NYU General Physics I

This syllabus is for NYU CAS Physics course PHYS-UA 11 in the Fall 2013 semester.


name contact office office hours
lecture David W. Hogg ude.uyn@ggoh.divad Meyer 501 Wed 15:30–17:00
laboratory Chui-Lai Cheung ude.uyn@gnuehclc Meyer 333 by appointment
Giga Chkareuli moc.liamg@iluerakhc TBD Thu 13:00-14:00
Phil Frankel ude.uyn@832fmp Meyer 639A Wed 15:50–16:50
Ruben Gepner moc.liamg@renpegnebur Meyer 923 Mon 15:30–16:30
Ian Harnarine ude.uyn@hknai Meyer 639A Wed 12:00–13:00
Deepak Khurana ude.uyn@anaruhk.kapeed Meyer 517 Wed 14:00–15:00
Shahab Kohani ude.uyn@1343ks Meyer 516 Fri 14:00–15:00
Layla Quinones ude.uyn@012qml TBD Tue,Wed 09:00–10:00
Ellery Russell ude.uyn@852rre Meyer 639A Fri 13:00-14:00
Michael Salvati ude.uyn@itavlas.ekim Meyer 228 by appointment
Shu Xie ude.uyn@133xs Meyer 639 Thu 15:00-17:00
Guolong Zhu ude.uyn@924zg Meyer 639 Wed 15:00-16:30
admin. William LePage +1.212.998.7704 Meyer 424

Aims and scope

There are several aims of this course, not limited to

The scope of the course is set by a finite set of problems. This set of problems is the union of all the problems seen or discussed in lecture, all the problems seen or discussed in the laboratory component of the course, and the set of problems given in the weekly problem sets.

All exam questions on all of the term exams will refer only to problems from this extremely limited set of problems. Exam problems will be repeats of problems seen before, with only minor changes or transformations.

There is no assigned textbook for the lecture component of the course. Any calculus-based mechanics textbook published in the last ten years would provide an acceptable reference work. Prof Hogg's favorite book is Matter and Interactions Volume 1 by Chabay and Sherwood (any edition). If you want comfort and familiarity, then University Physics Volume 1 by Young and Freedman (also any edition) will mesh well with what happens next semester. Once again, the scope is set by the finite set of problems, not by any textbook.

Calculus, trigonometry, and algebra will all be involved. If you are rusty, brush up.


Grades will be based on a total score generated with these percentages:

percentage comments
laboratory reports 20lowest lab grade is dropped
term exam 1 20
term exam 2 20
term exam 3 20
term exam 4 20
total 100

Grades will be assigned in one-to-one correspondence with the total score according to the following percentage ranges:

total score greater than:9086 827268 645440percent
final grade at least: A A−B+B B−C+C D


For the laboratory component of this course, you will need the General Physics I laboratory manual. There are laboratory sessions for most weeks of the semester, and for each one you will be required to hand in a laboratory report, which will be graded. Your laboratory instructor will explain what is expected in a good laboratory report.

Laboratory reports are due at the start of the laboratory session immediately following the session in which the experiment is performed. A late reports is penalized by reducing the maximum possible grade by 50 percentage points if it comes in within a week of the deadline; it is graded zero after that.

Absences from laboratories will be excused only for medical reasons with a doctor's note. No other excuses will be accepted. It is not possible to perform a laboratory experiment in advance of the scheduled laboratory time or after it. Laboratory experiments missed or reports not turned in for any reason will be graded zero unless there is a properly documented medical excuse. Importantly, if you miss or get a grade of zero on more than two laboratory experiments for any reason (medical or otherwise), you will not receive a passing grade for the course; the best grade you can receive in this situation is "Incomplete". You can only complete this incomplete by retaking the entire lab sequence (not just the labs you missed) in a subsequent semester.

If you are re-taking only the laboratory part of this course, you must contact both Prof Hogg and Mr LePage at the beginning of the semester to notify them of this situation, and you must be properly registered for the laboratory session you attend.

Your laboratory instructor will be responsible for grading your laboratory reports and for providing to Prof Hogg a laboratory grade for each student. Your instructor will construct your total laboratory grade from all but your worst (lowest-score) laboratory. If you have missed a laboratory for a properly documented medical reason, that laboratory will be pro-rated out of the total score. (If you have missed more than two for any reason, including medical, you will not pass the course; see above.) If we find that there are large and statistically significant differences in the grading policies or outcomes of different laboratory instructors, Prof Hogg will make adjustments in the interest of fairness.

For safety reasons, you are not permitted to attend a laboratory session for which you are not registered, even if it is led by the same instructor as your proper session. Laboratory reports based on attendance in wrong laboratory sessions will be given scores of zero.

Problem sets

A small number of problems are assigned each week to work on as you wish (see the table below). These problem sets are not to be handed in, but it is strongly recommended that you work on the problems, because they comprise part of the scope of the course.

Please feel free to discuss problem set questions with other students. Working together can be very educational and helpful; it is also more fun; it is encouraged! Of course it is also the case that you will not learn the material and not perform well on the exams if you have not struggled individually with the problems, so seek a balance.

The problem sets provide very valuable concrete example problems around which you can seek help and advice from your peers and from the tutoring and help resources we provide. Solutions to the problems will not be provided; these problem sets will be evaluated by your performance on the term exams.

Tutoring and help

The Department and University provide tremendous resources for this class; you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not use them:

Each of these resources has the important property that you get much more out of them if you come with a specific question ready in advance.

