GENERAL ADVICE ON PHYSICS 117
TIMING is the first key to mastering Physics
117 efficiently: Doing each job earlier pays off much better than doing
the text BEFORE the lecture,
and note any parts which you find hard to understand. Then look for clarification when the topic comes up in lecture.
And if you don't get the clarification you need, ask about your trouble
in class,immediately after class, or as soon as possible.
Confusions tolerated too long undermine your grasp of subsequent new material, and burden your later efforts.
the problems BEFORE you look
at the solutions. Do them carefully, on paper, striving always to get
a final algebraic expression for the desired result BEFORE you insert the numerical values for the parameters. This separates
the formulation from the calculation and allows you to check your results
separately for numerical and conceptual errors.
the lab and what you will have to do with it BEFORE you go there. Then
you can do your lab work efficiently so that you can obtain the data
you need and still have time to finish the lab report and submit it
before you leave at the end of the session.
UNDERSTANDING is a second key.
Try to see what the objects of physical interest are and how
they are related. Then many standard equations of physics become natural
reflections of an underlying reality of which you have a grasp, rather
than mysterious incantations to be applied blindly.
you are gifted with a good memory, it will sometimes seem easier simply
to memorize an important algebraic relationship than to do the work needed
to grasp it intuitively. You should resist this temptation. Instead of
memorizing a physical relationship (e.g. as it occurs in a HW problem
you have solved successfully) and setting it aside as soon as the problem
is solved, you should instead reconsider it from various viewpoints: rearrange
it, invert it, apply it to other cases, toy with it, consider its behaviour
in cases where one or another numerical parameter becomes extremely large
or extremely small,...until it becomes so familiar that you can remember
it easily, without any need to ``memorize'' it.
If instead you choose to use brute memorization, you may soon arrive at
your memory overload point while still lacking the fundamental understanding
you'll need to go further. Then things get very tough very quickly. This
seems to be a special hazard for very bright students, who have done brilliantly
in High School Physics using total recall. To them Physics may look like
a piece of familiar cake. But
as the material accumulates, pure memory becomes more burdened, while
cultivated intuition becomes more and more powerful.
FOR EXTRA HELP. The
Teaching Assistants in course
will be available during specified office hours (posted under Prospectus)
for drop-in conversations. When there are more than one TA in the course, you should feel free
to consult any TA in the course whose hours are convenient, not just
the TA who manages your section, and to ask for an appointment during
other than the scheduled office hours if necessary. In addition, the
lecturer will be available for questions after each lecture period,
and at other times by appointment(Call 405-6118 or 405-6115 to make