Physics for future Presidents

Study Aids and Handouts



Many of your homework assignments will be essays. Here's a useful Word template that you can use.

Study Aids

It is a good idea to check here regularly for information and supplemental material designed to help you with your studies. Additional material will be added throughout the semester.

  1. CMU Student Guide to Clickers
    This course uses a student feedback system known as "clickers". This handout provides information on using and registering your clicker.
  2. The Units Survival Guide
    The textbook is full of situations which require conversion from one type of unit to another. This can be confusing even if you have a table of conversion factors. For example, if you have to convert from kilometers to miles, how do you remember if you should multiply or divide by this factor? What do you do if you know a speed in miles per hour, but you need it in meters per second? This handout will give you some tricks that will help.
  3. How to deal efficiently with very large and very small numbers
    Short discussion on dealing with large numbers, powers of ten, and scientific notation.
  4. Student Objectives Listed by Chapter
    This file contains our learning objectives for each chapter. It will be updated as we work our way through the semester's topics.
  5. Chapter Summaries
    This file contains summaries of the major points we've disussed listed chapter by chapter. It will be updated as we work our way through the textbook.
  6. Essay Writing Hints
    This file describes the general guidelines we will use when grading essays.
  7. To give you an idea what we consider a good essay, here are some examples for you to study:
    1. a sample essay on the hydrogen economy.
    2. a sample essay on energy in the news.
    3. a sample essay on the press release.
  8. The special lecture "How do we know" dealt with some aspects of philosophy of science and epistemology. The lecture was based on the book "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch (Chapter 1, to be precise). Here's a link to a TED talk by David Deutsch, in which he goes through some of the same material.
  9. Below you can find Prof. Franklin'stransparencies of Chapters 4 and 5:
    1. Radiation, Lecture 1.
    2. Radiation, Lecture 2.
    3. Chain Reactions and Nuclear Fission.
    4. Fission Bombs and Reactors.
    5. Fusion Bombs and Concerns about Nuclear Reactors.
  10. To help you understand what you should expect in our exams, you can have a look at the first midterm exam and the second midterm exam from a few years back. This year's exams will of course not be identical, but very similar in style.
  11. To help you prepare for the final exam, you can have a look at a previous final exam here. Of course, our's will not be the same, but very similar in style. Since this year we did not go through the relativity chapter, there might be a few questions on the exam about which you don't know the answer, and clearly questions from that chapter wouldn't be asked tis time.
  12. Here's a short note on how light is diffracted by a diffraction grating. You do not need to deeply understand or even reproduce how this formula comes about. (Well, try to see whether it makes sense to you.) But you will need the formula in recitation when measuring the wavelength of laser light.
  13. Dr. Steven Koonin, then U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science, delivered at talk at Carnegie Mellon in May, 2011 titled, "America's Energy Challenge." The talk covered topics closely related to our course. You might find it interesting to review his presentation or watch a video of his talk.
    Dr. Koonin's Power Point Slides
    Video of Dr. Koonin's talk
  14. This years Nobel prize in Physics has been jointly awarded to François Engler and Peter W. Higgs, "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider". A very nice overview for why this is exciting and what the "Higgs boson" is in the first place can be found in a video on the site "PhD comics". Note that this video has been made shortly before the Higgs particle was "officially found" on July 4th, 2012 (meaning, the statistics of the data was by then good enough to declare the discovery of a particle).
  15. Remember how we shot smoke rings in class? Here's a youtube video showing mount Etna (Sicily) doing the same!