Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dartmouth College

Physics 1 -- Spring 2006

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Contact Information
Teaching Assistants

Course Info/Documents
Assigned Reading
Lecture Notes
Term Essay Assignment
Lab Information
Section Assignments
Weekly Attendance Lists
Temporary Lab Change
Permanent Lab Change

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Instructor | Top

Marcelo Gleiser Send email to: Marcelo.Gleiser@Dartmouth.EDU
Office: 116 Wilder
Office phone: 6-1489
Office hours: Wednesday 1:45 - 3:00 pm

Richard Kremer Send email to: Richard.L.Kremer@Dartmouth.EDU
Office: 405 Carson
Office phone: 6-2228
Office hours: Wednesday 2:00 - 4:00 pm

Teaching Assistants | Top

Ryan Johnson Send email to:
Office: 302 Wilder
Office phone: 6-3535
Office hours: Wed. 4:00-5:00 PM
Lab Sections: Tue. & Wed. 7:00-10:00 PM

David Sicilia Send email to:
Office: 302 Wilder
Office phone: 6-3535
Office hours: Wed. 4:00-5:00 PM
Lab Sections: Mon. 2:00-5:00 PM & 7:00-10:00 PM

Sara Walker Send email to:
Office: 302 Wilder
Office phone: 6-3535
Office hours: Thu. 4:00-5:00 PM
Lab Sections: Tues. 2:00-5:00 PM

Course Information | Top

Goals of Course:

An historical examination of the evolution of physical theories of natural phenomena, from Greek antiquity through the present. Designed especially for non-science majors, the course will also consider how the rules for doing physics have changed and thus should also interest science majors.


Cassidy, David, et al. Understanding Physics Springer, 2002.

Gleiser, Marcelo. The Dancing Universe Plume, 1998.

Stoppard, Tom. Arcadia Faber & Faber, 1994.

Class Periods:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:30 - 1:35 pm

Occasionally held on Tuesdays, 1:00 - 1:50 pm

Class Room:

104 Wilder


Five labs, conducted in sections meeting:

M 2-5, 7-10 p.m.
Tu 2-5, 7-10 p.m.
W 7-10 p.m.

In each laboratory you will attempt to reenact classic experiments from the history of physics. Each lab will require a 3 to 4-page write-up, due in the P1 mailbox two days after your lab meets, by 5 p.m. Labs will count for 30% of your term grade. Late lab write-ups will be penalized. Please attend the lab section for which you are scheduled. A lab fee of $25 (approximately) is required.


The midterm (65 minutes) counts for 20% of your grade. The final (150 minutes), covering the entire course with somewhat greater emphasis on the latter half, counts for 35%. Exams will cover all aspects of the course (lectures, readings, films, labs).

Term Essay:

You will write an essay of 5-6 pages in length (about 1500 words), worth 15% of your grade, on one of several topics we later shall propose. Due 19 May by 5 p.m. in the P1 mailbox.

Honor Principle:

Adherence to the Honor Principle means that you will write your own exams (closed book) without assistance and write the lab reports and term essay by yourself. The essay should be properly documented (see Sources: Their Use and Acknowledgment, 1998, Otherwise, we encourage you to work together in the labs and in studying for the exams.

Special Situations:

Students with learning, physical, or psychiatric disabilities enrolled in this course that may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an office appointment to see us before the end of the second week of the term. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Student Disability Services office may be consulted to discuss appropriate implementation of any accommodation requested.

Syllabus | Top



Lecture Notes

Mar 29/Wed


Mar 31/Fri

Removing the Gods? Pre-Socratics and the Invention of "Physics"


Apr 3/Mon

Plato versus Aristotle


Apr 5/Wed

Archimedes, Greek Engineering, and the Bathtub


Apr 7/Fri

Celestial Motions and Mathematics: Ptolemy to Kepler


Apr 10/Mon

"Physics 1" in 1300: Natural Philosophy and the Medieval University


Apr 11/Tue

Film: Newton's dark secrets," NOVA 2002, 56 mins

Apr 12/Wed

Physics at Court: Galileo's New Sciences


Apr 14/Fri

Newton, God and Motion


Apr 17/Mon

The Mechanical Universe from Descartes to Laplace


Apr 19/Wed

Steam Engines, Perpetual Motion and the Conservation of Energy


Apr 21/Fri

No class meeting: J.Robert Oppenheimer's birthday (22 April 1904)

