1. What is this course all about?

Brock calendar entry: Charges and fields, electric currents and circuits, electromagnetic waves and wave nature of light, elements of modern physics.


One of the fundamental themes of physics is that of unification of basic theories. In the context of this course, it is interesting to review some of the highlights in the history of the unification of various perspectives on electric, magnetic, and optical phenomena.

The 19th century saw an explosion in understanding of electric and magnetic phenomena, culminating in the inventions of electric motors and generators, and an enormous amount of consequent and related technology. Large-scale "electrification" of urban areas began in the late 1800s, and continued throughout the 1900s, so that by the late 1900s virtually all developed countries had electricity on demand in virtually all homes.

The mid-to-late 1900s saw the flowering of electronics, together with the continual miniaturization of electronic devices. These developments were possible thanks to developments in the early 1900s in the fields of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.

Understanding the inner workings of electronic devices (such as computers, smart phones, etc.), lasers, solar cells, the interiors of molecules, atoms, and atomic nuclei, energy production in the sun and stars, and all manner of other exotic phenomena, requires a deeper understanding of physics that only became known in the 20th century: quantum mechanics. Broadly speaking, Newtonian mechanics is an excellent theory for the macroscopic world, and quantum mechanics is essential for understanding the microscopic world. (However, this is an oversimplification, because lasers and smart phones are macroscopic, but I hope you get the idea.)

We'll provide a very brief introduction to quantum mechanics in this course, but for a proper introduction to quantum mechanics and its applications, you'll have to stick around for second-year physics and beyond (PHYS 2P50 is an excellent start). If you wish to go further in physics, or in any of the sciences that depend on physics (and which don't?), work hard now to provide yourself with a solid foundation, and you'll be able to take your studies as far as you wish.

This course provides an introduction to the essential ideas of electricity, magnetism, and quantum theory that will provide a foundation for your future studies in these fields. Numerous applications to daily life and technology will be discussed. The last part of the course is a survey of some aspects of modern physics, such as nuclear physics, particle physics, and cosmology.

What do I need to bring into the course?

This course is suitable for students with a high school science background. High school calculus or physics are not required, but good skills in elementary algebra, geometry, and trigonometry at the high-school level are necessary; this course is quantitative in nature. A previous study of mechanics (in PHYS 1P21 or PHYS 1P91, for example) is essential. A good scientific calculator is required.


The textbook is College Physics, second edition, by Urone, Hinrichs, Dirks, and Sharma, published by OpenStax (Rice University), and available to download for free at http://cnx.org. A solution manual and other student resources are available at https://openstax.org/details/college-physics.

Some people like to have secondary sources to read in case they have difficulty understanding the primary textbook in some places. This is NOT required, but if you would like a secondary source, you can also consult the more advanced Openstax University Physics, which is also available for free.

You can also borrow other textbooks from a library, or buy an inexpensive used algebra-based textbook from your favourite used bookstore or internet source. Look for titles such as Physics or College Physics. If your major subject is Physics or a related field, and you would like a more advanced (say, calculus-based) textbook for reference, look for titles that include "for Scientists and Engineers." If you are considering buying a secondary textbook, and are not sure if it will be appropriate for you, send me an email message and I'll advise.


PPLATO is a set of online resources organized as a full-scale physics and mathematics textbook. There are two types of resources: in the left column there are FLAP (Flexible Learning Approach to Physics), while on the right are supplementary self-assessment modules. Think of the left-hand column as of the chapters of a complete textbook, and of the right-hand column as of tutorials on a selection of topics. I'll refer to PPLATO during the course, but if you need a reminder of some basic mathematics or a refresher on mechanics, this is a good place to go first.


Homework is done using Brock's WeBWorK system, which can be accessed at WeBWorK. Scroll down the displayed list of courses, click on the course that you are enrolled in (either PHYS1P22D03FW2017 or PHYS1P92D03FW2017) and log in using your Brock username and password. There are also links to WeBWorK from each course's Sakai page.

Experience shows that coming to each lecture well-prepared accelerates your learning tremendously. Coming to class well-prepared allows us to make lectures much more interactive, which will also accelerate your learning.

Doing homework regularly, and in the right way, is essential for understanding physics. Daily work is our mantra. For more information on how to do homework effectively, and why it's important, see ***.

