PHYSICS 303K - Rory Coker
Prof. Rory Coker
Office: RLM 8.312
Phone: (512) 471-5194
Fax: (512) 471-9637
Email: rory coker's gmail, coker's physics department mail

Office Hours: 9 to 10:30 AM, M, W, Thur; also, 2 to 2:30 PM Friday immediately after class in the hall outside Pai 2.48. [C1] [C2] [S] [A] [OK] [F] [T] [KC] [Q4]

The Fall 2011 unique numbers are 56505, 56510, 56515 and 56520; the class meets from 2 to 3 PM MWF  in Pai 2.48. Attendance is REQUIRED in class and in the TA sessions, and the roll will be checked each day using iClickers. The TA is Martin Abel. The unique number of 303K you registered for tells you which TA session you must attend: 56505, M, 4 to 5 PM, RLM 7.124; 56510, M, 5 to 6 PM, RLM 5.116; 56515, M, 7 to 8 PM, RLM 5.118; 56520. [Both iClicker and iClicker2 should work OK in Pai 2.48; the TA will probably check attendance with a paper signup sheet.]

Text: PHYSICS FOR ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS, Vol. 1, 3rd ed, by Ohanian and Markert (2007)

Syllabus for Fall 2011. Basis of course letter grade: Final exam, 25%; homework, 20%; best 3 of 4 exams, 15% each; class and TA session attendance, 5% each. The lowest homework grade is dropped, and 2 zero clicker grades are dropped. Class attendance and problem session attendance are NOT OPTIONAL; they are required, and contribute a sizeable percentage of the overall course grade.
As of 9:30 AM, 12/8/2011, overall course letter grades have been uploaded to the registrar, and can also be viewed on Quest. The GPA for the class was 2.52. 10 students made A or A-, 20 students made B+, B or B-, 11 students made C+, C or C-, and 9 students made D+, D, D- or F. The overall average was 73, as it almost always is for Quest-using physics courses, but I "bent the curve" so that the dividing line between B and C was at 71.5 rather than 73.

The homework for this course is handled by the Quest on-line  homework service. Homework assignments are turned in by you on-line from your web-browser, logging-in with your UT-EID from An FAQ page is available here. Complete homework and quiz solutions are available on Quest within 15 minutes or half an hour after the deadline. As of Fall 2011, Quest will require a $22 charge per student for its use, which goes toward the maintenance and operation of the resource. After the 12th day of class, when you log into Quest you will be asked to pay via credit card on a secure payment site. You have the option to wait up to 30 days to pay while still continuing to use Quest for your assignments. If you are taking more than one course using Quest, you will not be charged more than $50/semester. For payment questions, email Quest Fees.

  • HW 1, due Sept. 3, 4 AM. Class average 83%, with 65 students participating.
  • HW 2, due Sept. 10, 4 AM. Class average 87%, with 64 students participating.
  • HW 3, due Sept. 14, 4 AM. Class average 79%, with 63 students participating.
  • HW 4, due Sept. 21, 4 AM. Class average 85% with 61 students participating.
  • HW 5, due Sept. 28, 4 AM. Class average 77%, with 58 students participating.
  • HW 6, due Oct. 4, 4 AM. Class average 78%, with 58 students participating.
  • HW 7, due Oct. 8, 4 AM. Class average 78%, with 51 students participating.
  • HW 8, due Oct. 15, 4 AM. Class average 73%, with 51 students participating.
  • HW 9, due Oct. 21, 4 AM. Class average 82%, with 50 students participating.
  • HW 10, due Oct. 27, 4 AM. Class average 86%, with 51 students participating.
  • HW 11, due Nov. 2, 4 AM. Class average 91%, with 48 students participating.
  • HW 12, due Nov. 8, 4 AM. Class average 82%, with 47 students participating.
  • HW 13, due Nov. 12, 4 AM. Class average 78%, with 42 students participating.
  • HW 14, due Nov. 17, 4 AM. Class average 85%, with 47 students participating.
  • HW 15, due Nov. 22, 4 AM. Class average 86%, with 46 students participating.
  • HW 16, due Nov. 26, 4 AM. Class average 88%, with 39 students participating.
  • HW 17, due Nov. 29, 4 AM. Class average 87%, with 45 students participating.
  • The overall HW average for the class is 83%. Homework averages tended to rise steadily as struggling students dropped the class.

