Physics 270 - General Physics:
Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics
Spring 2014 - Hill
Last Modification 05/02/14

Course Description:

General Physics: Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics (3 credits).

    Third semester of a three-semester calculus-based general physics course. Electrodynamics, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, interference, diffraction, special theory of relativity, and modern physics. PHYS270 and PHYS271 (lab) 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 PHYS270 and PHYS271.

    Grade Method: REG/P-F/AUD. GenEd: Distributive Studies - Natural Science Lab (if taken with PHYS271).

Pre-requisite: PHYS260, PHYS261, MATH241
Co-requisite: PHYS271

Physics for Scientists and Engineers – A Strategic Approach, by Randall D. Knight, 3rd Ed.

    You will need the following chapters: 20 - 24 (Vol 3), 32 - 36 (Vol 4) and 37 - 40 (Vol 5)
    If purchasing used books additional software may be required.
Required Software: Mastering Physics
    You will need a Mastering Physics Access code for on-line homework. If you have acquired an access code within the last year you are all set because your code is good for two years. If you don't already have an access code or if yours has expired, then you have three options:
    1. Purchase the Mastering Physics access code without the eText for $66.00 (as of 1/15/2014). This is what you will need to do if you purchased a used book or an unbundled volume.
    2. Purchase the Mastering Physics access code with the eText for $110.00 (as of 1/15/2014). This is what you will need to do if you do not want a hardcopy of the text.
    3. Buy textbook bundles with Mastering Physics directly from the publisher or the bookstore. Only one volume needs to be bundled with Mastering Physics, other volumes can be bought unbundled.

    In addition, you will need the following to login:
    1. A valid email address;
    2. The ZIP code for UMD: 20742;
    3. The Course ID: MPHILL74414; and
    4. The URL for Mastering Physics:

    To register, goto the Mastering Physics URL and click "New Students" under "Register." To log in goto to the Mastering Physics URL and enter your Login Name and Password and click "Log In." You will be able to register after January 25, 2014.

    For help with getting started with MasteringPhysics click here.

Instructor: Prof. Wendell T. Hill, III
Joint Quantum Institute
Department of Physics
Institute of Physical Science & Technology


    IPST Bldg. Rm 2120 (just east of the PSC Bldg)
    (301) 405-4813

Office Hours
    M & W 6:15 PM -7:00 PM, W noon - 13:00 or by email appointment.
Contact OfficeOffice Hours
Lenny Campanello
Toll Physics 3101
W 11:00 - noon & Th 13:30 - 14:30
Lenny Campanello
Toll Physics 3101
W 11:00 - noon & Th 13:30 - 14:30
General Information:

Lecture: M 5 - 6:15 PM & W 5 - 6:15 PM (PHY 1410)

    Your primary sources of information are the lectures, extra reading material and the text. Lectures will consist of presentation of key principles, derivations, worked examples along with demonstrations designed to enhance what you have read in the text. To maximize your lecture experience you should read the reading assignments before lecture. It is important to understand that you are responsible for all the material covered in lecture and all the reading material. Note, however, not all reading material will be covered explicitly in lecture and the lectures will cover material that does not appear in the text. It will be to your advantage to attend the lectures where you will be told what material you need to master.

Lecture Notes
    Lecture notes are posted on ELMS. You should have these notes available to annotate during lecture.
    You will be able to use a standard scientific calculator during exams. Your calculator should provide arithmetic, trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic functions, and arbitrary roots and powers.

The recitation sections will be used to review the major points from the lectures and reading material. Your homework from the previous week along with the quizzes will also be discussed in the recitation period. You will have a chance to hone your problem-solving techniques during the recitation period; your TA will take attendance.

Time Location
Lenny Campanello
Toll Physics 1201
Lenny Campanello
Toll Physics 1201


As mentioned above, you will be responsible for assignments to be done and turned in online via Mastering Physics. Online homework will be assigned approximately once a week and will be due at 11:59 PM on Fridays. You will have a limited number of tries for most problems so guessing before thinking is discouraged. Assignments will be posted at least a week before they are due. Late homework will receive no credit; your lowest online homework score will be dropped when your grade is calculated. If you miss more than one assignment you will receive 0 for some assignments.

You will also have written problems most weeks that will be graded by hand. You will have to scan or photograph these and submit them online via ELMS on Fridays at 11:59PM as well. It is your responsibility to make sure the assignment is legible!

Quizzes: Quizzes will be given online and/or during recitation. However, pop quizzes are generally given from time-to-time in lecture. There will be no quiz given in exam weeks. You will not be able to make up a quiz.
Exams: Three midterms and a final will be given. There will be no make up midterms given. Your grade will be determined by your two highest exam scores. The final must be taken to pass the course. Exam dates are listed on the schedule.

PHYS271 is required; you must complete PHYS271 (do all the labs) in order to pass PHYS 270. The lab is run separately and Sungwoo Hong is the lead TA this semester. All questions specific to the lab should be addressed to your lab TA or Sungwoo Hong. Please click here for more information regarding the lab. .

If you believe that you have completed the lab in a previous semester, go to the Office of Student and Education Services (PHY 1120) as soon as possible to have your grade verified. It is your responsibility to have your lab score sent to me by the instructor who was responsible for the lab the semester you took PHYS271. If you have trouble contacting your past instructor or don't remember who he/she was, seek help from Student Services.