Some students do their homework dishonestly, by simply "googling" the answers. Typically they end up with very high homework scores, but end up failing the final exam, and therefore they fail the course. There are no shortcuts, and no magic formulas for success. It's very simple: Daily, consistent, honest work leads you to success.

Academic Integrity

Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly (including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding misrepresentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should consult Section VII, “Academic Misconduct”, in the “Academic Regulations and University Policies” entry in the Undergraduate Calendar, available here, to view a fuller description of prohibited actions, and the procedures and penalties.

A helpful web site describes Brock's academic integrity policy. Please read it carefully, as all students are expected to understand it and abide by its provisions.

2. Lectures, Labs, and Tests

Instructor: S. D'Agostino

Lectures: Mondays 12–12:50 pm, Tuesdays 8–8:50 am, and Wednesdays 12–12:50 pm, all in Room TH 245.


Tests are written every Friday (except for the first Friday, where we all meet in TH 245 for a lecture) from 12–12:50 pm. If you are in PHYS 1P22 you write your tests in Room TH 245, and if you are in PHYS 1P92 you write your tests in Room WH 324. Check the schedule further down this page for more details.

It's a good idea to pick up tests as soon as they are graded so that you can review them and correct your errors. Graded tests can be picked up in Room MC B230 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 pm to 5 pm, and Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 12 noon. Bring identification!

PHYS 1P92 Laboratories

Labs take place in MC H200, during alternate weeks, starting the week of 15 January 2018. Specifically, labs take place during the weeks of 15 January, 29 January, 12 February, 5 March, and 19 March.

Everyone performs the same experiment during the first week. However, in subsequent weeks, there will be four different experiments set up each day in the lab. To know which experiment you are doing each week, check Sakai to find out which lab rotation group you are in (A, B, C, or D), and determine which experiment you are doing.

The Lab Manual is available for printing from the course homepage. Be sure to read the Lab Outline before attending your first lab. Mr. F. Boseglav (MC B211, fbosegla@brocku.ca) is your lab demonstrator, and should be contacted for all details. Contact Mr. F. Benko, senior lab demonstrator (MC B210A, fbenko@brocku.ca), if Mr. Boseglav is not available.

You submit your written lab reports at the course's Sakai page. As part of the submission process, your report will be sent to Turnitin for comparison against the submissions of other students in your course. The due date is late in the day 6 days after you attend lab, and deadlines are strictly enforced. Late submissions automatically generate a zero grade for the experiment; i.e. a 100% penalty. If you have a valid medical or compassionate excuse, contact the lab instructor as soon as possible.

An integral part of the labs is the use of computer-based data acquisition; you may wish to consult http://www.physics.brocku.ca/physica/ in advance. Under the "Get data" menu selection, select "demo" and click "go"; the demo mode allows you to try the tools without being in the lab.

Make-up labs

For those who have missed a lab, make-up labs must be performed during 2–6 April, from 2–4:45 pm. There are no 5–8 pm make-up lab sessions.

To perform the one allowed make-up lab for this term, go to your lab room (MC H200), and find a timetable with the roster of students registered for one of the five make-up sessions. Check that there are no more than three students doing the experiment that you need to do, then enter your name and lab number in the schedule. If your chosen session is full, you will have to register into another session so that there will be a workstation available for you to use.

Be sure to have the TA initial and date your paper lab worksheet at the end of the lab session. You have six days, as usual, to submit your completed lab report. Bring the dated paper copy and the electronic copy with your laptop to Mr. Boseglav in Room MC B211 who will open a spot on Turnitin and enable you to upload the document.

3. Sources of help

Office hours: S. D'Agostino MC E219, Mondays and Wednesdays 1 – 2 pm, Tuesdays 10 – 11 am, or by appointment.

Help Desks:

Daily Help Desk: 11:00 am – 1:45 pm in Room MC H200 (1P92 lab room) every day. You can also pick up your graded weekly tests here for review.

Main Library Drop-in Science Centre Schedule; Thursdays, 9 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 7 pm.

Other sources of help

Falling behind in a mathematics or science course leads to extreme difficulties, particularly in a compressed course such as this one. Don't allow yourself to fall behind. Consistent, daily work will help you to succeed in the course.

