Physics 2D3 Course Outline 2012

Dr. N. McKay

Text: John R. Taylor, Classical Mechanics, University Science Books

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Notes, assignments, and announcements will be available through Avenue at

The text for the course is well-written and reasonably complete. For additional reading, browse through the QA805-QA807 section in the library, if the library still has any books. Check the preface and table of contents first, as elementary and advanced texts are randomly intermingled. In previous years we have used Introduction to Classical Mechanics by Atam Arya, and Analytical Mechanics by Fowles and Cassiday (edition 4, by Fowles, is terse but very good; later editions not so much). Somewhat more advanced texts include Classical Dynamics by Marion and Thornton and Classical Mechanics by Chow. Both present the same material at about a third-year level. Newtonian Dynamics by Ralph Baierlein is excellent, but also a little more advanced than Taylor. A classic graduate-level text is Classical Mechanics by Goldstein.

A first-year Physics text (e.g., Serway, Knight, Young and Freedman, etc.) will be very helpful, particularly if it has been a few years since you took first-year physics. Try the QC21-QC23 section of a library. You may want to review the math you learned in first year (differential and integral calculus, complex numbers), so pull out your old math text, or borrow an older edition from the library.

Only the Casio fx-991 calculator may be used during tests and the final examination.

Exam, 50%
Midterm tests, 35%
Assignments, 15%
will be combined using a 100-point scale. We reserve the right to alter the weightings given above, provided it does not decrease a student's grade.

The final exam will be three hours long, during the December exam period. Two midterm tests will be held; dates and locations to be announced. There will be about eight or nine weekly assignments, 3 to 5 questions each. Students are expected to attend all lectures, take notes, and participate in discussions. From time to time, exercises or quizzes may be given during the lecture.

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term if necessary. It is the responsibility of each student to Avenue to Learn and the course website weekly during the term and to note any changes.

Academic Ethics and Collaboration: Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. a grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. It is the responsibility of the student to understand just what does constitute academic dishonesty and to be aware of the penalties. Please refer to the policies posted at .
In this course all students are expected to complete their assignments independently. You are encouraged to discuss assignment problems with other students, and to share ideas about general approaches to the solution. However, each student should work out the final details independently, and write up the final answer without referring to any written solution or rough work from any other source. This particularly forbids “working on the assignment together” and handing in two or more substantially identical solutions.

The course:

Physics 2D3 introduces the student to the analytical methods used in Newtonian mechanics. A few particular problems (e.g., the 1-D oscillator, Kepler orbits) will be solved in some detail, but the emphasis is on teaching general methods and principles. Assignment and exam questions will ask the student to derive a solution or prove a result from basic principles, using the same general approach presented in class. The objective is to teach the methods of classical mechanics rather than simply the results.

Newtonian mechanics describes the world using second-order differential equations. Methods of solution are developed as we go, without assuming a prior course in differential equations. The student is assumed to be familiar with complex numbers, vector algebra (dot products, cross products) and differential and integral calculus. We make some use of integral calculus in 2 and 3 dimensions, in rectangular and polar coordinates.

The following list of topics, and particularly the implied schedule, should be regarded as approximate. Some sections of the chapters listed will be omitted:

  1. (Text chapter 1) Newton's Laws, coordinate systems (2 or 3 lectures)
  2. (Text chapter 2) Projectiles (3 lectures)
  3. (Text chapter 3) Momentum and angular momentum (2 or 3 lectures)
  4. (Text chapter 4) Energy (4 or 5 lectures)
  5. (Text chapter 5) Oscillations (5 lectures)
  6. (Text chapter 7) Langrange's Equations (5 lectures)
  7. (Text chapter 8) 2-body central force problem (3 lectures?)
  8. (Text chapter 9) Accelerated reference frames (3 or 4 lectures)
  9. (Text Chapter 10, sections 1--6) Rigid-body rotation in 3-D (2 or 3 lectures, if time permits)