PHY 2049

First Day Preparation

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Updated 26 December 2013.

I am rarely asked what students should do to prepare for this class, although that is a question that should be asked. My answer is as follows:

  1. If you are new to my class, or got away with using a crappy calculator like the TI-30Xa last semester, read these comments on the calculators you are allowed to use. You will need to do complicated calculations involving scientific notation on the first exam. Get an appropriate calculator immediately so you can use it on all of the homework leading up to Exam 1. I will not allow the TI-83 in PHY2049, although you can use it in the lab. (On lab exams, you will have to wait for it to be cleared before you can start the test.) You should only use your physics calculator for physics homework!

  2. Except for the what is listed under items 3 and 4 below, you should already be ready for this class. That is, you should still know the basic equations of motion, how to use a free-body diagram to solve mechanics problems, how to apply conservation of energy, how to work with vectors (including both the dot and cross product), how to evaluate derivatives with the chain rule, the fundamental theorem of integral calculus, and how to set up basic application integrals. If not, you need to work on Learning because your engineering professors will assume that you did not waste your time and money taking calculus and physics. Some engineering classes will test you on that material during the first few weeks of your first semester classes. For reference, here is the link to a pdf file providing a one-page summary of key 2048 ideas for 2049 students. That said, many of you need to prepare for your calculus class so you don't fall behind in physics while trying to keep up in calculus.

  3. Unless you are the rare student who knows how to find the area and volume of a cylinder or sphere without having to look it up, put a major effort into learning all of the geometry material in the appendix to our textbook (pg. A-1). This is also important for MAC2313. While you are there, reviewing the summary of trig and complex numbers (and everything else in Appendix A) would be a good idea.

  4. Read my comments on the calculus requirements for my physics courses. They are minimal, but significantly higher than was the case in PHY2048. If you did not take the "early transcendental" MAC2311 at TCC, you will need to learn the derivatives and integrals related to the transcendental functions ex and ln(x), among others, for both physics and calculus. More importantly, I expect you to have a fairly deep conceptual understanding of integral calculus and the Fundamental Theorem, or develop it fairly quickly. I will also expect you to set up applications involving integrals in one variable, a topic that is normally introduced at the end of MAC2311 in some sections at TCC and then covered in great detail at the start of MAC2312 in every class. (It is done in detail at the end of MAC2311 at colleges that use the "late transcendental" curriculum). I will show, in detail, how to set up the integrand for application problems involving electric fields and electric potentials for those who are not taking MAC2312 or forgot all of it.

  5. Re-read Chapter 3 of Wolfson, which is mostly review of the basic properties of vectors. You can also review that same material, as well as "dot" and "cross" products, in Chapter 12 (sometimes 13) of your calculus book. You already sort-of learned that material in PHY2048, so I will not go over it again in much detail except in the process of working examples to help you become expert at it if you are not currently taking MAC2313. You will notice that three-dimensional problems appear in the first chapter we cover this semester (Chapter 20) and just about everywhere else, and this is also the case in MAC2313. One early problem, one I usually do on the first day of class, is similar to one we did in Chapter 8 (gravity) in PHY2048 so this should not be entirely new to you.

  6. If you will be taking MAC2312, prepare by studying as if you were going to take the MAC2311 final exam on the first day of classes. Some of you will not succeed in Calc II unless you know more of Calc I than you did when you took the final, so put particular emphasis on any topic you think you might have missed on the final exam. Partly for this reason, you should consider your course load very carefully, particularly if you got a C in MAC2311 and/or struggled to barely pass PHY2048. College-level math classes pick up where the previous one left off, and Calc II is (most students agree) somewhat harder than Calc I. My short list of things to know would include the deriviatives of every function that has a key on your calculator (including the inverse tangent and inverse sine functions), the chain rule, and about a half-dozen of the basic identities (pythagorean, double angle, half angle) from trigonometry. If your MAC2311 class had an "exit" or "gate" exam, you probably know the derivatives I am talking about.

  7. If you will be taking MAC2313, prepare by studying the material on vectors in 3-space in Chapter 12 (??) of Stewart's calculus book. That is the usual start point in that course, where they go into much greater depth than we do in either PHY2048 or PHY2049. You might also review the one-dimensional work integral from the applications section (Chapter 6?) in MAC2311, because that topic will be revisited (in 3-space) later in MAC2313 and used in PHY2049 at the conceptual level.

  8. Read my Study Suggestions and review the additional comments on program planning and your workload this semester that are at the end of this page.


Please read my advising notes on physics.

This comment is particularly applicable to new students, who should also review what is required for admission to the college they plan to enter after graduating from TCC. Be sure you are prepared to meet all of the requirements to start your major as a junior at the end of this semester or worked out a plan with an advisor at your future school so you will be ready by the end of next semester.

If you do not have a work schedule that includes 20+ hours set aside throughout the week to study for just your physics and calculus classes, you should reconsider taking both calculus and PHY2049 at the same time. Those of you who have passed Calc I and PHY2048 have a better idea how much work is ahead, but you need to realize that Calc II is harder than Calc I. On the other hand, Calc III is, in my opinion, a little bit easier than Calc II and fits in well with PHY2049.

Future engineering majors and science majors should pay careful attention to the requirements for their transfer school. A few examples: The University of Florida "tracks" PHY2049, so you must pass it with a C with at most two attempts, including withdrawals. Science majors (such as physics, chemistry, computer science, biochem) at Florida State can have no more than a total of 5 failing grades in math or science classes required for their major, including both those taken at a CC and those taken at FSU. I believe a similar rule applies to classes taken by Engineering majors AFTER they transfer, so be sure you know the risks if you are a transient student enrolling from FSU.

 ?? Contact me if you have any questions.


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