Where is it?
Wednesday, and Friday 9:00-10:00am in Hennings 201
Interactive Tutorial (mandatory):
Thursday 11:00-12:30 in Hennings 201
Tuesday 9:00-10:00, 11:00-2:30 (but I might be at
the homework session)
In other words, pretty much any time I'm not teaching.
should I take it (or why do I have to take it)?
and quantum mechanics form the basic framework upon which essentially
all of our current understanding of physics is based. The "classical"
physics that you learned in first year is an approximation that is
useful in studying phenomena at large distance scales and small
velocities. However, in order to go beyond understanding things that
are big (compared with atomic scales) and slow (compared with the speed
of light), we need quantum mechanics and relativity respectively. Condensed
matter physics (the physics of materials), atomic
physics, nuclear physics and particle physics all aim to understand
natural phenomena based on the physics at very short distance scales,
so quantum mechanics is essential. Large velocity processes are of
crucial importance in astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics,
and these subjects all make essential use of the theory of relativity.
Thus, a solid understanding of relativity and quantum mechanics is
needed in order to learn about almost any of the advances in physics
past the 19th century.
will be covered?
the first part of this course, we’ll see that
understanding physics involving relative velocities comparable to the
light requires a new framework, known as Special Relativity, that significantly
alters some of our basic notions of time and distance, and has some
consequences (e.g. that a person returning from a long voyage in space
large velocity will find herself younger than her twin who stayed on
We’ll see that many of the definitions of and relationships between
physical quantities (e.g. velocities,
momenta, energies) that you used in first-year physics are
approximations to more general formulae that hold true at large
Despite their puzzling consequences, the new rules form a completely
framework that allows precise calculations for classical phenomena at
velocity (e.g. you will be able to calculate precisely how much younger
returning twin will be).
second part of this course, we’ll discuss quantum
mechanics, an even more drastic modification of the basic framework of
that must be adopted to correctly explain physics at short distance
such as the physics of atoms and nuclei, and some physics at much
scales. We’ll discuss experimental evidence that light has particle
and that particles such as electrons can exhibit wavelike phenomena.
that the correct description of both light and electrons has features
of these classical concepts, but is fundamentally different from
classical physics. Some of the questions that we asked in classical
do not even make sense in quantum mechanics, so we will need to
questions we are allowed to ask before learning how to predict the
We’ll explore some basic consequences of the new framework and see how
can be used to explain various important phenomena in atomic and
more detailed information, see:
The list of TOPICS, to be correlated with
lecture dates as we cover them.
I plan to tell in the course (so you can see where each topic fits in
to the big picture).
GOALS for the course (i.e. what I hope you will take away
from this course).
Main Text: Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Volume 5 by Randall D. Knight
covers most of what we will discuss in class, in a relatively
elementary way. I have chosen this for its readability rather than its
completeness, since I would like you to read about the course material before it
is covered in class. There are a number of places where we will go into
more detail than is provided in the Knight text, but I will give out
supplementary notes in these cases. Be warned that in chapter 41, what
they are calling the Schrodinger equation is not what most physicists
refer to as the Schrodinger equation; I will emphasise the distinction
when we get to it. The text also glosses over the important fact that
the wavefunction is a complex function, but again, I will provide
supplementary material to explain this.
useful references (available in the library) with similar content but different styles:
"Modern Physics" by
Bernstein, Fishbane, and Gasiorowicz
"Modern Physics" by Tipler
"Modern Physics" by Krane
"Spacetime Physics" by
Taylor and Wheeler - a
classic book on special relativity with lots of discussion and examples
Thursday tutorial is an important part of the course. Each week, I'll
prepare a set of relatively simple questions designed to help you
understand some of the basic concepts of the course. You will work on
these in small groups, and the TAs and I will be there to answer
questions and help you along. If you find these to be a breeze, there
will also be one or two more challenging questions for you to puzzle
over. You should hand the worksheets in at the end of the session, but
you'll get full credit as long as you've made a reasonable attempt at
Reading quizzes: 2%
Clicker participation: 3%
Tutorial participation: 5%
Two midterms: 15% each
Final exam: 40%
Late assignments cannot be accepted since solutions will be posted
online shortly after assignments are due. However, lowest assignment
score and also lowest reading quiz score will be dropped. Clicker participation marks are
awarded solely based on participation (rather than having correct
answers), with full credit given if 80% of questions during the term
are answered. Students may miss one tutorial and still obtain full credit for the tutorial grade.
note about assignments:
are encouraged to discuss the assignments with each other, but
submitted assignments must be your own work. In other words, you should
not be looking at anyone else's assignment when you are writing up your
solutions, and similarly, you should not share your completed solution
with any of the other students. I have been urged to emphasise that
copying work is a very serious matter with serious consequences (e.g.