Syllabus - Physics 191
Fall Semester 2003

Lead Faculty:

Professor James Linnemann
Room 3245 BMPS Building
        355-9200 extension 2125
Print this syllabus, which also contains the schedule for your course. Follow the links in the schedule at the end of this syllabus to print out the writeup for your next experiment before you come to class. Click here to find the instructor for your section.

Course Description

In this course we will perform a series of simple experiments illustrating several principles of classical mechanics. You should find these exercises helpful in illuminating topics covered in the lecture courses dealing with the same topics.  The official course description is here.

The experiments are described on the PHY191 web pages linked to the schedule. You are expected to read the material and prepare yourself before coming to class as there will not be sufficient time to start from scratch during the three hour laboratory session.  In general, the laboratory period will start with a brief quiz ( = 10% of lab grade) to test on preparation. 

You will do the experiments in groups of two.   You may collaborate with your partner in data taking, but you are expected to do independent calculations and write independent reports.

The  reference for this course is "An Introduction to Error Analysis" by John R. Taylor, published by University Science Books. Some homework will be assigned from this text. The homework will be handed in with the lab report and will comprise part of the lab report grade. Here are some of the most important things to know from Taylor.

The first laboratory session during the week of August 25 will consist of 3 hours of computing and graphing exercises. With the exception of the final lab (Exp. 6), all subsequent labs will consist of two 3 hour sessions with groups of 2 students. Each student will be responsible for his/her own  lab report. Your instructor will initial your data printout before you leave the lab. Each report will be handed in at the beginning of the next lab session after the in-class portion of the lab is completed. For example, the report for Exp.1 will be due at the  beginning of your lab during the week of Sept. 8th. Late reports will not be accepted. 


During this course, we expect you to:
* to become familiar with some laboratory experiment and procedures.
* to make careful and critical measurements.
* to record and organize your observations.
* to estimate uncertainties in your measurements and to judge whether your measurements are consistent with previous measurements.

Before each class, you will be expected to read the description of the experiment and read sections of the book by Taylor to clarify how to perform the necessary error estimations.  This advance preparation is essential if you wish to successfully finish the lab and to solve the quiz over the lab material that will be given to you at the beginning of class.  Your laboratory measurements will be performed during class.  You should also perform calculations during class to determine whether your measurements are valid.  If you blindly take data without checking it, your grade will suffer.


The Notebook:  You must purchase a lab book which has carbon paper and duplicate sheets in it.  You will record your original measurements in the lab book.  All calculations, answers to the questions, error estimations, etc. must be there.  Using the carbon paper, you will make two copies of the lab write-up.  The original will be handed in to your instructor at the begining of the next lab period.  You will retain the copy for your records and to assist you in the preparation for the final exam.  In your lab report you will provide:

1.  a short description of your procedure - there is no need to duplicate the material presented in the lab write-up.  This description should include identifying material which will allow your instructor to determine the equipment and sample material used in your experiments.

2.  all your original data including the uncertainties in each measurement.**

3.  all the steps used in your data analysis including your calculations of the uncertainties in the derived quantities you calculate.**

4.  all of your results and conclusions including any graphs or tables.**

5.  answers to all questions posed in the lab write-up.

6.  a brief discussion of ways that you think the experiment could be improved.

7. the assigned homework.

**  This may be in the form of computer printouts stapled or taped to the lab write-up.  Your lab report will consist of the information listed above plus your name, student number, section number, and experiment title.

All your work should be on the lab report - including any mistakes or duplicate measurements.  In other words, your lab report is a recording of the procedure that you went through including, any false steps. False steps should be neatly crossed out and a note should be recorded in the lab book indicating the nature of the mistake.  This is the method used by practicing scientists for the recording of their experimental measurements.

Attendance is mandatory.  If you have an excused medical absence, your instructor will determine whether you will be permitted to do a makeup or whether you will be graded on  the remaining reports.


Your grade will be based on the results of your experiments, on the quality of your reports and on a practical exam. The lab schedule and the grade weights are given in the table below. Print out and study the lab writeup for your next lab before class.

August 25  Computing and Graphing 20 points
Sep 1  NO CLASS  
1A  Sep 8  Random and Systematic Errors see below
1B  Sep 15  Random and Systematic Errors 40 points
2A  Sep 22  Free Fall see below
2B  Sept 29  Free Fall 40 points
3A  Oct 6  Simple Pendulum see below
3B  Oct 13  Simple Pendulum 40 points
4A  Oct 20  Collisions in 1 Dimension see below
4B  Oct 27  Collisions in 1 Dimension 40 points
5A  Nov 3  Simple Harmonic Motion see below
5B  Nov 10  Simple Harmonic Motion  40 points
Nov 17 Rotational Motion  20 points
-- Nov 24 NO CLASS  
--  Dec. 1  IN-LAB PRACTICAL EXAM 40 points
    Total 280 points

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