PHYS 107

Physics of Light, Perception, Photography and Visual Phenomena Laboratory

Spring 2010


INSTRUCTOR:          Professor Dieter Brill

                                    Rm 4202, Physics building



                                    Office Hours: TBA or by appointment

TA:                              TBA

TEXTBOOK:              Physics 107 Laboratory Manual, Fall 2009 edition

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  PHYS 107 is a 1 credit laboratory course to accompany PHYS106. Laboratory experiments include geometrical optics (lenses, cameras, and eyes), optical instruments, photography, perception, color phenomena, and wave phenomena. PHYS106 and PHYS107 must be taken concurrently in order to meet the CORE Physical Science Laboratory requirement.

COURSE POLICIES: You are required to do all of the assigned experiments and complete a lab report for each. If you are not able to attend a scheduled lab section, make an arrangement in advance by writing to the instructor to get permission to attend another lab session in the same week. If the lab cannot be made up in the same week, you may get permission to complete that lab during the make-up week shown below. The first make-up period will cover Experiments 1 through 6, and the second will cover the rest of the labs. Not more than one experiment per student is allowed for the make-up labs.



Physics 107 Labs, Spring 2009

Mon, Tue, Wed


Week of

Expt #

Experiment Title


Jan 25


(1st day of classes) Instr. meets students in lab.


Feb 1


Camera Obscura


Feb 8


Pinhole Camera


Feb 15


Light Reflection, Mirrors and Images


Feb 22


Light Refraction


Mar 1


Images, Shaped Surfaces, Simple Lenses


Mar 8


More Simple Lenses


Mar 15


Spring Break


Mar 22


Make Up Labs


Mar 29


The Camera


Apr 5


Polarized Light and Birefringence


Apr 12


Light Interference


Apr 19


Light Diffraction


Apr 26


Diffraction Gratings, Color and Holography


May 3


Make-Up Labs

Lab managers:   Mr. Giza, Thomas E.

                                    Rm 3308, Physics Building



Mr. Bill Norwood      

Rm 3304, Physics Building



Lab Report: Lab reports should be completed in the lab and submitted at the end of the lab period for grading.  They will be returned to the student during the next lab meeting. Late reports will not be accepted after the day of the experiment. The report should consist of the following:

  1. Preparatory Information including course & section numbers, title of the experiment, date of the experiment, your name and partner's if applicable.
  2. Main body of the report consisting of answers to the "Topic" questions in the lab manual, along with descriptions of your observations that support these answers.
  3. A brief summary including the goal of the experiment, findings and conclusions

PRE-LAB & QUIZ: Reading the lab manual before each lab is required. Answers to pre-lab questions must be submitted at the beginning of the lab meeting before the experiment starts. The pre-lab questions are found at the beginning of each experiment in the lab manual. A brief quiz based on the material of the previous lab can be given in class or on-line using Blackboard ( You cannot make-up a quiz or answers to a pre-lab set of questions.

GRADE: Each "Topic" in an experiment and the summary get 3 points each. Each pre-lab or Quiz question will be worth 3 points.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

Disabilities: Students with documented disability should contact Professor Brill at the beginning of the semester to discuss accommodations.


Tips for the Lab Report

Science research involves writing a proposal, carrying out experiments, and publishing research papers.   In a research proposal you propose an experiment to meet the science goal you want to achieve.  You need to justify how the experiment will help understanding of the science you set for your research objective.  While conducting experiments, scientists keep records of what they do, analogous to what you will practice with your lab notebook.  Specifically, the lab notebook is to keep a record of what you did in the lab and to remind yourself of your findings.  To communicate research findings, the results are published in science journals.  No matter how great your discoveries, if they are not published no one else would know of your discoveries and the world will not be able to utilize them.   Writing a lab report is similar to writing a journal paper for a publication.  You should write down your findings in an effective and convincing manner to your peers.  Tabulating the data and plotting graphs are the most effective way of presenting data. In addition to writing down your experimental settings, you must perform error analysis to convince people of the reproducibility and validity of the data. 

Instructions:  Read the instructions carefully before you start, again when you are doing the experiment and before you finish to avoid leaving out significant sections.

Handwriting: Write legibly, otherwise the TA won't be able to grade the report.  Typing with a word processor using a computer is desired. 

Measurements: Make sure to use the right scale. 

Tables: Re-tabulate the data properly in ascending or descending order. Do not hand in a copy of your lab notebook unless it is very neat.  When you use computer software, such as Excel printouts, make sure the cells are formatted to reflect the precision of the instrument.  For example, 3.000 must not show up as 3.

Experimental settings: Write down the experimental settings next to your readings.

Graphs: Make sure to put in axis titles and error bars.

Error Analysis and Numerical Calculations:

Quantities: Define quantities (such as A, B etc.) before you use them. 

Systematic presentations:  First manipulate the expressions algebraically.  Then, write down the corresponding numerical values of the quantities in the equation.  Do not substitute numbers into the equations directly.  Finally calculate the answer, write it down and underline it. 

Discussion: Think about the experiment, look at the orders of magnitude, and ask yourself how you might improve the results.  Put all thoughts/understanding on the paper.


Disclaimer: The instructor reserves right to make minor changes to this syllabus to meet the specific needs of the class during the semester.