I encourage you to visit my office whenever you would like to discuss physics. Don't wait until the last moment; make sure you clear up anything that is unclear as soon as possible, as this will make your studies more effective and you will go further in less time.

If you can't come by during my office hours, send me an email message at sdagostino@brocku.ca and we shall set up a suitable time to meet. My telephone number, for emergencies only, is 905-688-5550 extension 5785. The best way to reach me is either in person or by email.

Online electronic documentation

This course description, some lecture notes, and some study aids are available online via the Web server of the Physics Department, http://www.physics.brocku.ca/ (follow the links to Courses ---> 1P22/1P92).

4. Topics to be studied

As time permits, some topics not listed below may be added, while some other topics may not be discussed during lectures and tutorial sessions. The outline below is only an approximation.

  • Chapter 16: Oscillatory Motion and Waves

    • 16.1 Hooke's Law
    • 16.2 Period and Frequency in Oscillations
    • 16.3 Simple Harmonic Motion
    • 16.4 The Simple PendulumOMIT
    • 16.5 Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
    • 16.6 Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
    • 16.7 Damped Harmonic Motion
    • 16.8 Forced Oscillations and Resonance
    • 16.9 Waves
    • 16.10 Superposition and Interference
    • 16.11 Energy in Waves

  • Chapter 18: Electric Charge and Electric Field

    • 18.1 Static Electricity and Charge
    • 18.2 Conductors and Insulators
    • 18.3 Coulomb's Law
    • 18.4 Electric Field
    • 18.5 Electric Field Lines
    • 18.6 Electric Forces in Biology
    • 18.7 Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
    • 18.8 Applications of Electrostatics

  • Chapter 19: Electric Potential Energy and Electric Potential

    • 19.1 Electric Potential Energy
    • 19.2 Electric Potential in a Uniform Electric Field
    • 19.3 Electric Potential Due to a Point Charge
    • 19.4 Equipotential Surfaces
    • 19.5 Capacitors and Dielectrics
    • 19.6 Capacitors in Series and Parallel
    • 19.7 Energy Stored in Capacitors

  • Chapter 20: Electric Current, Reistance, and Ohm's Law

    • 20.1 Electric Current
    • 20.2 Ohm's Law
    • 20.3 Resistance and Resistivity
    • 20.4 Electric Power and Energy
    • 20.5 Alternating CurrentOMIT
    • 20.6 Electric Hazards and the Human Body
    • 20.7 Nerve ConductionOMIT

  • Chapter 21: Electric Circuits

    • 21.1 Resistors in Series and Parallel
    • 21.2 Electromotive Force
    • 21.3 Kirchhoff's Rules
    • 21.4 DC Voltmeters and AmmetersOMIT
    • 21.5 Null MeasurementsOMIT
    • 21.6 DC Circuits Containing Resistors and CapacitorsOMIT

  • Chapter 22: Magnetism

    • 22.1 Magnets
    • 22.2 Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
    • 22.3 Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
    • 22.4 Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
    • 22.5 Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
    • 22.6 The Hall EffectOMIT
    • 22.7 Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
    • 22.8 Torque on a Current Loop
    • 22.9 Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere's Law
    • 22.10 Magnetic Force Between Two Parallel Conductors
    • 22.11 More Applications of Magnetism

  • Chapter 23: Electromagnetic Induction

    • 23.1 Induced emf and Magnetic Flux
    • 23.2 Faraday's law of Induction and Lenz's law
    • 23.3 Motional emf
    • 23.4 Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
    • 23.5 Electric Generators
    • 23.6 Back emf
    • 23.7 Transformers
    • 23.8 Electrical Safety
    • 23.9 InductanceOMIT
    • 23.10 RL CircuitsOMIT
    • 23.11 Reactance, Inductive and CapacitiveOMIT
    • 23.12 RLC Series AC CircuitsOMIT

  • Chapter 24: Electromagnetic Waves

    • 24.1 Maxwell's Equations: Electromagnetic Waves Predicted and Observed
    • 24.2 Production of Electromagnetic Waves
    • 24.3 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • 24.4 Energy in Electromagnetic Waves

  • Chapter 27: Wave Optics

    • 27.1 The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
    • 27.2 Huyghens's Principle: Diffraction
    • 27.3 Young's Double-Slit Experiment
    • 27.4 Multiple-Slit Diffraction
    • 27.5 Single-Slit Diffraction
    • 27.6 Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
    • 27.7 Thin-Film Interference
    • 27.8 Polarization
    • 27.9 Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characterstics of LightOMIT

