Physics 104 - How Things Work - Spring, 2003

Prof. Ted Einstein (Homepage)

Physics Building, Room 2307 (Mailbox in 2323); x56147

The exams are now marked. Stop by to look at yours (but I have to keep it for a year) and to pick up your term paper. Have a great summer, and look for rainbows near sprinklers.

Final exam: average: 171, high: 223.5, low: 97

Course grade distribution: 3 A+, 3 A, 5 A-, 8 B+, 13 B, 6 B-, 3 C+, 3 C, 2 C-, 1 D, 2 F

***Link to lists (in pdf [preferred] or html format) to help in studying for final.***

The final exam is scheduled on Tuesday, May 20, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Half will be like a midterm covering the material since the second midterm. The other half will cover the whole course. You will be allowed to use a "crib" sheet that you have prepared by yourself. You may use one side of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper and write anything on it that you like (formulas, definitions, sketches...).


Last updated May 23, 2003

Links to General Course Information
Tentative Schedule
Applets, URLs
Course Policies
Bloomfield slides (pdf)

Links to Term Paper Information
Grading Rubric: 
Evaluation Criteria
Individual Paper
Group Paper
Suggested Topics
Topics to Avoid

Solutions to exams and homework assignments are posted--unlinked
Solutions to homework assignments
 Solutions to first hour test
 Solutions to second hour test

    Physics 104 is a relatively new course being taught only for the past several years at the University of Maryland. It is based on a similar course that was developed and taught at the University of Virginia by Prof. Louis Bloomfield, whose book we are using. Much of the material in this course description was taken (with permission) from the UVA course. There are some differences between our course and theirs. Since our class is much smaller, we can do things in a more personal manner.

Course Description
    The class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:00-2:50 pm in the room 1201 of the Physics Building.  This class room allows us access to one of the best  lecture demonstration facilities in the world; we will make liberal use of it throughout the semester.  The class size is small (maximum 50), which allows a better view of the demonstrations and promotes discussion.
    The purpose of this course is to show you the scientific basis the world around you.  In particular we will focus on "how things work."  I have picked a list of topics that, hopefully, you will find interesting.  Of course there are far too many topics that could be covered than we have time for.  Therefore, during the first few meetings I will solicit suggestions for the specific topics we will cover this semester.  Also, there will be many opportunities to ask about things that we don't cover in class. This course should be fun!
   To allow time for demonstrations and discussion in class, students should preview material to be discussed that day by skimming the appropriate sections in the text, looking at the new terms, and thinking about what new concepts are most puzzling. Students are strongly encouraged to form study/discussion groups. In science courses (much like in foreign language courses), it takes time to master new concepts and ways of thinking. Also, much of the material makes use of earlier results. Thus, students should keep current on the work. Don't get behind!

    The course grade will be determined by the following:
Homework 14%

First Mid Term Exam


Second Mid Term Exam


Term Paper 20%
Final Exam 30%

    Homework will be assigned regularly throughout the semester. It will be collected and graded. Homework is actually worth much more than the official 14% of the grade, as it will help you clarify your understanding of the material, point out your areas of weakness, and help you prepare for the exams. It is very unlikely that a student will do well in the course without carefully doing the homework. There are many, many more interesting and worthwhile problems than can be assigned as homework. Students are strongly encouraged to do as many as possible to ingrain the material and to check their understanding.

Term Paper
    Each student will be required to do a term paper.  Details about the paper are given below.  The rules for the paper are:

1.    The report on the project paper is due in class on Monday, April 28. I will deduct one grade step (A becomes A-) for each day the term paper is late (including Saturday and Sunday). After the seventh day (Monday, May 5), term papers are no longer acceptable under any circumstances.

2.    Term papers must be written in your own words. Copying material essentially word-for-word from another source without crediting it as a quotation is plagiarism and will not be tolerated. Extensive quotations make for a very poor paper. "Shoveling in" text from web sites with no mental processing also leads to poor papers.

3.    You may not work together with anyone on an individual term paper. If you are writing a group term paper, you may work together only with the 1 or 2 other members of your group.

4.    Term papers may not be written on objects that are part of the course syllabus. A list of such forbidden topics is part of this packet.

5.    I will not assist in topic selection for the term papers after Monday, April 14.