    Attendance and effort: According to the registrar, 53 students are currently registered for 303K, 66 took Quiz 1, and 60 took Quiz 2, while 52 took Quiz 3, but only about 40 are turning in homework and only 44 are coming to class. In the entire 400-year history of physics, it is not recorded that any student passed a physics course without doing the homework and coming to class. A typical curve for the overall end-of-semester grades in a typical 303K physics class is (showing the lower cutoff for each letter grade): A 91; A- 86; B+ 80; B 78; B- 74; C+ 72; C 67; C- 62; any lower average, D or F. The overall average grade for this particular course was 73%; that included attendance in class and TA sessions, quizzes, homework, etc.

    Mid-semester quizzes are given in the evenings, not during scheduled class times: Wed-Sep 14, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM JGB 2.324; Wed-Oct 12, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BUR 106; Wed-Nov 09, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BUR 106; Wed-Nov 30, 2011 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BEL 328. See the course syllabus for further details. Examination papers are generated by the Quest system, and answers are made using "bubble-sheets" during the exam period. The final exam is to be held in RLM 4.102 from 2 to 5 PM, December 7.

    Quiz 1 Statistics: Average 76, lowest grade 40, highest grade(s) 100. 66 students took the quiz and 4 made 100, while more than 20 (30% of the class) made 90 or above. This was by far the easiest of all the quizzes, so if you did not make at least 75, that is a dire prediction of future performance. Quiz 2, coming up and dealing with Chs. 5, 6, 7 and 8, will be of necessity harder than Quiz 1.

    Quiz 2 Statistics: Average grade 63%, highest grade 100% (4 students made 100), lowest grade 15%. 11 students made grades of 80 to 90%, and 60 students took the test. Quiz 3, covering the most difficult material in the course, will of necessity be harder than Quiz 2; now might be a good time to take stock of your situation in the class.

    Average grade 57%, lowest grade 28%, highest grade 95%. About 10 students made grades of 80% or above. Note that Quiz 4 will cover the material on Chapters 14 through 18, while the final will re-cover Chapters 2 through 13. Thus you will be tested again on all the material of Quizzes 1 through 3, but will not see the material from Quiz 4 on the final. Most students consider the material on Chs. 15 through 18 to be the easiest in the course, so plan to make and study to make 100% on Quiz 4, and then review the basics so that you can make a similar high grade on the final!!

    Quiz 4 statistics: Average grade 65%, lowest grade 23%, highest grade 86%. 48 students took the quiz, and only 6 students made grades of 80 or above. This material does NOT reappear on the final.

    Average grade 65%, highest grade 95%, lowest grade 26%. Course grades will be uploaded to the registrar by the evening of 12/8/2011.

    What is weight?


    Here is a way to get extra credit!

    Here is the Golden Rule of physics problem-solving. Ignore it at your extreme peril.

    Important: the Laboratory Course 103M is a REQUIRED CO-REQUISITE for 303K. It is your responsibility to register for and take the lab, simultaneously with 303K, unless you have already taken and passed it in a prevous semester. All lab sessions start the week of August 29.

    COACHES AND TUTORS: Coaches are present at tables by the elevators on the 5th level of RLM, at various times between 9 AM and 5 PM weekdays. Coaches are there to give you hints on homework problems, and mini-lectures on key concepts in physics. You can obtain a physics graduate student tutor by contacting the undergraduate secretary, whose office is around the corner from the coaching tables on the 5th level. If you are experiencing any difficulties in doing the homework you probably need a tutor, and you would need to work with him or her beginning as early as possible in the semester. 

