Physics 174 Physics Laboratory Introduction
Williams and Losert course web page, fall 2002

Prof. Ellen Williams  (sections 0101, 0102, 0106)
Office:  Room 2332 Physics Building
Phone: 5-6156        Fax: 301-314-9465

Prof. Wolfgang Losert (sections 0103, 0104, 0105)
Office: Room 3359 A.V. Williams Building
(Lab: Rm 0101 Energy Research Building  ext: 5-6759)
Phone: 5-0629
Web  Page:


What the course is about:

Physics 174 is an introductory Physics Lab that meets for two hours each week in Room 3120 of the Physics Building. In this course you will be expected to master a few basic ideas and tools which you will need for later labs, including: understanding experimental errors, using computer spreadsheets for analyzing, plotting and fitting data, and working with simple electrical circuits and electrical measuring equipment.

Texts: "Physics 174 Laboratory Manual,"  Department of Physics, University of Maryland, 6th Ed.
           "A Practical Guide to Data Analysis for Physical Science Students" by Louis Lyons.
            Also recommended: "EXCEL 97 at a Glance" by Microsoft.
 Lab sections: There are six lab sections:

Lab Section
9 -10:50 AM
12-1:50 PM
3 -4:50 PM
10-11:50 AM
12-1:50 PM
2 -3:50 PM

 Arriving late to class:   Classes at Maryland begin right on the hour. It is important that you arrive on time to Physics 174 so that you can get instructions for the lab and have time to finish. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, you may not be allowed into the lab and will have to make it up during the Makeup Section held one Tuesday a month.

  Office Hours: You can try stopping by our offices at any time, but if you can't find us, make an appointment by phone or e-mail
 Lab Makeup Time: If you miss your regular lab section, then you should make that lab up during the Makeup section on Tuesday.  If you have questions about the lab, the equipment, or the homework, you can also stop by during this time.  If you cannot attend another section, contact your instructor ASAP and a time for a makeup lab will be arranged. In general, this should be done the same week as the lab is scheduled.

  Teaching Assistant: TBA
 Prerequisites: The only prerequisite or co-requisite for the course is Math 140.
* Grading:

30%     Lab Spreadsheets
30%     Homework  -----> do the homework!!!
20%    Test on spreadsheet, errors and measurements
20%    Test on the oscilloscope and electrical circuits
Missing one Lab (and not making it up before the next lab) will cost one letter grade in your final grade.  Missing one homework set will cost one-half of a letter grade in your final grade.

Homework is assigned at the end of each write-up in the laboratory manual. You will turn your homework in by e-mail (we'll tell you how to do this) and you can turn it in anytime during the week, but by no later than 6 PM on the day before your next lab. Graded homework should be available a week after you turn it in.

No credit will be given for late homework unless you are seriously ill and provide a written note from your physician.

General Comments on Homework: Finishing all the labs and homework sets is very important. Missing one homework set will cost you about one-half of a letter grade in your final grade. Just do it! Also, if you can't completely finish a homework set, turn in what you do have.  When you are working on the homework sets, feel free to discuss among yourselves to try to figure out what is going on. However, do not use these discussions as an excuse to copy someone else's solution to the homework, or let someone else copy your solution. That is cheating and is strictly forbidden. It is also very self-defeating since another part of your grade will come from tests. The right way to discuss the homework is to first work through a problem on your own and arrive at a definite answer. With this preparation you can then discuss intelligently with your colleagues and see if you have missed something essential. Of course, you can always ask one of your instructors. One final thing, if you get something fundamental wrong on a homework set, you will probably be assigned extra problems to solve until you master the concept.

Important Dates
Exercise 1 Introduction to Excel  SEPT 4-5
Exercise 2 Measurements, Errors and Uncertainties SEPT 11-12
Exercise 5 Propagation of Errors SEPT 18-19
Exercise 4 Straight Line Fits Using Excel and Chi-Squared  SEPT 25-26
Exercise 5' Using Chi-Squared and Error Propagation
             (not in manual)
OCT 2-3
Exercise 6 First Review OCT 9-10
Exercise 7 EXAM on Errors and Spreadsheets OCT 16-17
Exercise 8 Resistors and Multimeters OCT 23-24
Exercise 9 Measuring Currents and Voltages OCT 30-31
Exercise 10 Introduction to the Digital Oscilloscope NOV 5-6
Exercise 11 The Oscilloscope and AC Signals NOV 12-13
Exercise 12 Reflection of Pulses NOV 19-20
Thanksgiving NOV 26-27
Exercise 13 Review of Circuits DEC 4-5
Exercise 14 EXAM on Circuits and Error Analysis DEC 11-12