Physics 131, Spring 2006  Classical Physics I
Physics 131 is semester I of a fast paced, two semester long, calculus-based survey of classical physics. Topics for the first semester (Physics 131) include: classical mechanics, oscillations, waves, fluid and themodynamics. The second semester (Physics 132) includes electricity, DC and AC currents, magnetism & electromagnetic waves, light, optics and a few topics in modern physics. The course has three lectures per week, accompanied by a weekly mandatory recitation with quizzes and assigned homework. Home work is partially ONLINE and the online grades will be counted towards the final grade.  Lectures will have occasional unannounced quizzes as a teaching tool and as a method of taking attendance.

There is a mandatory laboratory component to this course (Physics 133) which consists of 2 hour laboratory sessions per week. There are 10  in all this semester. They require performing experiments, doing the analysis of the data & writing laboratory reports. Submission of ALL laboratory reports is REQUIRED for passing the course.

There are two midterms and one final examinations.  The final grade will be based on all three of the exams, the laboratory grade, and the quiz & home work grade, and the lecture grade, by a weighting explained below.

Since all aspects of classical physics are covered in only two semesters, students should expect a very heavy work load. Students should be willing to devote 8-12 hrs/week to do the homework and laboratory reports every week. Students are strongly urged to opt for the fully equivalent but slower paced three semester course sequence Physics 125-126-127.  This course is offered at the same hour as Physics 131.  Note: Physics 126 and 127 will each be offered in one of the two summer sessions, 2006 and subsequent years.  If you are confident that your background in mathematics and high school science is sufficiently strong and that you are able to devote the necessary time, then good luck and welcome!  There is a self-administered diagnostic test which you should take, to help you figure out whether your preparation is sufficient to succeed in Phy 131.  There is also an honors version of this course, Physics 141-142, but it is only available once per year, 141 in the fall and 142 in the spring.

1. Required material:

2. Lecture:

MWF, 8:30-9:25am, Harriman 137
Instructor: Philip B. Allen, Office B-146, phone 632-8179
Course Web page:; personal web page:
Office Hours: TBA

You are responsible for all announcements made in lecture, plus unannounced quizzes given in lecture.  Please read the assigned text material before it is discussed in lecture.  Please feel free to ask questions in lecture!

Teaching Assistant: tba
Office: Physics C-xxx
Phone: (631)632-xxxx
Office Hours: tba

3. Homework:

Every Monday in the lecture a set of homework problems will be assigned. There are two kinds of homework: Web HW which you do using "Mastering Physics" and End of Chapter (EoC) HW which you will hand in the following week in the recitation. One of the homework problems may form the basis of a quiz during recitation; the lab TA may also give occasional quizzes on lab-related material.

4. Recitation:

The recitation provides an opportunity for informal discussion of the course material as well as the homework problems. Attendance in recitation is mandatory.

5. Laboratory:

Starting the week of January 31, you will perform a set of experiments illustrating the material discussed in the lecture. After writing up the result of each experiment you will hand in your lab report to your instructor at a time to be determined. All lab data and your report must be in your lab notebook. Your report will be graded and returned to you at the next lab meeting. There will be point deductions for late hand in. You are expected to perform and write up all laboratories. Failure to do so will result in severe deductions from your course grade leading to certain failure of the course if there are multiple missed labs. Details regarding the handing in and grading of lab reports will be provided at the first lab meeting. A schedule of laboratory meetings is attached.

6. Exams:

There will be two midterm exams and a final exam on dates indicated on the attached lab and exam schedule. Midterm exams will be given during the regular lecture hour.  A primitive calculator (without memory, programming, or graphing) will be allowed during the exam.  Formula sheets will NOT be attached to the exam and are forbidden. A set of all necessary formulas will be posted on the web prior to any exam, and the important ones should be memorized.  Exams will include the need to extract information from a graph and/or present it on a graph.  Exams will also include questions related to experiments done in the lab.  Practice problems and their detailed solutions will also be posted.

7. Grade:

Your final grade will be determined by weighting the various portions of the course as follows:
Each Midterm --- 14%
Final exam --- 32%
Lecture ---  4%
Web-HW ---  6%
Recitation --- 10%
Laboratory --- 20%

8. Help:

The course instructors will be available during office hours and by appointment for help with questions related to your homework problems and and/or general understanding of the course material. For questions concerning the laboratory you should see your laboratory instructor. You are encouraged to come and ask questions; we are here to help you master the course material. ABOVE ALL - do not get behind; it is very difficult to catch up in a Physics course. We urge you to seek help at office hours as soon as you have any difficulty, not just before exams.

You can find the office hours of all recitation instructors and TAs at the following link
Office hours

9. Course schedule:

You can find the course schedule (including labs and exams) on the following link:
Schedule for Physics 131, Spring 2006

For your information.

If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services (631) 632-6748. They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential.

Students requiring emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information, go to the following web site

Last updated January 22, 2006