PHY 2048 - Physics 1 with Calculus - Spring 2014



Prof. Darin Acosta
2035 New Physics Bldg.
Phone: 846-3144
Prof. Andrew Rinzler
2251 New Physics Bldg.
Phone: 392-5656


Send e-mail to both instructors acosta AT, rinzler AT

Please use these addresses rather than communicating through E-learning. Please note the "phys" in both addresses. Please use a descriptive subject line (for example "PHY2048"). Having all questions sent to both instructors ensures that your information is not lost and that your email is answered in a timely manner by either instructor. Note that homework help is given during your Discussion section and during office hours, not through e-mail. Don't forget to replace "AT" with "@"


Class lecture

MWF Period 2 (8:30 - 9:20am) 1001 NPB
MWF Period 3 (9:35 - 10:25pm) 1001 NPB


Fundamentals of Physics, Volume 1 (parts 1 & 2), 9th edition
Halliday, Resnick & Walker with Wiley Plus (required).
See Textbook for details on purchasing.

About the course

PHY2048 is a calculus-based introduction to general physics, Part I. Topics covered include basic equations of motion, concepts of force and torque, linear and angular momenta, work, kinetic and potential energy. We will consider point-like and finite-size objects, as well as fluids. We will discuss such periodic phenomena as oscillations and waves. Gravitation, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, is also covered in this course.

Our goal at all times is to help you understand the basic physical principles so that you can apply them to real situations. In addition to providing the basic theoretical underpinnings to the subject, we use many examples, "concept problems", physical demonstrations and virtual demonstrations. We also show many examples of everyday tools and advanced instruments that utilize these principles.

This web site serves as the syllabus for the course. Each page on the web site has a link on the menu at left. You are required to read each of these pages. The web site is detailed and chances are any policy questions you may have are answered here.


The course will rely heavily on the following level of math (see textbook Appendix E for details). If you are not competent at this level you should take the appropriate refresher course(s) before taking this class; otherwise, you are bound to fail.

  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Analytic Geometry
  • Vectors
  • Calculus 1 and
  • Calculus 2 (corequisite)

Required work

You are responsible for the ongoing course work, which is described on this web site. This incliudes reading the text for the assigned material, attending lecture, doing the weekly homework, attending discussion section and taking the quizzes, and taking the exams. The schedule for each of these is given on the course calendar on the Schedule link at left. The grading policy is described on the Grading Policy link at left.

Do not underestimate the amount of time and work it takes to master concepts in this class!

Effective strategies for learning physics

From interviewing students we have found that the A to B+ students have better habits and spend more time on this course than B and C students. In particular, they rarely miss class, do all the recommended homework problems and more, read ahead and study the material for several hours a week (not just before exams). Developing good habits at the start of the semester, before things get busy and you fall behind, will help you succeed.

A large fraction of your study time should be devoted to problem solving, which is essential to learning and cannot be replaced by mere listening and reading. This is the reason we provide you a significant number of end-of-chapter questions and problems, web-based problems, quizzes and Java applets.

The following strategies will help you to do well in the course:

  • Use office hours. If you don't understand something, ask someone during office hours. Office hours are spread across many hours of the week for your convenience. There is also a Tutoring Center with a number of people and resources for students in Physics courses, and a student organization, Tau Beta Pi, which provides help on the homework and reviews before exams.

  • Keep up with the course. The best strategy for success is to stay up to date with the readings and homework. In particular, solving problems will improve your performance on exams and quizzes far better than memorizing formulas or cramming. A good rule of thumb is that you should be spending about 6-9 hours on the material outside of class.

  • Attend lectures and discussions regularly. We cannot stress enough the importance of coming to class. Although you might not understand everything presented in lecture and discussion, you are unconsciously processing information that will serve you well later. Frequent class skipping contributes strongly to poor student performance.

  • Read ahead before lecture. Even though you may not understand the chapter material, 1-2 advance readings "primes" your brain to be receptive to the material when it is discussed in lecture or discussion.

  • Ask questions. Your question is not stupid and is probably widely shared.