Static Fields

Link to Course Website

Course Credits

PH 422: Paradigms in Physics: Static Vector Fields meets 7 hours per week (MWF for 1 hour, TR for 2 hours) for five weeks for a total of 3 credits.

Prerequisites, Co-requisites and Enforced Prerequisites

Prereq: PH 213, MTH 255


Office Hours

Corinne Manogue M 7-8 pm in Wngr 212
Th 10-11 am in Wng 304F or Wngr 493
+ open door + by appt.

(541) 737-1695
Sean Gilligan (TA) 2-3 WF
Wngr 304F
Acacia Patterson (LA) 3-4 WF
Wngr 304F
Dustin Treece (LA) 4-6 T
Wngr 383 (Event Horizon)

Learning Resources

Junior and Senior level courses for majors share textbooks.  Copies are freely available in the SPS room and Weniger 304F.  The recommended texts for this particular course are:

  • Griffiths (GEM), Introduction to Electrodynamics, 4th ed. Pearson, 2013, ISBN 13:978-0-321-85656-2
  • Taylor (T), Classical Mechanics, University Science Books , 2005. ISBN 978-1891389221
  • Boas (Boas), Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd ed., Wiley, 2005. ISBN 978-0-471-19826-0

We will also be using assigned readings from two (free) online textbooks:  

We will be using the computer algebra system Mathematica in many of the upper-division physics courses meeting in Weniger 304 or 212. The physics majors' study room (Weniger 304F), with many machines running this software, are open at all times to enrolled students.  See the physics department office for information about keys to Weniger 304F.  Students who wish to put a copy of Mathematica on their privately owned computer should contact COSINe for current academic licensing information.

Course Content

This Paradigm 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' Theorem and the Divergence Theorem that are critical to the study of any static vector field.
The mathematical 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 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's Law and Ampere's Law in cases of high symmetry to find electrostatic and magnetostatic fields.

Evaluation of Student Performance

  • 40% required homework and other assignments. HW 0:  2 points for sending Corinne a short email telling her something interesting about yourself (and to prove that you have read the website!)
  • 5% quizzes.  A short quiz will be given in class every Monday on straightforward, essential content.  A goal of Corinne's is that EVERYONE gets 100% on these quizzes.  The content will be announced ahead of time (on the homework assignment) so that you have time to review and practice.  If you have trouble, ask any member of the instructional team for help!  If you nevertheless have trouble on the quiz, there will be an OPTIONAL office hour that same evening, 7-8 pm, in Weniger 212 when you will have the opportunity to hear mini-lectures, ask questions, practice, practice, practice, and retake the quiz for (hopefully) full credit.
  • 5% classroom participation.  Note: classroom participation includes not only asking and answering physics questions and making other content-based contributions to the class, but also using professional behavior to ensure that the classroom environment is a safe, collaborative learning space for everyone.  Please see the department guidelines
  • 50% Exam (Monday, February 10, 7-9pm, Wngr 212).
  • A selection of the 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 vital 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.  Grading of the Challenge problems will be quite strict; we won't even look at them in detail unless they seem to be clearly written, coherent, complete, and essentially correct.

How to submit homework--Gradescope

Instructions are coming!!!  They will be posted here when available.

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.

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.