  • Chapter 29: Introduction to Quantum Physics

    • 29.1 Quantization of Energy
    • 29.2 The Photoelectric Effect
    • 29.3 Photon Energies and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • 29.4 Photon Momentum
    • 29.5 Particle-Wave Duality
    • 29.6 The Wave Nature of Matter
    • 29.7 Probability: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    • 29.8 The Particle-Wave Duality Reviewed

  • Chapter 30: Atomic Physics

    • 30.1 Discovery of the Atom
    • 30.2 Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
    • 30.3 Bohr's Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
    • 30.4 X-Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
    • 30.5 Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
    • 30.6 The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
    • 30.7 Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
    • 30.8 Quantum Numbers and Rules
    • 30.9 The Pauli Exclusion Principle

5. Course Schedule

Week Dates Topics Tests
1 8 Jan.–12 Jan. Ch 16 No test (lecture instead)
2 15 Jan.–19 Jan. Ch 18 Test 16
3 22 Jan.–26 Jan. Ch 19 Test 18
4 29 Jan.–2 Feb. Ch 20 Test 19
5 5 Feb.–9 Feb. Ch 21 Test 20
6 12 Feb.–16 Feb. Ch 22 Test 21
19 Feb.–23 Feb. Reading Week (No classes)
7 26 Feb.–2 Mar. Ch 23 Test 22
8 5 March–9 March Ch 24 Test 23
9 12 March–16 March Ch 27 Test 24
10 19 March–23 March Ch 29 Test 27
11 26 March–29 March Ch 30 NO TEST
12 2 April–9 April Review Test 29/30

Tests are written on Fridays in the regular lecture hour. On the first Friday of classes (12 January 2018), everyone meets in TH 245 for a lecture instead of a test. On 30 March the university is closed, and there will be no test and no lecture.

Students in PHYS 1P22 write their tests in Room TH 245 and students in PHYS 1P92 write their tests in Room WH 324.

Each test is cumulative, in the sense that each test may include material that was studied in an earlier week of the course. The purpose of this is to encourage you to review continually so that you place your learning in long-term memory, where you'll have it available to you for a lifetime.

It's a good idea to pick up tests as soon as they are graded so that you can review them and correct your errors. Graded tests can be picked up in Room MC E203 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 pm to 5 pm, and Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 12 noon. Bring identification!

6. Grading Scheme

Component PHYS 1P22 PHYS 1P92 Comments
Homework 10% 10% Weekly homework is completed and graded using the WeBWorK online system. Repeated attempts are allowed for each question. Late homework is not counted for credit.
Tests 50% 40% There are 10 tests, written on Fridays. Each test may contain material discussed in earlier weeks. Test questions are similar in difficulty level to those found in the homework assignments.
Final Exam 40% 30% You must pass the final exam (50% or more) to obtain a credit in the course.
Laboratory Work 20% Both attending the lab and submitting a written report is required to complete a lab; completing all labs is required to obtain a credit in the course.

In calculating your overall test score, each test carries equal weight. If you miss a test, and you have a very good reason (documentation is required and must be presented in person), you will be excused from the missed tests with no academic penalty (i.e., you'll get a "no mark"). The weight of excused tests will be distributed proportionally to the other tests.

For your homework (done using WeBWorK), your final score will be increased by a factor of 1.1 if it is less than or equal to 83.33%, and your final score will be increased by "half the distance to the goal line" if it is greater than 83.33%. In this way, if you miss the occasional homework deadline your grade will not be penalized, and there will be no need to obtain and submit medical documentation for each such unfortunate event. On the other hand, if you are sufficiently ill that you miss a significant portion of the course, then you should certainly contact me to discuss how to proceed.

If you miss the final exam for a very good reason (documentation is required and must be presented in person), then you will need to write a make-up exam to get a credit in the course, unless your situation is truly extreme. Final exam periods tend to be extremely busy, so there is no guarantee that it will be possible to write a make-up exam soon after the scheduled final exam; therefore, do your very best to stay strong and healthy so that this will not be a concern for you.

