PHY 141: Mechanics (Honors)

(Fall 2022)

Calendar, Reading, Lecture notes and Problem sets

Laboratory Website


Instructor Professor Alice Quillen
Office: Bausch and Lomb Hall 424: I am often on the 4th floor in Bausch and Lomb Hall.
Email:alice.quillen x*x
Overview This class introduces the foundations of physics. We follow an analytical approach to physics calculations and introduce physics as an experimental science with a focus on mechanics. This class is intended to be the first physics class (at UR) taken by undergraduate students contemplating a major in physics. This means that the curriculum is not very flexible and that it may not be extremely easy to obtain a good grade. First-year physics at the extreme end might be The Feynman Lectures. We are going to aim for something more feasible and modest, but we hope to admire and inspire as well as introduce physics.
Topics Newton's laws, acceleration and momentum, conservation of energy and momentum, physical forces and interactions, harmonic and circular motion, contact physics, friction and drag, potential energy and work, angular momentum and torque, relativistic energy and momentum, collisions, introduction to laboratory measurement and data analysis, entropy, multiplicity of states and the laws of thermodynamics.
Lectures Thursdays 9:40-10:55am EST or EDT in Hoyt Auditorium, these are in person.
The first lecture in Hoyt Auditorium will be on Thursday Sept 1, 2022.
Zoom links We are hoping that zoom links will not become necessary this term!
Workshops/Recitations Workshops will be led by TA Reshad Rahman and TIs Aliza Panjwani and Moez Boussarsar
  • Tuesdays at 3:25-4:40pm EST/EDT in Bausch and Lomb 269 TA Reshad
  • Tuesdays at 4:50-6:05pm EST/EDT in Bausch and Lomb 203H TI Moez
  • Wednesdays at 2:00-3:15pm EST/EDT in Bausch and Lomb 269 TA Reshad
  • Wednesdays at 6:15-7:30pm EST/EDT in Hylan 202 TI Aliza
There will be 4 weakly workshop sections. They are the same thing as recitations. You can attend any of these workshops (unless the workshop TI or TA becomes overloaded). You need to sign up for a specific time, but you can attend any of the workshops. Workshops are for going over material covered in lectures, and for working on practice problems similar to those on the problem sets. Workshops are to help you understand and gain a practical working knowledge of physics.
This year Reshad Rahman is TA and he will also be grading the hand written portions of the assignments.
Workshops start Tuesday Sept 6, 2022.
Homeworks Homeworks are due weekly on Fridays at noon, EST or EDT.
The first problem set is due Friday Sept 9, 2022 at noon.
How are homeworks turned in? Each week there is a set of webwork problems and a set of problems that you will write solutions by hand. Webwork is completed on-line. You need to go through blackboard to get to the Webwork problems. The problems that you will write solutions by hand are posted as a pdf on my website. Click on the above calendar link (at the top of the page) to find these. Your hand written solutions to the homework problems can be turned into the homework locker on the first floor of Bausch and Lomb hall (next to the tunnels and Bausch and Lomb 104 which is the machine shop).
The webwork problems are meant to be short and straightforward (though I am not finding that editing webwork problems all that simple). There is some feeling of reward when you get a green box marking a problem as correct. The posted problems (handwritten solutions) are meant to be more challenging but you don't get any immediate gratification if you get the problems correct.
If you absolutely need to turn in or complete homework late, please request an extension from the workshop TA ahead of the due date. After the due date, homeworks will not be graded, except under exceptional cases. Your lowest two homework scores will be dropped from computing your grade so it should not be stress ful if you miss a deadline.
Class Website
Course materials are posted on this website, not on blackboard.

The Lab website

Labs will be overseen by Zach Brown, Alice Quillen, Tony Dimino and Lysa Wade.
This year we will have on-campus labs. During the semester you will complete about 5 laboratory experiments (roughly one experiment every two weeks).
There will be 3 lab sections that meet on Mondays. Data will be taken in Bausch & Lomb Hall 407. Labs start Monday Sept 12, 2022.
The Lab TA is Zach Brown . He is also reponsible for grading labs reports.
The Lab TIs are Cooper Orio, Baker Hase, and Claire Lee.
Lab sessions are
  • Mondays at 2:00-4:40pm in Bausch & Lomb Hall 407
  • Mondays at 4:50-7:30pm in Bausch & Lomb Hall 407
  • Mondays at 7:30-10:00pm in Bausch & Lomb Hall 407
Labs are going to somewhat different this year as we are slowly working on a new lab manual! Each on campus lab will take two Monday meetings. On the first Monday, you will take data. On the second Monday, students and TIs will again meet in B+L407 to discuss data analysis (this is often called Office hours). The lab report will be due the following Wed at noon EST/EDT. Each experiment will take about 2.5 hours to complete. The schedule of the experiments is tentatively:
  • Experiment 1: Measuring rolling friction on a track. Monday September 12,19 lab report due Wed Sept 21
  • Experiment 2: Atwood machines Monday Sept 26, Oct 3, lab report due Wed Oct 5
  • Experiment 3: The coefficient of restitution of a bouncing elastic sphere. Monday October 17, 24, lab report due Wed Oct 26
  • Experiment 4: Reducing peak force in an impact by crushing foam Monday Oct 31, Nov 7, lab report due Wed Nov 9
  • Experiment 5: Exploring objects that stretch Monday Nov 28, Dec 5, lab report due Wed Dec 7