Grade Budget
Best two of three midterms
Homework (lowest score dropped)
Quizzes (lowest score dropped)

Bonus Points

    There are various ways to earn bonus points. Those who attend the discussion sections and lectures regularly will receive the benefit of the doubt in borderline cases. Typically, a bonus question is given on the first two midterm exams. Occasionally extra credit problems will be given in lecture; you must be present to earn credit. How the bonus points will be used will be described in lecture.

Letter Grade

    For the lecture portion of the class, scores will be curved. Sometimes this requires some adjustment of the means of the quiz and homework scores of the different sections graded by different TAs. Final letter grades are based on the class distribution (including the lab scores) and will not be known until the end of the semester. As a general guideline, the class mean/median is the border between C and B while one standard deviation above (below) marks the border between B and A (C and D). This is only a guideline and the actual cuts may be a bit different! Again, you will fail the course if you do not complete the lab successfully (performing and turning a report for all the labs) or if you do not take the final!


(Check Periodically)

Week & Day
Text Reading (Ch)
Subjects and Comments
1 M
Jan 27
House Keeping; Magnetic Fields;
1 W
Jan 29

Magnetic Force

2 M
Feb 03
Source of Magnetic Fields;
2 W
Feb 05
Electromagnetic Induction
3 M
Feb 10
Electromagnetic Induction
3 W
Feb 12
Electromagnetic Field
4 M

Feb 17


Electromagnetic Field Maxwell's Equations

4 W
Feb 19
31; 35
DC (Review) & AC Circuit
5 M
Feb 24
AC Circuits
5 W
Feb 26
34.6 & 34.7
Electromagnetic Waves & Light
6 M
Mar 03

Exam I

Chs: 32, 33 & 35

6 W
Mar 05
Property of Light
7 M
Mar 10
Geometric Optics: Light Rays & Reflection
7 W
Mar 12
Geometric Optics: Refraction; Lens
8 M
Mar 17
Spring Break

No Class Meeting

8 W
Mar 19
Spring Break

No Class Meeting

9 M
Mar 24
24; 20-21
Optical Elements; Property of Waves
9 W
Mar 26
Wave Optics
10 M
Mar 31
Applications of Wave Optics
10 W
Apr 02
Postulates of Special Relativity;
Time Dilation; Length Contraction;
11 M
Apr 07
Simultaneity and Lorentz Transformations4

11 W
Apr 11-13
Exam II (Take Home)
Chs: 34; 20 - 2
12 M
Apr 14
Relativistic Energy & Momentum;
General Relativity;
Applications of Relativity

12 W
Apr 16
Applications of Relativity
13 M
Apr 21
Problems with Classical Physics
13 W
Apr 23
Matter Waves; Uncertrainty Principle
14 M
Apr 28
Wave Function
Time-Independent Schrodinger Equation (SE)
14 W
Apr 30
Infinite and Finite Potential Well
15 M
May 05
Harmonic Oscillator; Time-Dependent SE;
Quantum Strangeness and Other Issues
15 W
May 07
More Quantum
16 M
May 12
Exam III
Chs: 36 - 40
16 Sa
May 17
All Chapters
* Chapters correspond to the 2nd edition. To correlate with the 3rd edition, subtract 1 for Chs. 33 and above.

Exam Dates and Material Covered:
Midterm I       - M Mar 03 (note new date!); Chs. 32, 33 & 35 -- Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Interactions
Midterm II     - W Apr 09; Chs. 34; 20 - 24 -- AC Circuits and Light
Midterm III    - W May 12; Chs. 36 - 40 -- Relativity and Quantum

Final                - Sat May 17, 6:30PM; Location: PHYS1410; All Chapters

Additional Notes: Academic integrity
    I expect you to get together in small groups to discuss the material and work on homework. However, do not use these discussions as an excuse to copy someone else's solutions to the homework or let someone else copy your solutions. That is cheating. It is OK to discuss homework and to explain how you approached a problem to your classmates who may be having difficulty on aspects of the homework. All work you submit must be your own and should reflect your own understanding. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to copying homework, Googling for solutions on the web, cheating on an exam by not following the rules or copying your neighbors' result(s), is a very serious offense that could result in suspension or expulsion from the University. Details on the policy can be found at
Help with understanding the material
    Learning physics and engineering is a cumulative process; the knowledge learned at each stage builds upon previous knowledge and skills. If you find that you are falling behind, seek help early, rather than waiting until just before an exam. Help can be obtained by:
    • Regularly attending lecture and discussion sections;
    • Visiting the Slawsky Clinic, in room 1140 Physics Building; and
    • Going to the office hours of Professor Hill or your TA.
    In addition, the Learning Assistance Service (2202 Schoemaker Bldg., helps students with time management, reading, note taking, and exam preparation skills.

    If you find that you are having more general academic problems, or are having trouble figuring out what you want to do, I recommend that you stop by PHY 1120 and talk to Tom Gleason, the Physics Coordinator of Student Services. Tom graduated from Maryland and also used to be an advisor in Letters and Science (undeclared majors). He is now the advisor for phyics majors, but he knows all the University rules and is a great person to talk to because of his perspective on Physics and other programs at the University.
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