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PHYS 103: Physics for Computer Science I

Igor Kuskovsky

(Submission #71)

Course Description

This class deals with fundamental principles underlying our understanding of the physical world around us. More specifically it is concerned with several areas of “classical physics,” which were developed between 16th and early 20th centuries. This course primarily designed for students pursuing a career in the field of computer science. In this class students will learn such the basic concepts as motion, gravity, energy, electric and magnetic fields, wave motion, etc. and methods used by physicists in explaining properties of the natural world. They will find out how discoveries in physics not only provided civilization with knowledge, new technologies and devices, but also shaped and changed it. Interaction between students and teaching staff is organized in the form of three components: lectures, recitations and labs. Students learn material, however, not only during scheduled class times, but also during their preparation for classes. The preparation includes: reading a textbook and additional reading materials, solving homework problems, and performing other assignments deemed necessary by an instructor. Main goal of lectures is to deliver main conceptual content of the studied material. Organization of lectures depends on individual styles of professors teaching the course, but active involvement of students in discussion of the subject matter will always be one of the main means of achieving this goal. Recitations play a more technical role: during recitations students sharpen their practical skill in applying new concepts to typical situations occurring in real life or during scientific inquiry. During labs, students are introduced to and obtain hands-on experience of empirical methods of scientific inquiry. They learn to design meaningful scientific experiments, use basic measuring devices and instruments, collect and analyze experimental data to make reasonable scientific inferences.

Topics in this class include: Mechanics: Kinematics (description of motion); projectile motion in everyday phenomena and in the history of physics; Newton’s laws as the foundation of a mechanical world view and their application in real life; circular motion; Newton’s law of universal gravity and its implications for astronomy, cosmology and space exploration; momentum and its conservation, kinematics of collisions; mechanical energy and its conservation, general concept of energy and its application in physics and beyond.

Elements of Wave Motion: Oscillatory motion; simple harmonic oscillator as a universal model of linear oscillations; mechanical waves; the traveling wave model; speed of waves; superposition and standing waves; electromagnetic waves; light as electromagnetic wave; interference of light waves; reflection and transmission.

Elements of Electromagnetism: Electric and magnetic fields; electric potential and voltage; current and resistance; Ohm’s law and electric circuits; electric devices.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Natural Science Lab (NS-L)
Context of Experience: Not Applicable
Extended Requirement: Abstract or Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

Additional Course information

Credits: 4
Prerequisites: Math 142 or 152
Existing Course: Existing
Existing Course Number: Phys 103
Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester
Other (if specified): 
Number of Sections: 1
Number of Seats: 24


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, Administration (DOC)]   [Syllabus/Syllabi (DOC)]  

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