Physics 270 - General Physics:
Electrodynamics, Light, Relativity and Modern Physics
Spring 2013 - Hill
Last Modification 04/23/13

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

    Chs: 20 - 24, 33 - 41 (2nd Ed.)
    Chs: 20 - 24, 32 - 40 (3rd Ed.)
    Either edition is OK. 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, then you have two options:
    1. Purchase the Mastering Physics access code for about $66.00. This is what you will need to do if you purchased a used book or an unbundled volume, or if your code has expired.
    2. Buy textbook bundles with Mastering Physics directly from the publisher. 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: MPHILL79330; 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."
Instructor: Prof. Wendell T. Hill, III
Joint Quantum Institute
Department of Physics
Institute of Physical Science & Technology


    Computer and Space Science Bldg. Rm 2107
    (301) 405-4813
    wth 'at' umd 'dot' edu

Office Hours
    M & W 5 PM - 6 PM or by email appointment.
Contact OfficeOffice Hours
Anton de la Fuente
matonski 'at' gmail 'dot' com
PHY 4208
Anton de la Fuente
matonski 'at' gmail 'dot' com
PHY 4208
General Information:

Lecture: M 7 - 8:50 PM & W 7 - 7:50 PM (PHY 1201)

    Your primary sources of information are the lectures and the reading material, including the text. (Occasionally, supplemental material may be assigned.) 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 in the text 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.

    You will need a Clicker to respond to questions posed in lecture. Attendance via clicker response will be used to help determine grades in borderline cases. Use clicker channel 2 for PHY 1201.
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 and returned to you. You will have a chance to hone your problem-solving techniques during the recitation period. You will garner bonus points by attending your recitation regularly; your TA will take attendance.

Time Location
Anton de la Fuente
W 8 - 8:50 PM
PHY 0405
Anton de la Fuente
W 6 - 6:50 PM
PHY 0405


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 5:30 PM on Wednesdays. 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.

Occasionally you will be given written assignments to be submitted on paper at the end of lecture on Wednesdays. These will be graded by hand. You will not have assignments due on exam weeks. All written assignments will count so if you plan to be absent the day they are due make arrangements for your assignment to be turned in.

Quizzes: Quizzes will generally be given during recitation. However, pop quizzes could be given in lecture. There will be no quiz given in exam weeks. You will not be able to make up a quiz. Your lowest quiz score will be dropped when determining your quiz score.
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 is organized by Prof. J. Robert Anderson this semester. All questions specific to the lab should be addressed to your lab TA or Prof. Anderson. Please click here for more information regarding the lab.

If you believe that you have completed the lab in a previous semester, go to Student 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

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. Generally, there will be a bonus question on exams and occasionally an extra credit problem will be given in lecture. These bonus points will be added to your score after the distribution is created.

Letter Grade

    For the lecture portion of the class, the scores will be curved. Usually that 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 is the border between C and B while one standard deviation above the mean marks the border between B and A. 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 or if you do not take the final!


(Check Periodically)

Week Dates (M|W)
Reading (M|W)*
W Jan 23
House Keeping; Magnetic Fields
Jan 28 | Jan 30
33 | 33
Magnetic Fields
Feb 4 | Feb 6
33 | 34
Electromagnetic Induction
Feb 11 | Feb 13
34 | 35
Electromagnetic Induction
Feb 18 | Feb 20
Review & 35 | Exam I
Chs. 33 and 34
Feb 25 | Feb 27
35 & 36 | 36
AC Circuits
Mar 4 | Mar 6
37 | 37
Mar 11 | Mar 13
37 | 37
Mar 18 | Mar 20
Spring Break
Mar 25 | Mar 27
Review, 20 & 21| Exam II
Chs. 36 - 37
Review of Waves
Apr 1 | Apr 3
22 | Exam III
Waves, Superposition, EM Waves and Optics
Apr 8 | Apr 10
23, 24 & 25
Interfeence, Difraction & Optical Devices
Apr 15 | Apr 17
38 & 39
Problems with Classical Physics; Quantization
Apr 22 | Apr 24
39 | 40
Wave Function and Uncertainty
Apr 29 | May 1
40 & 41
1-D Quantum Mechanics
May 6 | May 8
41 & Review | Exam IV
All Chapters

May 14, 18:20 - 20:30
Chem 1402

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       - W Feb 20; Chs. 33 and 34
Midterm II     - W Mar 27; Chs. 36 - 37
Midterm III    - W April 3; Chs. 36 - 37 (open to all because Passover the previous week)

Midterm IV    - W May 8; All Chapters (but focused more on EM Waves and Quantum)
Final                - Tu May 14, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM in Chem 1402; 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 (2201 Schoemaker Bldg., 301-314-7693) 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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