UC Santa CruzUC Santa Cruz Department of Physics
View of the Bay from Campus

Physics 105 (Fall 2012): Mechanics

Course information

Instructor: Stefano Profumo
Office: ISB, Room 325
Phone Number: 831-459-3039
Office Hours: Monday 11:00AM - 12:30PM, Wednesday 11:15-12:00, or by appointment
E-mail: profumo AT ucsc.edu

Teaching Assistant: Jonathan Kozaczuk
Office: ISB, Room 329
Phone Number: 831-459-1962
Office Hours: Monday 2:30PM-3:30PM
E-mail: jkozaczu AT ucsc.edu

Click here to download the syllabus in PDF format


Class Hours

Lectures: Tu-Th, 8:00 AM - 9:45 AM, PhysSciences 110

Discussion Section: Wed, 5:30 PM - 6:40 PM, Nat Sci Annex 101

Course description

Particle dynamics in one, two, and three dimensions. Conservation laws. Small oscillations, Fourier series and Fourier integral solutions. Phase diagrams and nonlinear motions, Lagrange's equations, and Hamiltonian dynamics.


Required Textbook


Other Textbooks

Course Outline


Course Grading and Requirements

Student evaluations will be based on their performance in the following three tasks. The tasks and their relative weights in determining the students' overall course grades are given below (see however below for special ``reward points''):\\

  • 35% Weekly Homework (9 problem sets)

  • 25% Midterm Exam (Thursday, October 25, 8:45 AM -- 9:45 AM)

  • 40% Final Exam (Monday, December 10, 8:00 AM -- 11:00 AM)

Weekly Homework

Weekly homework assignments will be posted on the eCommons website each Thursday (with the exception of Thanksgiving Thursday November 22) and are due in class, at the beginning of class on the Thursday of the following week. The homework problem sets are (effectively) not optional, and will consist of a few problems from Kibble and Berkshire. You are encouraged to discuss the class material and homework problems with your classmates and to work in groups, but all submitted problems should represent your own work and understanding. Late homework can be submitted to the grader, but will not contribute any points to the final grade. I will grant one late homework exception-to-policy, for exceptional and well-motivated and documented reasons. The Grader will grade each homework, and is responsible for the given grade. Grades for each homework problem will consist of 2 points (mostly correct), 1 point (less than 50% c orrect) or 0 points. Homework solutions may be made available on the course website on the homework due date or shortly thereafter. The TA is responsible for the homework solutions. There will be 9 homework assignments, and they will contribute about 4% each to the final grade, for a total of 35%.

Discussion Section and Reward Points

Discussion Section will be typically devoted to discussing problems in the assigned homework. The discussion will be lead by the TA, who will survey the audience and suggest which homework problems to examine at the beginning of the section. The problems will then be discussed at the board by "volunteers", who will be awarded "Reward Points" (at the discretion of the TA). Reward Points will be counted as an extra credit towards the final, overall course grade and can contribute up to 10% of the overall grade.

Midterm and Final

The midterm exam and the final exam will be held in the same classroom as the lectures. The midterm will be a 1 hour written exam in class (regular lecture time) on Thursday October 25, on chapters 1-8, while the final (Monday December 10, 8:00AM-11:00AM) will be three hours long and cover the complete course material. Both the midterm and the final will be closed-book, but you will be allowed one page, A4 format, front and back, of notes. Only non-graphical, non-programmable calculators will be allowed (it will be up to the discretion of the Instructor to decide whether a calculator is or not allowed). Laptop computers and more or less smart cellular phones of any kind will not be allowed. A practice midterm and final will be handed out a week before the exams. You must take the final exam to pass the course. The midterm will be worth 24\% of the grade, the final 40%

The minimal score not to fail the class is 60%.

The final grade will follow the percent guideline below:

  • 60% to 70%: C range

  • 70% to 85%: B range

  • 85% to 100%: A range
Grade Chart

Galileo's Corner

La filosofia e' scritta in questo grandissimo libro che continuamente ci sta aperto innanzi a gli occhi (io dico l'universo), ma non si puo' intendere se prima non s'impara a intender la lingua, e conoscer i caratteri, ne' quali e' scritto. Egli e' scritto in lingua matematica, e i caratteri son triangoli, cerchi, ed altre figure geometriche, senza i quali mezzi e' impossibile a intenderne umanamente parola; senza questi e' un aggirarsi vanamente per un oscuro laberinto. (Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore, 1623)

Philosophy (Knowledge) is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes (I call it the Universe), but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word; without knowledge of those, it's a useless wandering in a dark labyrinth.