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College of Arts & Sciences
Advanced Solutions Group

Physics 202

*Documents at the bottom of the page*

Class Meeting Time(s): M T W Th 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Classroom: PSC Room 006 (Jones Physical Science Center Basement)

Instructor: Dr. J. E. Johnson

Text: "Physics" Cutnell & Johnson 7th Edition

Class Web Site 
Consult this site for copies of the class notes, past exams, and other information

Physics Department Web Site

Course Requirements and Guidelines


  • Lecture Attendance is required and all exams must be taken.


  • There are 4 exams of one hour each that count 100 points each.
  • You are allowed a ‘one memory, non programmable calculator’ for tests and pencils.
  • You are NOT allowed any other material or notes - even blank paper.
  • You are NOT allowed a cell phone, or other device of any type or form (such as wireless devices, PDAs, computers, notes, information, or Blackberry type devices at your seat.
  • Possession at your desk during exams of anything other than the calculator & pencils is considered a violation of the honor code.
  • Makeup exams for very extenuating circumstances are allowed but are longer.
  • The final is cumulative, two hours, and counts 200 points. There is normally no curve for exams.


  • Anyone who takes all 4 exams in the scheduled class times can elect to take their average of those 4 grades and the final is exempted. (No CAPA or other points can be used here).
  • Another grade is computed by dropping the lowest of the four grades and taking the three highest exams plus the final (based on 200 pts), & dividing by 5. If you achieve over 50% of the CAPA problems, 2 points of extra credit overall will be then added for the course average). NOTE These CAPA points are only used if the final is taken and used for the grade computation.
  • The highest of these two grades, as computed above, will be your final grade.
  • Thus A is >=90 (actually an 89.50 or higher) , B is >= 80 etc.
  • I use ‘+’ grades for B+ (>86.50 ie 87) & C+ (>76.50 ie 77) (but not for D).
  • Lab Grades are assigned separately and constitute a separate course of 1 hour.

Purpose of Physics 201 - 202

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. Specifically to understand this underlying theoretical structure along with its successes and current limitations.
  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.

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. 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 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. The 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.


PDF icon Physics Notes PDF icon Old Physics Notes Microsoft Office document icon Mathematics Background for Physics 201-202 Microsoft Office document icon Old Physics Notes PDF icon Phys 202-Spring 2012 Syllabus PDF icon Physics 212 Notes Office spreadsheet icon Physics Dates
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