If you fail to obtain at least 50% on the final exam, and therefore do not obtain a credit in the course (regardless of your calculated final grade), I am compelled to report a final grade for you that is no higher than 45, according to Registrar's Office policy. In this case, your reported final grade will be either your calculated final grade or 45, whichever is less. In this case, should you desire a credit in the course, you would have to repeat the course.

Medical documentation must be submitted in person at most 7 business days from the time of illness; submit an original version, not a photocopy. If you are too ill to present your medical documentation in person, send an original version (not a photocopy) to me at the Physics Department (you'll find the mailing address at the main Physics Department web page). Medical documentation sent electronically is not accepted. Don't send me medical documentation electronically.

Withdrawal Deadline

The last date for withdrawal from this course without academic penalty is 9 March 2018.

7. Expectations/Responsibilities

Here is a summary of our expectations of you, which are your responsibilities. You are expected to:

  • attend each scheduled lecture and laboratory session.
  • do your work honestly.
  • attend lectures having prepared in advance by reading relevant parts of the textbook, and completing the pre-lecture homework assignment. You are also expected to bring pencil and paper to lectures so that you are ready to work during the session.
  • attend labs having prepared in advance by reading relevant parts of the lab manual, and having completed the prelab problems.
  • attend each test, with only a non-graphics calculator and writing instruments. Don't bring your formula sheet, as we'll give you one.

To get the most out of the course, work on it a little bit every day. Daily work is key for placing your learning in long-term memory, where it will be readily available to help you to advance your knowledge in second year and beyond. (And, of course, having the course content in long-term memory will help you ace the final exam!)

Prepare for each lecture by reading the textbook, trying some homework problems, and writing down specific questions about points that you find difficult. If you do this, you will be very pleased with the results.

The same kind of advice applies to the laboratories as well. If you attend lab superbly well-prepared, then you will be extremely efficient, you will collect your data successfully, and you will even be able to complete some of your lab report in the lab. You will be especially efficient because you will be able to ask your lab demonstrators good questions while you are in the lab, and this will help you to complete your lab report efficiently.

Remember, it is impossible for your course instructor to effectively cover an entire chapter of the textbook in less than three hours of lectures per week. It is your responsibility to learn the course material. The lectures are there to guide you and assist you in learning the material, but remember whose responsibility it is to actually do the hard work of learning the course material. Showing up to lectures is important, but is not nearly enough to succeed in the course; you must do additional work on your own, and ideally also with your study partner or study group, to really learn the course material well.

8. Pay Attention to Your Life

There is a kind of art to living life, and if we thought of our lives as works of art, imagine how this would change the way we live. All of us are inundated with distractions every day, crafted by experts in addiction to steal the most valuable of our resources: Our time and attention. We all have to figure out how to cope with this insidious problem, but it's particularly dangerous for you young people, because you are in the primes of your lives, with the potential for rapid development. Your brains could indeed develop rapidly and beautifully if you stimulate them effectively, but this is difficult to do because of the intense pressure we all feel from addictive electronic gizmos.

I highly recommend that you put into place some system that helps you to avoid your addictive electronic devices for long periods of time during the day so that you can focus your attention on what truly matters, which is to develop yourself to the highest degree. To help you in this quest, laptops or portable alert devices like smartphones or smartwatches are not allowed during lectures. Turn them off, and put them well away from your consciousness. Research shows that even if your phone is turned off but it is within your view, it poses a significant distratction. Physics is hard enough to learn as it is; there is no reason to try to learn it while you are cognitively impaired.

This may be appear to be inconvenient, but there are important reasons for this. Multitasking is known to reduce the quality of performance in all tasks, and not just for you but also for people around you. Our lecture room is a cramped space, with students seated in close proximity, and even silent visual alerts on a screen affect others.

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Taking lecture notes longhand ensures that important cognitive encoding takes place. This is particularly important in a conceptual course such as physics. See here for more details; and a ScienceDirect link to the source of the [Canadian!] data.

The following are the only exceptions to the policy of no electronic devices:

  • a registered learning disability that requires the use of a laptop (requires a note from the Student Accessibility Services, delivered to the instructor in person);
  • an electronic paper device, laid flat on the desk and used to make hand-written notes electronically, must be in airplane mode;
  • volunteer firefighters or medical professionals on-call are allowed network-active devices on silent (requires a letter from the employer, delivered to the instructor in-person).