Apr 24/Mon

Electricity and Magnetism: From Parlor Games to Maxwell's Equations


Apr 25/Tue

The Statistical World in the Nineteenth Century


Apr 26/Wed

Light, the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and the Aether


Apr 28/Fri

Applied Physics, from Newton to World War I


May 1/Mon

Midterm Examination

May 3/Wed

X-Rays, Dartmouth and the Growth of American Physics


May 5/Fri

The Emergence of the Quantum World


May 8/Mon

Einstein, the Aether and Special Relativity


May 9/Tue

Film: "Einstein Revealed, Part I," NOVA 1996, 58 mins

May 10/Wed

General Relativity and the Discovery of an Expanding Universe


May 12/Fri

The Atom and Quantum Mechanics


May 15/Mon

Nuclear Physics and the Manhattan Project


May 16/Tue

Film: "The Day after Trinity," Pyramid Films, 1974, 88'

May 17/Wed

What Are We Made Of? Quarks, Leptons and Particle Physics


May 19/Fri

Applied Physics after 1945: Transistors and Lasers


May 22/Mon

Complexity, Chaos and Nonlinearity: A New Physics?


May 23/Tue

Film: "The Ghost Particle," NOVA, 2006, 56 mins

May 24/Wed

Physics and Twentieth-Century Culture


May 26/Fri

Modeling Universes


May 29/Mon

No class: Memorial Day

May 30/Tue

Film: "Testing Einstein's Universe," Norbert Bartel, 2004, 40 mins

May 31/Wed

The Physics/Cosmology Connection: Theories of Everything


Assigned Readings | Top

A note on reading Understanding Physics:

As stated in its preface, Cassidy's textbook seeks to place "the fundamental concepts of physics with the broader humanistic and historical contexts in which they arose" (x). At times, the text offers slightly more mathematical detail than will be provided in our lectures. And for some weeks, the topics covered in Cassidy's chapters that we have assigned will be more comprehensive than the material in our lectures. Nonetheless, we expect you to read Cassidy carefully. For example, you should be able to understand the terms listed at the end of each chapter under "Some New Ideas and Concepts." The "Study Guide Questions" can also help you gauge your understanding of the material.



Mar 29 - 31

Cassidy, Prologue to Part 1
Gleiser, Chapter 1

Apr 3 - 7

Cassidy, Chapter 2
Gleiser, Chapter 2-3

Apr 10 - 14

Cassidy, Chapters 1, 3
Gleiser, Chapters 4 & 5

Apr 17 - 21

Cassidy, Chapters 4-6

Apr 24 - 28

Cassidy, Chapters 7-8, 10-12
Gleiser, Chapter 6

May 1 - 5

Cassidy, Chapters 9, 13-14
Gleiser, Chapter 8 (pp. 220-28); Chapter 7

May 8 - 12

Cassidy, Chapters 9, 15
Gleiser, Chapter 7 & 9

May 15-19

Cassidy, Chapter 17-18
Gleiser, Chapter 9

May 22-26

Gleiser, Chapter 10

General Laboratory Information | Top

Lab Sections Times:

Mon. - Tue. 2:00-5:00 pm; Mon. - Wed. 7:00-10:00 pm

Lab Location:

219 Wilder (Map)

Lab homework due date:

the Monday after the lab session at 5:00 pm

Lab report turn in location:

In marked slots under mailboxes by the front door to Wilder

Lab report return location:

In student mailboxes

Student mailbox location:

By the front door to Wilder on the right at you look out

Number of lab books needed:


Max. temporary lab changes:


Lab Schedule | Top

Week of:



April 10

Galileo's Measurement of g Download

April 24

Interference & Diffraction of Light Download

May 8

Thomson e/m Download

May 22

Neutron Activation of Ag Download

Temporary Lab Section Change | Top

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Pemanent Lab Section Change | Top

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Weekly Class Lists | Top

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Exams | Top

Exams Solutions
pdf icon Sample Exam 1