Course Overview: Physics 1c Practical explores the basics of electricity and magnetism and their practical applications. There are three section meetings per week (Mon., Wed., Thurs.). Adequate preparation on your part is essential to benefit from the classroom setting. Your job includes: reading the assigned sections of the text in advance of class, preparing questions of your own, and doing homework problems. Note that students who successfully improve their performance and enjoyment of Core physics often report that reading the textbook in advance, i.e., before the section in which the material was first discussed, was a key component of their study strategy.

Lectures are on Fridays at 3pm in 201 East Bridge and consist of demonstrations and their discussion. You will see examples of phenomena and illustrations of basic concepts. The emphasis is on the qualitative thinking needed to organize your approach to the problems you will encounter.

See the "Section info" link on the left for section times, locations, TAs and their office hours.

Lecturer: Jason Alicea, 123 Bridge, aliceaj at caltech dot edu; Office hours Friday 4-5pm following lecture. 

Head TA: Swati Chaudhary, schaudha at caltech dot edu

Course administrator: Meagan Heirwegh, 253 Sloan, heirwegm at caltech dot edu

Textbook/Handouts: The text for the course is Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 9th edition, by Serway and Jewett. The homework and readings are based on the 9th edition. The “international” edition of the textbook is a grey market item; some of the problems and problem numbering differ from the standard edition.

Most course handouts will be available online; see "Handouts" link on the left. In cases where paper is necessary, they will be distributed in section and will be available in E. Bridge, Room 110 and in the Bridge East-West hall.

Homework: Assigned problems and readings are specified by chapter and number in Serway and Jewett, 9th edition. Answers to odd numbered problems are in the back of the book. Be sure to write up your solutions showing all the work needed to get the answer. The homework and reading assignments from the textbook are available in the "Syllabus/schedule" link on the left.

In addition, the homework contains "QP" problems.  These are taken from recent years' quizzes and finals. These old quiz problems are available in the "Handouts" link.  As such, they may give you some idea of the nature and difficulty of questions that may appear this year. You should attempt them only after you have some confidence in the material, and you should initially work on them alone (at least 1/4 to 1/2 hour).

Because your TA may choose to devote class time to particularly interesting or difficult topics and to pursue students' questions and comments further, there might be some important topics not completely covered by all sections. Hence, the assigned sections of your textbooks are essential resources as the systematic outline and exposition of the course material. Use them.

Homework due date/late policy: Problem sets are due each Friday at 3pm in the mailbox for your section, just outside of the lecture hall (201 E. Bridge). They must be handed in on time to receive full credit. Up to one week late will receive half credit.  In case of illness or other valid excuse, you and your TA can negotiate a modified due date. The work must be your own and not copied from a group effort or a friend's write-up. 

Remarks on collaboration: You can seek help and discuss the problems with anyone -- to an extent you find productive. However, you should not consult anyone's written, completed work, and your write-up must be all yours. A good guideline is that you should understand the problems well enough to be able to reproduce on your own any solution that you hand in. In the past, some students have achieved high homework grades, yet fared poorly on tests and even failed the course. In such cases help is likely not used effectively.  Try to find your own best way, so that you end up really learning the material. Remember that the difference between half and full credit on a single homework problem amounts to roughly 0.2% of all possible points available towards your final total. Instead of viewing each homework problem as a way to accumulate credit, think of it as an opportunity to focus your attention on the challenges of mastering the course material. The problems designated "QP", if you work them on your own, can be particularly valuable as a way of anticipating the kinds of problems likely to appear on quizzes and the final exam.

Another good resource that you may wish to take advantage of are study sessions arranged by the dean's office.  They'll be held in Millikan from 8-11pm on Wednesdays.  Most section leaders' office hours fall on Thursdays.  

Exams: There will be four take-home quizzes and a final exam. These may cover material from the textbook, homework, or lecture demonstrations. Quizzes will generally be made available online on Fridays around noon, and will be due the following Tuesday at noon (exception: Quiz 2 will be due Thursday at noon).

Late quizzes will not be accepted for credit except by prior arrangement with your TA in extraordinary circumstances.


Written homework: 25%

Written quizzes: 45%

Final exam: 30%

Important note: Section TA's may choose to bump up a borderline grade based on class participation (as distinct from "attendance", which is a necessary but not sufficient condition for participation).  

Solutions to homeworks and exams will be posted online at the "Solutions" link on the left.  

Switching Sections and Time-Conflict Petitions: Switching sections will require the signature of the TA whose section you wish to join. Time-conflict petitions require your TA's signature if the conflict is with a section time and Alicea's signature if the conflict is with the Friday lecture.  The TAs, section times, etc. can be found in the "Section info" link on the left.

Note to transferees from Physics 1 analytic: Phys 1b Practical covered magnetic fields created by steady currents. This was not covered in Phys 1b analytic.  Hence, if you are transferring in to the practical track for the spring term, you will want to read and digest the material in chapter 29 and sections 1-5 of chapter 30 of Serway and Jewett.

Feedback, Questions, and Comments: There will be an ombudsman in each house who has volunteered to give feedback to the teaching staff. An ombudsmeeting is scheduled for Wednesday May 4; please be sure to pass on your comments in a timely way. Of course, we would be happy to hear from you personally before or after lecture or class, during office hours, via e-mail, etc.