Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between PHYS 401/402 and PHYS 407/408?

A: Essentially the same topics are covered in both courses, it is the mathematics requirements that are different. PHYS 407/408 requires that students have taken or are taking calculus. This course is aimed primarily at students in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, but students with a calculus background from any college are welcome. PHYS 401/402 requires a mathematics background in algebra and trigonometry only; this course is typically for students not in CEPS.

 

Q: How can I learn more about the introductory courses?

A: Visit our introductory course descriptions page for course descriptions, links to the current course pages, and for examples of syllabi from previous years and professor notes where available.

 

Q: I already have a good background in physics, do I really have to take PHYS 407?

A: We do offer a way to test out of PHYS 407, 408: if you take and do better than the average student on our standardized test, you can be excused from the PHYS 407, 408 requirement. However, you do not get the 4 credits for the course; you must replace that course with another. For more information, see Katie Makem at the Physics Office, Demeritt 105.

 

Q: When and where can I add/drop/switch sections for PHYS 400 level courses?

A: We cannot add/drop/switch sections until we have the information from the registrar. This happens typically on the second day of classes. You can call us at 862-1950 before you come over to be sure that we can do this.

Come to the Physics Office at Demeritt 105 to add/drop/switch.

 

Q: Do I have to retake the lab if I passed the lab but failed the course?

A: No, if you passed the lab in PHYS 401, 402,407 or 408, and your lab grade was acceptably high, but did not pass the course, you may petition out of the lab. To do this, come to the Physics Office (Demeritt Hall 105, 862-2063) and fill out a lab petition (you will need to tell us which course you took and in which semester). Once you fill out the petition, we will look up your old lab grade. Be sure to check back about a week after filling out the petition to be sure that we could find your old records, and that your lab grades was sufficiently high (typically over 70.)

 

Q: I'm not doing so well in my course, what can I do?

A: There are several ways of getting help:

  • Visit your professor or TA during their office hours; if you can't make office hours, try to schedule a meeting at a more convenient time. Office hours are sometimes intimidating, but they are part of the service that we are happy to provide to students.
  • Work in a group with your fellow students, either students in your class or your dorm. Even if you are all struggling, you can often do more in a group than you can do on your own.
  • Get tutoring help from one of the student groups on campus. Call the CEPS Dean's office (862-1781) to find out when tutoring is available.
  • Get tutoring help from the Society of Physics Students. They will announce tutoring on the bulletin board in Demeritt right next to the steps leading down to the front door.
  • Contact the Center For Academic Resources to see what services you are eligible for.

 

 

Q: What Math Preparation is Necessary for PHYS 407-408?

A:

  • You need to have taken Calc I (MATH 425) or be registered for it the semester that you take PHYS 407.
  • You need to have taken Calc II (MATH 426) or be registered for it the semester that you take PHYS 408.
  • Algebra: Solve one equation for one unknown.
  • Algebra: Solve two simultaneous equations with two unknowns.
  • Trigonometry: Be able to sketch the graph of cosine(x).
  • Trigonometry: Be able to find the length of the side of a right triangle given the length of the other two sides.
  • Trigonometry: Be able to find the length of the side of a right triangle given the length of one other side and one angle.
  • Precalc: if f(x)=(x+1)*(x-1), be able to write f(x+3).

 

 

 

Q: What Math Preparation is Necessary for PHYS 401-402?

A:

  • Algebra: Solve one equation for one unknown.
  • Algebra: Solve two simultaneous equations with two unknowns.
  • Trigonometry: Be able to sketch the graph of cosine(x).
  • Trigonometry: Be able to find the length of the side of a right triangle given the length of the other two sides.
  • Trigonometry: Be able to find the length of the side of a right triangle given the length of one other side and one angle.

 

 

 

Q: What Math Preparation is Necessary for PHYS 406 - Astronomy?

A:

  • Solve one equation for one unknown
  • Understand how to use scientific notation (powers of ten) on your calculator
  • Understand how to estimate a numerical result to determine whether your calculator is giving you sense or nonsense

 

 

 

Come to the Physics Office at Demeritt 105 to add/drop/switch.