Syllabus for Physics 260 - Spring 2008

General Physics: Oscillations, Fluids, Waves, Heat and Electricity

 Professor Kaustubh Agashe - Sections 0101, 0102, 0103, 0104

             (Check here frequently for important announcements related to the course.)

Official Course Description: PHYS260 General Physics: Oscillations, Fluids, Waves, Heat, and Electricity; (3 credits) Grade Method: REG/P-F/AUD. Prerequisite: MATH141 and PHY161. Corequisite: PHYS261. Credit will be granted for only one of the following: PHYS142; PHYS260 and PHYS 261 (Formerly: PHYS262) or PHYS272. Formerly PHYS 262. Second semester of a three-semester calculus-based general physics course. Oscillations, waves, fluids; thermodynamics; electrostatics and circuits. PHYS260 and PHYS261 must be taken in the same semester and the grade for the courses will be combined into a single grade for both. To pass, students must complete passing work in both PHYS260 and PHYS261. CORE Physical Science Lab (PL) course only when taken concurrently with PHYS 261. If purchasing used books additional software may be required.


Instructor:      Professor Kaustubh Agashe                              Phone:  (301)-405-6018

                        Office:  4119 Physics Building               e-mail:

                        Office Hours:    Tuesday 2-3, Wednesday 3-4 and Friday 2-3 (or you can drop by my

                                               office any other time – if I am not busy, then we can discuss.)


Teaching Assistants: Jordan Horowitz (email:, Phone: (301) 405-1822, Office hours: Mon. 2-3 and Thurs. 11-12 in 
2228 Chemistry Building) and Wenxi Zhu (email:, Phone: (301) 405-5982, Office hours: Mon. 10:00 to 12:00 in 3101, Physics Building)



Lecture Time:                       M-W-F.......10:00-10:50 am.

Lecture Room:                     Room 1410, John S. Toll Physics Building

Discussion Sections:           

Section #





Tu........ 8:00- 8:50am

PHY 1219

Jordan Horowitz


M........ 3:00-3:50 pm.

PHY 4220

Jordan Horowitz


W........ 11:00- 11:50am

PHY 4208

Jordan Horowitz


W........ 12:00-12:50pm

PHY 4208

Wenxi Zhu


Lab sections: You must enroll in Physics 261 and complete all the labs in order to pass Physics 260.


Textbook:  Physics for Scientists and Engineers,  by Randall D. Knight, 1st Edition.


Recommended Textbooks: There are many books that you may find helpful when Knight is not, including Physics for Scientists and Engineers, by Serway and Jewett , Physics by Paul A. Tipler, Worth and Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker. There are also many earlier editions of these and other calculus based physics textbooks printed in the last 10-20 years that contain much the same material and can be purchased quite inexpensively on the web or at local used book stores or found in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library.


Grades: Your total numerical score for the course will be computed by summing your scores on the final exam, the two midterms (out of three), the homework (electronic and written) and the lab with the following weight:

               Final exam                                                                                           20%

               Two midterm exams               (15 % each)                                           30%

               Homework (Written 10% + Electronic 15%)                                        25%

               Physics 261 Lab                                                                                  25% (if all labs completed, F otherwise)



Your final grade will be based on your total numerical score (more details will be available later).


*Important grading notes:

(1) Students who do not complete all of the lab experiments will automatically get an F in both Physics 260 and Physics 261 - YOU MUST BE ENROLLED AND PASS PHYSICS 261 IN ORDER TO PASS PHYSICS 260. 

(2) You must take the Final exam in order to pass the course.

(3) No homework will be dropped for any reason. Turning in late written homework will not be allowed without a valid documented excuse (medical problem, religious holiday, or serious family crisis). In all cases, the makeup written assignment will still need to be completed in a reasonable amount of time. The new due date and assignment must be arranged by consulting with Dr. Agashe as soon as possible after it becomes apparent that there will be a problem. If you are going to miss a written  assignment because of a religious holiday, it is your responsibility to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance, so that suitable arrangements can be made. For electronic homework, there will be an automatic deduction of your score for submissions after the due date.

(4). For full credit for any written homework or exam problem you must show your work. Therefore, in addition to the correct answer, you must justify your approach, if possible.


About the course: Physics 260 used to be called Physics 262. It is the second semester of the three-semester 161/260/270 sequence in introductory physics intended for engineering students. You must also be enrolled in the Physics 261 lab in order to pass Physics 260. Physics 260 is a CORE physical science course with a lab. The course covers material in three main areas: (i) Oscillations and Waves (Chapters 14 and 20-21) (ii) Fluids and Heat (Chapters 15, 16-19); and (iii) Electricity through dc circuits (Chapters 25-31 of Knight). This is a calculus-based sequence and makes extensive use of material in Math 140 and 141. We also will use some vector calculus, mostly line and surface integrals, but nothing too complicated. The course will stress qualitative understanding of physical phenomena as well as quantitative analysis through problem solving. If you miss a lecture, get notes from a classmate or see Dr. Agashe. Students are responsible for all assigned material, including reading, homework and labs. Students are also responsible for material that is discussed in class but is not in the textbook. What this means is that material from any part of the course can appear on a test, quiz or homework, whether or not it was covered in the lectures.


Class notes will be posted here. Please attend every class and try to read up the relevant chapter(s) of the textbook before coming to the class.

Mid-Term Exams: All exams (including the final) will be closed book, with no crib sheets allowed, either electronic or paper unless otherwise announced. There will be three midtems, out of which the one with the lowest score will be dropped, i.e., the best two out of three mid-term scores will count towards the final grade. There will be no make-up for the midterms.