    CLASS SLIDES: Motion, Kinematics, Free Fall, Vectors 1, Vectors 2, Unit Vectors, Projectiles, Projectile Relativity, Estimating Acceleration, Centripetal Acceleration, Radial and Tangential, Relative velocity, All Three Laws, The Dark! Friction, Roller Coaster, Conical Pendulum, Work, Energy's Fathers, Kinetic Energy, PE and E, Conservative forces, Drawing the PE, CE and Mass, Deuteron, Then and Now, Satellites, Orbits, Gravitational Potential Energy, Center of Mass, Geometrical Center, Stability, Equilibrium, Total Momentum, CM and Orbits, Impulse! Elastic and Inelastic Collisions, Where is it? Angular Velocity, Rotational Inertia, Rotational KE, Torque, Rolling, Rotational Inertia Race, Angular Momentum, Torque and Angular Momentum, Precession, Stable and Unstable Rotations, Statics, Atomic forces, Young's, shear and bulk moduli, SHO, Waves, Reflection, Superposition, Standing waves on rope, Group velocity, Wave Applets, Fathers of the Wave, Sound, Spherical waves, Standing waves in pipes, Doppler effect, Sound level, Diffraction, Chladni Plates, Pressure, Pascal Principle, Buoyancy, Bernoulli Principle, Fathers of fluid physics.

    When physics lecture demonstrations go wild.

    How to open a corked bottle of wine with just your shoe and a wall.

    PHYSICS JAVA APPLETS are computer programs running animated diagrams. The animation will show you how various quantities are related in various important examples in basic physics. The programs will often do specific numerical calculations for specific cases, if you input the specific numbers. In some cases the applet runs in a popup window, so that if you have your browser set to disable pop-ups, the applet may not appear.  Here are some general collections of [sometimes very good] applets:
    Flashlets, a collection of physics-related Java Applets.
    Fowler's Applet Collection
    Very poor graphics make many of these NTNU applets useless.
    Another collection of a variety of applets (Stout)
    Another large collection of physics applets (edinfo).
    Another collection of physics applets (uoregon)
    Yet another Asian collection of elementary physics applets.
    An on-line collection of applets from various sources.
    A small collection of physics applets (Syracuse)

    Single-concept video tutorials on basic physics.

    SOME SPECIFIC APPLETS--- classical mechanics---

    Derivatives, 1
    Derivatives, 2
    Tutorial on circular motion.
    Fundamental Forces of Nature.
    Newton's Cannon.
    Elliptical Orbits and Kepler's Rules
    Collision in 2 dimensions
    Rotational Inertia (table only).
    Vector (Cross) Product
    Simple Harmonic Oscillator (graphic only)
    Damped Oscillator
    L and T waves
    Transverse wave
    Superposition and “interference”
    Superposition and “beats”
    Wave reflections
    Standing wave on rope
    Standing wave harmonics
    Group Velocity
    Sound beats
    Standing wave in pipe
    Doppler effect and shock waves, 1
    Doppler effect and shock waves, 2
    Water wave diffraction
    Pascal's Principle
    Bernoulli principle applet
    Buoyant force
    absolute (Kelvin) temperature
    Ideal Gas, atoms
    Ideal Gas, atoms 2
    Ideal Gas, graphic
    Ideal Gas, p, V and T

    Physicist Robert Park's weekly report on non-science, anti-science and pseudoscience in the week's events.

    Maybe Someday!?!?!

    Play with evolution! This applet starts with a random string of gibberish and makes random changes until the Shakespearean sentence, "Methinks it is like a weasel," evolves. It may surprise you to see how very few "generations" are required! Weasel Applet

    A complete 2011 calendar in one-page pdf form.

    Check out the Optical Illusion of the Week here!

    Check out the nifty science feature of the week here.

    In fall 2011 watch for the Pizza Seminar!

    Information on Physics 341, Pseudoscience!

    Coker's Homepage

    Most recent update Sept. 2, 2011!


    James Joule

    James Clerk Maxwell

    Lord Kelvin

    There will be times when your situation seems desperate and completely hopeless. But there is always hope, unless you suddenly hear Fatso Schmidt, the Keyboard Cat, playing you off! Click on Fatso's image to see what “no hope” really means!!