Where do I turn in lab reports? Please upload your lab report as a PDF document to blackboard.
Lab rules In prior years, all labs were mandatory. However in the past few years we have found that it is a good idea to maintain some degree of flexibility.
You must take data for 4 out of 5 labs and turn in 4 of 5 lab reports to obtain a grade for this class.
Lab data taking can be done on the dates listed for the lab. If you are not present during the primary lab time you must let your lab TA or TI know ahead of time.
If you turn in 5 lab reports, your lowest score will be dropped while computing the final grade.
You must obtain prior permission from your lab TA to turn in a lab report late.
Late labs (without prior permission to be late) will receive a score of 0. Even a score of 0 might be required to obtain a grade for this class.
You can obtain permission to temporarily switch lab sessions from the TA.
If you are short lab data or lab reports, you will receive an incomplete in this class.
Unfortunately there are sometimes a few students who do labs a year late to obtain a grade in this class.
Lab reports all count the same amount of credit.
We will strive to return graded lab reports by the Monday following their due date.
Office hours: Alice Quillen: After the lecture, on Thursdays 11am-noon. Location: Outside in the courtyard between Bausch & Lomb Hall and Hoyt Hall
Also Thursday afternoons in my office (1-3pm)!
So as to be sure that the instructor is available at other times, please propose some times via email. The professor tends to wake up early, so late at night is less convenient for the professor. TIs/TAs are sometimes night-owls (also try the evening SPS tutoring in the POA library).
The professor enjoys chating with students, so do not be shy!

Prerequisites: You should be familiar with calculus. This is a calculus based class. You need to know how to take derivatives of 1 variable and integrate functions of 1 variable. We expect you to be familiar with vectors.

Should I be taking PHY141? If you are interested in an analytical or and experimental approach to carrying out science and are contemplating making the commitment to a series of serious (and fun) science, math or/and engineering classes as an undergrad, then, yes! this class is right for you! Are we trying to weed out the bad students? No. This class consists mostly (but not entirely) of first-year students and with a variety of diverse cultural, science and math backgrounds. This presents a challenge for teaching this class. We want to challenge all students and yet not discourage students who may not have seen as much of the material previously as others. If you continue in science or engineering fields, the differences in your backgrounds will diminish. Your instructors love their work and will be striving to entice you (no matter what your current background) to join them in learning and working in the sciences. Every student is encouraged to continue studying and working in physics and astronomy and we encourage every student to join our department as a physics or physics and astronomy major. If you lack some piece of background, give us a chance to help you learn it so that you can enjoy and succeed in this class.
Course requirements
  • 10 out of 12 problem sets -- each one has a hand written or typed component and a webwork component
  • 4 of 5 Lab reports
You cannot obtain a grade for this class without doing at least 4 labs and turning in at least 4 complete lab reports.
There are no quizzes or exams or clickers. There is a webwork component to homeworks.
Final Grade A weighted average of
  • Problem sets 60-70%
  • Lab reports 30-40%
Attendance Workshops (recitations) are recommended but attendance is not taken during them. Attendance is taken during labs (you must take data on 4 of 5 labs to pass the class).
Exams This year there are no exams.
Previous incarnations of this class used common exam times and had 3 midterm exams, before class, at 8am. This may not have been popular. Exams are a traditional way to encourage students to practice problem solving and to review course material. However, in 2020, we decided not to have exams, in part because it is difficult to maintain integrity of on-line quizzes and exams. Rather than spending time trying to prevent cheating in this class, we decided to instead focus on teaching physics. Since exams were not necessary in 2020 or in 2021 we can reexamine whether we require them in 2022. The professor concluded that exams are not necessary for this particular class, though she concedes that studying for exams can be a valuable part of the undergraduate education experience. Because we are not having exams, problem sets are longer, in multiple formats and with multiple levels of complexity. A down-side of not having exams is that exams in your subsequent classes might be more challenging.
Textbook None required
R. Chabay and B. Sherwood, Matter & Interactions, Volume 1, Modern Mechanics, Fourth Edition (recommended)
Online resources University physics vol1
University physics vol2
University physics vol3
The Feynman Lectures
My lecture notes, problem sets and other helpful documents and links
Re-Grading Policy Graders do not necessarily grade perfectly. However, your grade is unlikely to be sensitive to small errors in grading. If you feel there is a mistake made in grading we will not regrade a single problem but could consider regrading full exams, full problem sets or full lab reports.
Late Homework If you have a conflict or problem with a Friday homework due date, please let the workshop TA know in advance. Late homework will not ordinarily be graded. However, the lowest 2 grades of all your turned in homeworks will be dropped when computing the final grade. Some homeworks have more problems than others, but each homework will count the same amount to your final grade.
Rules and Collaboration Policy: You can discuss your assignments with students or instructors. Problem set solutions, lab reports and essays must be written alone by each individual in their own words. Solutions to problem sets should not be copied from other students or any other source. Lab reports must not be copied from any source. Data should not be manufactured, misrepresented, omitted or doctored. You cannot use data from a different lab group. Cell phones are banned from exams.
Plagiarizing paragraphs (or portions of them) or figures of reports or homeworks is a violation of academic honesty policy and must be reported. See academic honesty policy at UR

It might be possible to learn how to efficiently cheat on your assignments in this class. I would recommend instead learning how to solve physics problems.
Credit Hour Policy This course follows the College credit hour policy for four-credit courses. This course meets twice weekly for 2.5 academic hours per week. The course also includes recitations and labs for 3.92 academic hours per week. The course also includes independent out-of-class assignments.