PH315: The Physics of Contemporary Challenges

  • Instructor: (Winter 2017) Prof. Ethan Minot, Office: Weniger 417
  • TA: (Winter 2017) Dr. Paul Emigh, Office: Weniger 491
  • Textbook: See course information
  • Class Meetings: MWF 12.00 - 12.50pm, Weniger 212
  • Homework help session: Thursday 10.00 - 12.00noon in Weniger 334 “the wormhole”

Week 1

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 1/9SNOW DAY
Wed 1/11Physical ReasoningIntro to class. Order of magnitude estimates: Example, hydroelectric capacity of Columbia River. In-class exercise: Roof-top hydro. Day 1 screen/audio capture. day1_2017.pdf hw1
Fri 1/13Physical ReasoningDavid MacKay's free book has many more order of magnitude estimates related to renewable energy. Simplified models: Example, the energy consumed when driving a car. Interpreting graphs: Example, solar intensity at Humboldt State University. Day 2 screen/audio capture, day_2_2017.pdf hw1 due

Week 2

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 1/16MLK HOLIDAY hw2
Wed 1/18Physical reasoningDefinition of power. Numerical integration: Example, solar intensity at Humboldt State University. Numerical differentiation: Example, energy stored in the battery of an electric car. Day 3 screen/audio capture, day_3_2017.pdf -
Fri 1/20Thermal PhysicsTemperature is a way of quantifying a material's internal energy per atom (or molecule). The relationship is different for different materials. Practice problem: Internal energy of a cup of water. The equipartition theorem. How many degrees of freedom? Day 4 screen/audio capture, day_4_2017corrected.pdf HW2 solutions

Week 3

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 1/23Thermal PhysicsDefine specific heat capacity. Count degrees of freedom for 2 point-like particle connected by a spring. Apply equipartition theorem to some different gases, solids and liquids. The role of quantum mechanics in reducing the number of degrees of freedom that store thermal energy. Intro to heat transport. Day 5 screen/audio capture day_5_2017.pdf hw3
Wed 1/25Thermal PhysicsDefine heat and heat flux. Fourier's law of heat transport. Second order partial differential equation to describe Monday's kinesthetic activity. Heat flux through the wall of a building. Intro to PV diagrams using a ballon, liquid nitrogen and a piston. Day 6 screen/audio capture, day_6_2017.pdfReading Assignment: Gas Processes
Fri 1/27Thermal PhysicsCalculating the efficiency of an engine that uses expansion/contraction of a working gas to push a piston. Day 7 screen/audio capture day_7_2017.pdf HW3 solutions

Week 4

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 1/30Thermal PhysicsExamples of heat engines in technology. Introduction to heat pumps. Isothermal expansion versus adiabatic expansion. PhET simulation. Performance of an ideal heat pump. day_8_2017.pdf, Day 8 screen/audio capture hw4
Wed 2/1Light-Matter InteractionsLight is an electromagnetic wave. Relationship between wavelength, frequency and speed of light. Some variables are easier to measure than others. Interference patterns as a technique to measure wavelength. Example, wavelengths in from hydrogen gas lamp. day_9.pdf, Day 9 screen/audio capture -
Fri 2/3LabFrom 2-slit interference to 10-slit interference day_10_2017.pdf. Measuring the Planck constant Part 1 HW4 Solutions

Week 5

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 2/6LabMeasuring the Planck constant Part 2 hw5
Wed 2/8Light-Matter Interactions Day 12 screen/audio capture, day_12_2017v2.pdf, practice_midterm_2017.pdf -
Fri 2/10ReviewLED intensity (exercise from last class). Review of what the midterm covers. Day 13 screen/audio capture -

Week 6

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 2/13Mid-term exam
Wed 2/15Light-matter Interactions Reflections on midterm, hw4, and hw5. Preview of rest of course. The Correspondence Principle for quantum mechanics. Charged ball and spring model for CO2. Day 14 screen/audio capture, graphs_handout.pdf, day_14_2017.pdf Reading assignment: Greenhouse gases
Fri 2/17 Day 15 screen/audio capture, day_15_2017.pdf, stretching_molecules.pdf -

Week 7

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 2/20Thermal RadiationDay 16 screen/audio capture, day_16_2017.pdf hw6
Wed 2/22Blackbody Spectrumblackbody_spectrum_worksheet.pdf -
Fri 2/24Blackbody Spectrum Day 18 screen/audio capture, hw6_q6_hint.pdf, day_18_2017.pdf, -

Week 8

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 2/27
Wed 3/1 -
Fri 3/3 -

Week 9

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 3/6
Wed 3/8 -
Fri 3/10 -

Week 10

DateTopicWhat was coveredAssignments
Mon 3/13 Term-paper due
Wed 3/15 -
Fri 3/17 -

Finals week

Thur 3/23 6pm - 8pmFinal exam