PHYS 113: Contemporary Physics I

Welcome to Contemporary Physics I. This is a fairly unusual introductory Physics class. We will cover everything from relativity to classical mechanics to the Standard Model of Particle physics (although not in that order). We'll do programming, pen-and-paper problems, and lots of thought experiments. Please ask lots of questions, and by all means get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns.
[Course Information] [Announcements] [Material and Links]

Course Information

A complete discussion of course policies can be found in the
course syllabus (Version: 9/15/15).

Prof. Dave Goldberg (
Office: Disque Hall Room 810
Phone: x2715
Office Hours: M (1-2), T (2-3), Fr (10-11)
or by appointment in advance

Teaching Assistant:
Kelley Commeford (
Office: Disque Hall Room 902
Office Hours (Held in Disque 704): M (2-3), Th (3-4)

Joseph Fabritius (

MWF 12-1
Disque 919
W2-4 (Sec. 1), W4-6 (Sec. 2).
Disque 704.

Matter and Interaction by Chabay and Sherwood, 4th Edition. [Amazon Link] (The book is also available in 2 separate volumes)
We will only be using the first volume this term, but I strongly recommend getting both at once or the single volume version, and doing so as cheaply as possible. Both volumes will be needed for the 3 term sequence.

Additional Help
Besides the course staff, this year we'll have several Physics Fellows:

They can be scheduled for private tutoring in calculus, physics, or with general computing issues. This service is at no charge to you.

Their availability will be listed in the calendar below. You may request half-hour timeslots with them. Please email them at least 24 hours in advance if you would like an appointment and include your name and what topic you would like to discuss. If a particular topic is in high demand, they may organize a small group session for it. Note that they will be as accommodating as possible, but they may not be able to work with every individual in a given week. You will receive an email confirmation when your appointment has been scheduled.


  • The Midterm exam will be on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, during regular class time. Except for the equation sheet, below, the exam will be entirely closed book. You are expected to bring a calculator. To help prepare, please take a look at the following: In the meanwhile, the following old exams should help you to prepare (please be aware that we cover slightly different material every year): And if you have any questions as you prepare, be sure to come by office hours, make an appointment, or email me or Kelley.
  • [Relativity Notes]
  • 10/28/2015: [2015 Midterm Solution]

Materials and Links


Homework Assignments

You will typically have 3-4 classes (1-1 1/2 weeks) to complete homeworks, and the due date will be made very clear. A 10% penalty will be given for each day of lateness. The lowest homework will be dropped from your final average.

Recitation Assignments

Recitations will be distributed during recitation sections and will be due via email to Kelley. The first 30 minutes to an hour of recitation sections will be devoted to homework and concept discussion. You are not to work on your recitation assignments during the theoretical discussion.