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College of Arts & Sciences
Advanced Solutions Group

Physics 201

*Documents at the bottom of the page*


Semester Fall 2011

Instructor: Joseph E. Johnson, PhD
Classroom location: Sumwalt 333
Office location: Room 405 Physical Science Center (PSC)
Office hours: Tu 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Email: jjohnson@sc.eduPhone: 803-777-6431

Limit of 40 students
REQURIED OF EACH STUDENT: iPod, or iPad, or iPhone or other wireless Internet device

Physics Department Web Site

I. Course Description

  • a. Bulletin description See Bulletin
  • b. Course credit 3 hours
  • c. Intended audience First year physics students
  • d. Prerequisite and/or co-requisite Algebra and Trig – Calculus is useful

These notes have been compiled in order to summarize the core concepts, definitions, terms, equations, and relationships for an introductory college level Physics course. My objective is to provide the student with the notes which serve as a guide to my lectures and an outline of the course. There are a large number of very well written texts that are available. But it is easy for a student to become overwhelmed in the more than one thousand page texts. Thus these notes are the skeletal framework upon which one can attach the rest of the material where a chapter is reduced to less than a single page.

I have separated each ‘chapter’ into a separate sections or modules that are small but cohesive concepts. I have posted these notes on the web thus allowing one to print these pages for personal use. Each of these sections or modules is designed to support a videotaped segment which are available by web. Each module or video segment can be followed by questions, or problems, to which the student is to respond in the QRECT learning assessment system. These questions are to be part of the student’s daily grade and to guide both the student and the instructor in the assessment process. This design insures a higher level of engagement by the student and is designed to simulate one-on-one instruction (tutoring) for any number of simultaneous students.

The lecture sections can be presented in a synchronous class interspersed with the student responses submitted simultaneously in real time by all students (using internet connected devices such as iPhones, iTouches, iPads, netbooks or any internet device) into the QRECT software server. The lectures can be augmented by instructor comments, partial lectures, class demonstrations, or problem solving explanations. The material can also be offered in a synchronous distance education environment or even in self-directed individual asynchronous environments. As a self-directed or ‘self-paced’ course, it is possible to reroute the student if performance is not adequate to proceed. It is also possible for students to achieve a very high performance rate for domains where they are more capable. The advantages of videotaped lectures are (a) the instructor can replicate themselves and achieve much higher lecturing efficiency. (b) The student can review material many times as may be useful. (c) There are less time restrictions on the student thus providing the material that was missed due to illness or other causes such as athletic events. It also allows course scheduling flexibility. (d) The instructor can augment the core lectures with additional lectures, demonstrations, problem solving sessions all of which can also be videotaped thus extensively enriching the information available to the student. (e) The system also provides the infrastructure for a fully self-paced course. I have used red fonts for equations and green fonts for numerical values and constants thus providing a rapid recognition. I have developed web based software for UNITS conversion that allows one to mix units in any valid way thus providing an environment for very rapid computation. The general Class Notes, Video Lectures, UNITS software, and the QRECT software all can be found at I welcome comments and suggestions (

Joseph E. Johnson, PhD        May 15, 2011

How to Best Process This Material as a Physics Course:

This course is not a ‘tech school’ course but a demanding and hopefully enriching major university course developing a broad base of technical knowledge and insights, coupled with new methods of thinking. Specifically we seek:

  • 1. To learn the foundational laws of nature and science that underlie, not just Physics, but by virtue of being foundational, underlie also Chemistry, Biology, Geology, Engineering, Biology, Medicine, Health Science, and other scientific fields.
  • 2. To learn specifically the fundamental concepts, their definitions, their experimental and theoretical relationships among one another (equations) and fundamental values and associated constants and units.
  • 3. To become experienced in estimation, numerical uncertainty, order of magnitude estimation, and problem solving.
  • 4. To learn how ‘science’ operates: the interplay of theory and experiment and the linking of a model, with confirmation of existing data and prediction of new data.
  • 5. To experience mathematics as a tool of theoretical modeling, prediction, measurement – ie with mathematics as a language.
  • 6. To learn how to think analytically and synthetically: what to question and how, and how to identify what should be generally accepted and thus questioned less often. To build ability and an associated confidence in reasoning in new domains.
  • 7. To learn a sense of history, and the role of science and technology in the historical evolution of man and civilization.
  • 8. To understand how the human view of nature comprises a limited domain: m, a, v, x, t, g, color/freq, sound etc. Especially how our senses translate stimulus and register its logarithm.
  • 9. Specifically we seek to understand this underlying theoretical structure along with its successes and current limitations in a holistic manner.