You may need a calculator during the quizzes and exams, especially one with "scientific" capabilities, i.e., trig, log, exponential, roots, and powers. Memories, parentheses, radian/degree conversion, etc., are also very helpful. We reserve the right to clear all memories on your calculators at the start of any exam. For that reason it is best to use a simple inexpensive calculator for the exams. Solutions to the exam questions will be posted. Sample exams from previous semesters will be made available for viewing. Review sessions for the mid-term exams will be announced in class and on the web.

Final exam: You must have a valid, written, medical excuse acceptable by the rules of the university to make up if you miss the final exam. The excuse must be presented to the Professor and not the TA at the first opportunity. How the missed exam will be made up will be decided by the professor at that time, assuming the excuse is acceptable. A review for the final exam will be held during the last  class.

Homework: There will be weekly homework assignments. These will consist of both electronic homework and a few conventional written problems to be turned in. We will use Mastering Physics for electronic homework. Instructions for logging onto Mastering Physics are located on a pamphlet included in your text and are listed below for your convenience.


Getting started with Mastering Physics: If you have used the Mastering Physics online program within the past year, then you can re-use the Login and password from before (just go to “Returning User”).


  1. Go to


2.  Find the course textbook image (Knight 1st edition) and click on it


3. Next you will need to register.


(a) Login ID (you create)


(b). Password (you create)


(c). Access code (which comes with the book)


(d). Course ID:  MPAGASHE69449 


(e).Student ID (and User ID): your UMID number


For any technical problems please contact the mastering physics support team by phone: (888) 547-4415 between normal business hours or by email:


Homework will generally be assigned on Monday (the written problem will be given in class and also here) and due by the following Wednesday. You must submit your answers for the electronic homework problems over the internet and the written homework in Wednesday’s class. Solutions will generally be posted here.

               There are several advantages to electronic homework submission (please check the grading policy before starting the online homework):

(1) you have multiple attempts at each problem to get the correct solution with a (small) penalty for wrong answers.

(2). hints are available for some problems with a (small) penalty for using them.

(3) you will be graded only on your final answers,

(4) grading is almost immediate.

Note that the software will randomize the numbers for each student, so be careful and remember that other students working on exactly the same problems will have other numbers!  The best way to do physics problems is to first work out a general formula for the answer and then plug in the numbers at the end. This is especially true if the numbers are being randomized so everyone has different numbers.

Students are advised to make a copy for themselves of the written homework before submitting it.


Why You Better Do the Homework: One of the main ways you will understand Physics is by doing the homework.  Do not wait until the night before it’s due to start working on your homework. The homework is supposed to be hard and it counts a lot for your grade.  A sure way to get an F in this course is to not do the homework or not give your self enough time to work on it.


Clickers: We might use clickers in class to record responses to questions. You will need a clicker for this purpose. If you don’t have one already, go to to find out how to get one and register it online.


Academic Honesty: Note that although you are encouraged to discuss homework and class material with other students, any work you submit must be your own and should reflect your own understanding. Academic dishonesty, such as cheating on an exam or copying homework, is a serious offense which may result in suspension or expulsion from the University. Details on the policy can be found at


Note on Discussion Sections:  You must attend the discussion section to which you are assigned. Your TA will cover material (homework and exams) that may not be covered elsewhere.  There will be quizzes during the discussion sections. Please come prepared so you can ask questions, i.e. read the assigned chapter and work on the homework problems.  Remember, the TA is there to give help when you are stuck, not to dole out answers.


Help with understanding the material: Physics and engineering are cumulative: the knowledge learned at each stage builds upon previous knowledge.  Do not fall behind!  If you find yourself in trouble, seek help early on.  Contact the instructor or one of the TAs.  Attend the discussion sections and ask questions, or go to office hours.  Don’t wait until just before an exam. Help can be obtained by:

·        Attending your discussion section. 

·        Visiting the Slawsky Clinic, in room 1140 Physics Building.

·        Going to the office hours of your instructor or TA.

·        The Learning Assistance Service (2201 Schoemaker Bldg., 301-314-7693) helps students with time management, reading, note taking, and exam preparation skills. 


(TENTATIVE) schedule of Physics 260 topics, exams, and holidays



Main Topics

Chapter in Knight


Jan. 28-30, Feb. 1


Chap. 14


Feb. 4-6-8

Fluids and Elasticity

Chap. 15


Feb. 11-13-15

                     Traveling Waves

Chap. 20


Feb. 18-20-22

Superposition, Macro. Description of Matter

Chap. 21, 16


Feb. 25-27

Macro. Description…Work, Heat…

Chap. 16, 17


Friday, Feb. 29

Exam I

Chap. 14, 15, 20, 21


Mar. 3-5-7

Work, Heat…Micro/Macro Connection

Chap. 17,18


Mar. 10-12-14

Micro/Macro Connection, Heat Engines…

Chap. 18,19


Spring break




Mar. 24-26

Electric Charges and Forces

Chap. 25


Friday, Mar. 28

Exam II

Chap. 16-19


Mar. 31-Apr. 2-4

Electric Charges and Forces , Electric Field

Chap. 25, 26


Apr. 7-9-11

Gauss’s Law

Chap. 27


Apr. 14-16-18

Current and Conductivity

Chap. 28


Apr. 21-23-25

Electric Potential

Chap. 29


Apr. 28-30

Potential and Field

Chap. 30


May 2

                              Exam III

 Chap. 25-29


May 5-7-9

Potential…, Fundamentals of Circuits

Chap. 30, 31


May 12





Final Exam