UNC-CH P&A Classes Physics and Astronomy

Physics 301 (Classical Mechanics)

Text: Classical Mechanics (JR Taylor) -- -- -- note there are errata at the textbook website,
Supplementary: Marion, Morin, Spiegel, Wells, Symon, Boas (reserved in Undergraduate Library)
Mathematical formulae: Dwight (QA310.D5), Prudnikov (QA308.P7813) (reference shelf in Science Library Annex) 

Office hours: (Most) Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-11 (but stop by or email for an appt, if you need it)

Before we start, here is a sure strategy to get the best grade possible -- it never fails:

  1. Read the book before class.
  2. Do all the problems from the textbook. If you don't understand the concepts, doing problems will help to clarify them.
  3. Do problems from other books, too. Morin's book and Schaum's Outlines are particularly helpful resources.
  4. Once you understand the important concepts, think about the mathematical representations and manipulations.
  5. Link all of the concepts and mathematical structure from the chapter together to see the big picture.

All exams: (3-4 problems) open notes (only your own hand-written notes -- no photocopies)
Grades: approximately 20% hw problems and 80% exams
Expected mathematical skills:
(1) second order ordinary differential equations
(2) integral and differential calculus on several variables
(3) Fourier expansions
(4) matrix eigenvalues and eigenvectors
(All will be introduced as needed with no background or reinforcement.)

There will be no credit for late homework -- if the clock says 12:01, it's late.

week of chapter topics, main themes covered in lectures problems due Friday at noon
Jan 8 2 - 4 Review of Conservation Laws and Newtonian methods (2.14, 3.20, 4.9)
Jan 13 5 Linear oscillators, driven damped systems, phase space 4.8, 4.23, 36
Jan 20 12 Fourier series, nonlinearity, real pendula, chaos, fractals 5.13, 18, 45
Jan 27 7.1 - 7.5
Hamilton's Principle, Lagrangian dynamics, Energy equation 12.23, 25, 34
Feb 3 7.6 - 7.10, (13) Feynman (YHWH ?), connections to quantum mechanics homework Lag 1
Feb 5 2-5, 12 Test 1
Feb 10 8.1 - 8.5 Central Forces, Reduced mass homework Lag 2
Feb 17 8.6 - 9.5 Kepler's laws, Rotating reference frames homework Orbits
Feb 24 9.6 - 10 Fictitious forces, Foucault's pendulum homework Noninertial
Mar 3 10.1 - 4 Rigid Rotations, Inertia tensor, Principal moments homework Rot 1 Due March 16 by noon 
Mar 5 7 - 9 Test 2
Mar 10 ---------- Spring Break (go find cherry blossoms)
Mar 17 10.5 - 10 Euler's equations, Free rotation of a symmetrical top homework Rot 2
Mar 24 11.1 - 4 Coupled oscillators, Normal modes homework modes 1
Mar 31 11.5 - 7 Normal coördinates, Weighted strings homework modes 2
Apr 7
16.1 - 3 Continuous systems, Waves on strings this week's problems,
Apr 14 16.4 Classical field theory and Heisenberg's principle more wave problems
Apr 21
-- Review, Continuous systems, etc
Apr 28 Final Exam, 12pm

Here are a couple of math tutorials:
Tutorials on several topics, MatLab intensive lecture notes

Other "books" from the web that you might find useful:
Kupferman's lecture notes,
Arovas's lecture notes,

Here are a bunch of little games for you to play with:
various mechanical systems, Cute Fourier synthesizer, interactive fourier transformer , PhET java applet to demonstrate wave packets toy,  cute wave tutorials,
Fourier Transform  of waves and noise
(used in class). Check around under "More applets" for other relevant simulations.

Articles about fractals and randomness in the world:
"Random Fractals: Self -affinity in noise, music, mountains and clouds,"  Physica D38 (1989) 362-371 (whole volume on fractal stuff)
"Random fractal Forgeries" in Science and Uncertainty, ed Sara Nash (Science Reviews Ltd, 1985).

Books about fractals in nature:
Fractals, chaos, power laws : minutes from an infinite paradise / Manfred Schroeder.

There is a (stolen) simulator for a driven pendulum for anyone who wants to play with it. It's flexible, but slow.
and a "textbook" on chaos

For those who can be discrete, here are the pages from Baierlein's book on the relationship between the Lagrangian and quantum mechanics.

A parable about solving physics problems: It is a creative activity at its best, not a rote process of following instructions

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