Symmetries and Idealizations

Course Credits

PH 320: Paradigms in Physics: Symmetries and Idealizations meets 7 hours per week (MWF for 1 hour, TR for 2 hours) for three weeks for a total of 2 credits.

Prerequisites, Co-requisites and Enforced Prerequisites

Prereq: PH 213, MTH 254 (unofficial)
Coreq: MTH 255, PH 314 (unofficial)

Office Hours

Elizabeth Gire Wed, Fri 2-3pm
Wngr 367

(541) 737-1692

(I strongly prefer e-mail)
Corinne Manogue TBD 
Wngr 493
(541) 737-1695
Paul Emigh Tues, Thurs 2-3pm
Wngr 491
(541) 737-1880
Michael Forkner Wed, Fri 3-4pm
Wngr 304F

Learning Resources

A complete list of required texts and other resources for the the entire year of Paradigms courses can be found on the Paradigms website. For this course, the required texts are Griffiths (GEM), Taylor (T), and Boas (B). We will also be using assigned readings from a (free) online textbook.

Course Content

This Paradigm, together with PH 422: Static Vector Fields, will cover the basics of the theory of electrostatics and magnetostatics: electric and magnetic fields, discrete and continuous sources and the superposition principle, work and energy. At the same time it will review the techniques of vector calculus such as Stokes' and the divergence theorems which are critical to the study of any static vector field.
The emphasis will be on:

  • extending the integral versions of Maxwell's equations (learned in introductory physics) to the local, differential versions.
  • learning to visualize vector-valued functions in three dimensions using the computer algebra software.
  • extending the techniques of vector calculus from rectangular to cylindrical and spherical coordinates.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Coordinate verbal, graphical, geometric/diagrammatic, and algebraic representations of sources and fields
  • Identify and use |r-r'| in verbal, graphical, and algebraic representations
  • Describe charge and current densities with linear, surface, and volume geometries in verbal, graphical, and algebraic representations
  • Use superposition to determine fields from discrete and continuous sources
  • Use multi-variable derivatives (gradient, divergence, curl) to determine: (1) fields from potentials and (2) sources from fields
  • Use power series to approximate fields close to and far from sources
  • Use Gauss' Law and Ampere's Law in cases of high symmetry to find electrostatic and magnetostatic fields

Evaluation of Student Performance

  • 40% required homework, quizzes, and other assignments.
  • 30% Exam 1 (Monday, October 17, 7-9pm, Wngr 212).
  • 30% Exam 2 (Monday, November 7, 7-9pm, Wngr 212).
  • Practice problems provide simple examples for you to check whether or not you understand the material as you go along.  They will not be graded.  Sometimes solutions will be posted.  At a minimum, you should read each practice problem and make sure that you know how to do it. If you can't, ask for help!
  • Required problems will be graded.  Solutions will be posted online.  Assignments turned in after solutions are posted can earn at most 50% of the total points.  Very late assignments will earn less.  It is a good idea to turn in what you have done by the due date, and, if necessary, the rest later. Please consult the instructor for special circumstances.
  • In 400/500 level classes, some of the required problems and probably one problem on the final exam will be marked as "Challenge" problems.   500-level students are required to do these Challenge problems.  400-level students are not necessarily expected to do them.  However, those students who hope to get an A are encouraged to do so.  While it may be possible for a 400-level student to get an A without doing any Challenge problems, it may be difficult.  (In PH 320, they are optional and don't count for anything--just fun.) Grading of the Challenge problems will be quite strict; we won't even look at them unless they seem to be clearly written, coherent, complete, and essentially correct.

Statement of Expectations for Student Conduct

Students will be expected to abide by all university rules regarding student conduct and academic honesty, in particular, see: link to University Rules.

Additional Ground Rules

Science is inherently a social and collaborative effort, each scientist building on the work of others. Nevertheless, each student must ultimately be responsible for his or her own education. Therefore, you will be expected to abide by a number of Ground Rules:

    1. We strongly encourage students to work with each other, more advanced students, the TA, and the professor, on assignments. However, each student is expected to turn in assignments that have been independently written up. In other words, the final synthesis must be entirely your own. This applies also to, and especially to, computer generated worksheets. If you work with someone on a computer project, do not get locked into writing the solution together. You will end up turning in the sameassignment.
    2. Homework solutions from previous years are very strictly off limits. You are on your honor not to use them, and not to share your homework solutions with other students. Allow faculty to use their time interacting with you, rather than continually thinking up new assignments. Besides, if you don't do the work yourself, it will show up very clearly on exams later. Likewise, the solutions are for your use only. You may make one copy and keep it in your personal files.
    3. Sources must be appropriately documented. If you find a homework problem worked out somewhere (other than homework solutions from previous years), you may certainly use that resource, just make sure you reference it properly. If someone else helps you solve a problem, reference that too. In a research paper, the appropriate reference would be:    Jane Doe, (private communication).
    4. Plagiarism – representing someone else’s work as your own – is unethical, but collaboration and exchange of ideas is healthy. You can avoid having collaborative efforts take on the look of plagiarism by acknowledging sources and by writing up your work independently.
    5. If you find that you have worked on a problem for 1/2 hour without making any forward progress, it would be a good idea to stop and seek help.
    6. As part of Homework 1, send Liz an e-mail with one or two things you'd like for her to know about you, for example: hobbies, phonetic spelling of your name, preferred pronouns, how you got interested in physics, concerns you have about the course or the major, etc.

Statement Regarding Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.