las positas in fall

link to learning resources page link to lab manual link to text website link to contact instructor
Instructor: Eric W. Harpell
Office: 1830 Science building

office hours: T 12 - 1:30(1830) , W 1 - 2:30 (tutorial center), Th 12 - 2(1830)
phone: 925-424-1379

Plato describing the aether

Click here for Quiz 2
Welcome to Physics 8D! This semester we will explore some of the most interesting and subtle concepts in physics, Connecting the work of Galileo, Newton, and Maxwell, to the theories of Einstein, Schroodinger, Hawkings, and many others. As in physics 8A - 8C, problem solving and laboratory experiments will be important tools in mastering the concepts of modern physics. Of course, There are many more directions to explore than we will have time for, so a special project due at the end of the semster will allow you to delve deeper into an area only briefly explored in the course. For more General information, please see the Course Outline for Physics 8D.

required materials

textbook for Physics 8A Knight, Randal K: : Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 2e, Volume 1I (with Mastering Physics)
  • Scientific Calculator: Any style you are comfortable using!
  • Computer Access: At home or on campus.

Optional materials:

  • Student Study Guide with selected Solutions, for Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Knight, Vol II

Assessment and Grading

Your course grade will be based on a percentage of the total points in the class as follows:

Assessments points/item total
4 Exams 50 200
8 - 10 labs 10 - 20 50
Final project 50 50
final exam (can replace lowest exam) 50 50
Homework from Mastering Physics 15-20 150
attendance and participation 30 30
Total   630 points

Final Grades:

A 88.5% (558 pts)
B 76.5% (482 pts)
C 65% (409 pts)
D 50% (315 pts)

note that grades on individual assessments will be weighted to agree with the points listed at left. For example, if mastering astronomy activities may total 175 point, the total will be multiplied by 150/175 at the end of the class.

Hopefully, no one in physics 8D will have to worry about getting a "D" or an "F" , but if you aren't turning in assignments, your point total may be less than 65%, and then you will have to worry about it!

Ancient Physics Proverb #1: It is far wiser to turn in what you have on time, and get some points, then to prolong your work past the due date and get none

Lab Write-ups will be due on the week following the last lab session for a particular lab (some labs may take more than one week to complete). Since labs are on Fridays, this means that the complete lab report will be due no later than the start of class on Wed, 12 days later. You may turn them in one class session late, but they will be given a maximum grade of 90%. If you are unable to attend class for a legitimate reason, then you can still get 100% if you bring in the lab when you return. After that, no points will be given except in the unlikely event that the instructor agrees (ahead of the due date) that more time is in order. Note that labs in physics 8D will include "traditional" lab experiments, computer simulations, and assigned problems. Approximately half of your time in physics 8D will involve completing the lab activities and reports. For approximately half of the labs reports, you will have the option of turing in one lab write-up for the entire team. Other reports must be done individually. More information will be provided in class and in the class schedule.

Ancient Physics Proverb #2: If a group works on a single lab report, than each section of the lab report should glow with the collaborative efforts of the entire group.

Note on efficiency

While I encourage neat and thorough write-ups (utilizing computerized tables, graphs, and including illustrations) you should be aware that each write up is worth only a small fraction of your total grade. Be wary about investing more time than necessary on a single lab report at the expense of studying for exams and doing homework problems. In other words "pick your battles wisely!"

Extra Credit: There isn't any! Please don't ask to do it. The participation points will reflect your efforts to go "above and beyond" the normal class requirements.


problems from textbook and from the mastering physics websites are assigned in the schedule/syllabus. These are to be worked out outside of class, and discussed in class. All assigned problems are to be done in Mastering Astronomy. Many are also in the end of chapter problems in your textbook, so you can work on them "off line" and submit them later on-line for credit. You will see a few problems on quizzes in a similar form to those some cases, the tested problems will be identical to assigned problems. Working problems are a very important part of the physics course, so be sure to set aside 5 - 10 hours a week to work on them. There will be 8 or 9 homework assignments, all due on Wednesdays unless otherwise indicated in the class schedule. Remember that when you register for Mastering Physics, you need to give the
class ID: MPHARPELL40348
so your work counts for credit! Late work will be accepted, but it is automatically marked down to 50% after the due date and time. .

participation and attendance

You are strongly encouraged to come to class prepared with questions about material covered in lecture, on line, in the text, or simply from current events you have heard about. About 5% of the total points possible in the class will be assigned at the discretion of the instructor for your "informed participation" in class. Of course, if you don't come to class you can't participate! Coming to office hours can also help in this regard, especially if you can't make it to class.

Field Trips

Venus Express from ESA

Field Trips to LLNL, LBL, Chabot Science Center,SLAC, and elsewhere are being considered. At least one field trip will definitely take place..Field Trips will be on Friday and will replace the regularly schedule lab session. Suggestions for other field trips are welcomed. The dates are still to be arranged. Students who cannot attend a field trip will be provided with an equivalent project.

Class Schedule
Click here for Quiz 2

Exam Dates:

2--3/12(note change)

Final Exam: 5/28 9:30 - 11:20


Mastering Physics Due dates and times.
1- 1/30 5 pm
2 2/12 9:30 am
3 2/26 5 pm
4 3/12 9:30 am (note change)
5 4/2 5 pm
6 4/16 9:30 am
7 4/30 5 pm
8 5/12 9:30 am

  • Project Due:  5/14
  • Spring Break: 4/5-4/9
  • Project Presentations 5/14, 5/21

Supplemental Information by Week (Revised during semester)
last revision 2/04/2010

Week, date chapter in text lab assignment supplemental websites/handouts
Week 1 1/20 Chapter 37 Michaelson Morely Interferometer
Week 2 1/27 37 Virtual Relativity
3 2/3 37

Pair Production worksheet

Pair production lecture(ppt)

4 2/10 37, 38 quiz in lab (37 only)
5/ 2/17 38 charge to mass ratio of electron  
6 2/24 38

Emission line spectra

7 3/3 39 Planck's Constant

lecture notes on the Photoelectric Effect


8 3/10 25
quiz 2 in lab (note change)
Photoelectric effect or Blackbody Radiation

Blackbody Radiation (from hyper physics)
distribution functions (pdf)

The Quantum Atom (you tube)

9 3/17 25, 40 Photoelectric effect or Blackbody Radiation Physics 2000--Quantum Atom
10 3/24 40 Franck Hertz Experiment or
Electron Diffraction
11 3/31 40 Franck Hertz Experiment or
Electron Diffraction
4/5 - 4/9 spring Break hula dancers  
12 4/14 41 quiz 3 in lab wave function sketcher
13 4/21 41 virtual Quantum Mechanics Lecture notes on the Hydrogen atom wave function
14 4/26 42 to be arranged  
15 5/7 43 nuclear physics 1  
16 5/12 quiz in class. nuclear physics 2  
17 handout-particle physics and cosmology to be arranged