But above all, your best resource is your fellow students. Form a study group (ideally with students of comparable ability) and work together on the lecture material, on relevant reading, and on the problem sets. Choose a regular time and meet. Multiple lines of research show that students who make use of peer support learn better and perform better on the exams. They also have more fun.


There will be four Term Examinations during the term and no Final Exam. The Term Exams happen on dates given in the schedule below. The exams will take place in the lecture room. The scope of each exam will be made clear in lecture, but in brief, the Term Exams will concentrate on the material in the previous few weeks.

The exams will be open notes. Any written or printed documents are permitted in the exam room. On the other hand, electronic devices that can connect to a mobile-phone network or internet are forbidden. Furthermore, you do not need a calculator, so no electronic devices will be permitted at all.

Each exam question will be a small modification of a problem you have seen before, in lecture, in a laboratory, or on a problem set, with small changes or shortened to a sub-part of the problem. The idea is that good performance on the exams will demonstrate that you really have understood the work that has been assigned and discussed throughout the semester.

Missed exams will be graded zero unless there is a properly documented medical excuse. If there is a properly documented medical excuse for a missed term exam, it will be pro-rated out of the total score. No special arrangements will be made and no excuses will be granted for travel conflicts, no matter what. If you have a non-medical emergency that prevents you from making an examination, you will have to speak with a Dean of your College, not with the faculty in this course.

The exams are absolutely mandatory. If you miss or do not take or do not hand in more than one of the Term Exams for any reason (medical or otherwise), you will not receive a passing grade for the course; the best grade you can receive in this situation is Incomplete. You can only complete this incomplete by retaking the entire exam complement (not just the exams you missed, and possibly including a Final Exam) in a subsequent semester.

If you are re-taking only the exam part of this course, you must contact both Prof Hogg and Mr LePage at the beginning of the semester to notify them of this situation.

If you arrive late for any exam, you will not be given extra time. If you fail to obey any of the instructions given to you by course staff before, during, or after any exam, your exam may be graded zero or you may be subject to academic honesty proceedings.


audio recordings: While you are not forbidden from making audio recordings during class, you must not post, publish, or share them with others, not even in small sound bites. This is because the classroom setting is a private setting in which everyone should feel free to speak plainly and without regrets. Failure to obey this rule will be considered an act of academic dishonesty.

disabilities: If you have an arrangement with the Center for Students with Disabilities, you must present the relevant forms to Mr LePage one week in advance of each of the exams.

academic honesty: By University and Departmental policy, the lightest punishment we are permitted to give for academic dishonesty is a grade of F in the course and a disciplinary action by the College. Academic dishonesty includes (in addition to the usual kinds of cheating) misrepresenting matters of material importance to the instructors.

feedback: Please ask questions during lectures and laboratory sections and help sessions. If there is something you don't understand, many other students are having the same trouble, guaranteed. If there is some aspect of the pace, content, or structure of the course you don't like, or any other feedback you would like to give, please let Prof Hogg know as soon as possible. If you wait until course evaluation forms are handed out at the end of the semester, you will have benefited next year's class at the expense of your own!

legalese: We apologize for the legal tone of this syllabus. The subject of physics is great fun; operating an enormous class can be exasperating. All of the staff of this course will do everything we can to make this class interesting and enjoyable for everyone. Physics isn't just fun for Prof Hogg; it is his profession and his calling.


The following table is subject to change; please check back here frequently.

start of week lecture subjects laboratory problem set
Sep 02 dimesional analysis, estimation
Tues: Falling bucket
Thurs: The mass of the Earth
no laboratories this week ps 01
Sep 09 kinematics, acceleration and velocity
Tues: Thrown stone
Thurs: One-dimensional trajectory
Motion 1 ps 02
Sep 16 gravity and contact forces, planes and strings
Tues: blocks on planes
Thurs: Atwoods machine
Motion 2 ps 03
Sep 23 kinematics and dynamics, together
Tues: Term Exam 1 in Lecture on Sep 24
Thurs: banking airplane
Equilibrium of a Particle ps 04
Sep 30 kinematics and dynamics, pseudo-forces
Tues: textbook smackdown
Thurs: The swinging coffee cup
Newton's Second Law ps 05
Oct 07 energy and momentum
Tues: ski jump
Thurs: bullet in block
Centripetal Force ps 06
Oct 14 energy and momentum
Tues: no lecture on Oct 15
Thurs: elastic collision
no laboratories this week ps 07
Oct 21 torques and statics
Tues: Term Exam 2 in Lecture on Oct 22
Thurs: block on a light table
Conservation of Energy ps 08
Oct 28 statics and vibrations
Tues: hanging sign
Thurs: harmonic oscillators
Collisions in One Dimension ps 09
Nov 04 oscillators and sound
Tues: piano string
Thurs: waves on a string
Ballistic Pendulum ps 10
Nov 11 real oscillators
Tues: damped harmonic oscillators
Thurs: Term Exam 3 in Lecture on Nov 14
Work–Energy ps 11
Nov 18 fluids, buoyancy
Tues: fluid pressure
Thurs: balloon in the bus
Oscillations of a String ps 12
Nov 25 Bernoulli
Tues: water pipes
Thurs: no lecture on Nov 28
no laboratories this week ps 13
Dec 02 surface tension, biophysics
Tues: water tank
Thurs: droplet of water
Resonance Tube ps 14
Dec 09 biophysics
Tues: viscous blood flow
Thurs: Term Exam 4 in Lecture on Dec 12
no laboratories this week no ps

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