Recommendation of how to learn the most with the least effort:

  • 1. Preview material prior to each class: We will follow the text and the syllabus and specifically the typed lecture notes available on the Web – Print this and bring it to class each time. Prior to each class, preview the material for the next class even if just for 10 minutes. That way, you know what is in the book and my typed notes, and what things are important about those concepts. One will get an overview of the material to be covered and this makes it far easier to rapidly assimilate the lecture and to take notes that complement (and do not reproduce) the text.
  • 2. Attend all classes for the entire period: I am not impressed with the taking of voluminous notes, but rather the student who listens, absorbs, and assimilates the lecture. Your notes should indicate where the concentration areas, important concepts, things to be ignored, and what will be on the tests. Really listen with full attention.
  • 3. After class but that same day, create a nice set of notes: With your class notes in front of you, your text open to the class material, with your memory of your pre-class reading of the text, the class notes on the web site, and the knowledge learned in class, then make a set of clear neat notes that condenses the class lecture and the text. Use the class web site to keep up to date and print out older pertinent exams etc.
  • 4. Review these condensed notes prior to each exam: Use the condensed notes to review for the exam along with the text. Practice taking the older tests where pertinent. It is always best to study with other students and share information and to explain concepts to others. It is a fact that if you explain something and teach someone else, you will learn more in the process than they do, so never hesitate to help others. In the process of teaching, you will formulate the concepts and relationships more clearly.
  • 5. After each of the four tests, classify your errors into types such as (a) arithmetic or algebraic mistake in calculation, (b) forgot formula, (c) could not convert the word explanation or setting into a mathematical setting, (d) carelessness (eg marking the wrong question or alternative.
  • 6. Never miss class if possible – attendance is required. Never cut a test if possible all tests are required.

Fundamental Physics Table of Contents

Joseph E. Johnson, PhD © 2006-2012

  • Mechanics
    • 1. Measurement & Vectors
    • 2. Kinematics in One Dimension
    • 3. Kinematics in Two & Three Dimensions
    • 4. Forces & Newtons Laws of Motion
    • 5. Uniform Circular Motion
    • 6. Work & Energy
    • 7. Momentum and Impulse
  • Rotational Mechanics & Gravity
    • 8. Rotational Kinematics
    • 9. Rotational Dynamics
    • 10. Gravitation
  • Solids, Fluids, & Waves
    • 11. Elasticity
    • 12. Simple Harmonic Motion
    • 13. Fluids
    • 14. Mechanical Waves & Sound
    • 15. Linear Superposition of Waves, Interference, & Music
  • Thermodynamics
    • 16. Temperature & Heat
    • 17. Transfer of Heat
    • 18. Ideal Gas Law & Kinetic Theory
    • 19. Thermodynamics

II. Goals and Learning Outcomes


  • I. Master the material presented in the text and notes and lectures Learning Outcomes
  • II. Perform at the appropriate level on the four exams and final exam >69 = C; >79 = B; >89 = A.
  • III. Textbooks, Readings, and Other Materials Jones & Childers Introduction to Physics or equivalent text
  • IV. Overall Structure of the Course
  • V. Course Requirements Perform on 4 Exams of one hour 15 min each plus a cumulative 2 hour final exam. Attendance is required and class participation via the QRECT classroom software system is mandatory. The final exam counts as two exams and can be used in place of one of the other exams. Daily attendance and class performance as well as homework grades are also included in the computation of the final grade.
  • VI. Course Policies
  • VII. Assessment and Grading
  • VIII. Course Outline / Course Schedule
    Class # Date Day Chapter Remark
    1 Aug 18 Th 1  
    2 Aug 23 Tu 2  
    3 Aug 25 Th 3  
    4 Aug 30 Tu 4  
    5 Sep 1 Th 5  
    6 Sep 6 Tu   Exam 1
    7 Sep 8 Th 6  
    8 Sep 13 Tu 7  
    9 Sep 15 Th 8  
    10 Sep 20 Tu 9  
    11 Sep 22 Th 9  
    12 Sep 27 Tu 10  
    13 Sep 29 Th   Exam 2
    14 Oct 4 Tu 11  
    15 Oct 6 Th 12  
    16 Oct 11 Tu 13  
      Oct 13 Th 14  
    17 Oct 18 Tu 15  
    18 Oct 20 Th   No Classes - Fall Break
    19 Oct 25 Tu   Exam 3
    20 Oct 27 Th 16  
      Nov 1 Tu 16  
    21 Nov 3 Th 17  
    22 Nov 8 Tu 17  
    23 Nov 10 Th 18  
    24 Nov 15 Tu 18  
    25 Nov 17 Th 19  
    26 Nov 22 Tu   Exam 4
      Nov 24 Th   No Classes - Thanksgiving
    27 Nov 29 Tu   Review
    28 Dec 1 Th   Last Class
      Dec     Final Exam

Instructions for answering questions online

  1. Click on this link to access QRECT.
  2. Register for an account by clicking on "Register for an account". Enter your first name, last name, a login id of your choosing, email address, and a password. The email address must be a valid email address.
  3. Go back to the login page.
  4. Log into the site using the login id and password that you provided during registration.
  5. After login, if Dr. Johnson has added you to his class in the application, you will see a link for Dr. Johnson's class.
    Click on that link. If you do not see a link to the class, you have not been added to the class yet. Log out and check back later.
  6. Click on the link for the question set.
  7. Put in an an answer for each question and click the button next to each answer to submit it. You may change your answer by entering your new answer in the space provided and click on "Update" next to the answer.
  8. Log out once you have answered all of the questions.


PDF icon Introductory Physics Notes with Links to Video Lecture PDF icon Previous Exam Questions PDF icon Physics Notes Microsoft Office document icon Mathematics Background for Physics 201-202 Microsoft Office document icon Final Exam Dec 12 2003. Microsoft Office document icon Final Exam Dec. 2000 PDF icon Student Course Notes VERY USEFUL
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