For information about Web accessibility, please contact the Webmaster at

Haverford College
Departments of Physics and Astronomy

Physics 105a - Fundamental Physics I


Instructor: Professor Stephen Boughn
Office: Strawbridge Observatory, 896-1146 (office hours to be announced)

Laboratory Instructor: Professor Joseph Ochoa
Office: KINSC L102, 795-6232 (office hours to be announced)


Essential University Physics, Volume I (2nd edition) by Wolfson. Volume 2 of this text will be the textbook for the second semester of this course (Phys 106) and so Volume I will continue to be an important resource next semester. This text is written in a accessible, conversation style and is ideal for self-study. All 19 chapters of the text will be assigned reading whether or not the material is covered in class. In addition to completing the written assignments, students are urged to enhance their problem-solving skills by working additional problems at the end of the chapters. The answers to all odd numbered problems appear in the back of the text.

Lectures/Classes and Preparation:

The Monday class will consist of a formal “review” of the assigned reading (typically one or two chapters of the text). The important concepts will be covered and examples presented. Wednesday’s class will be a workshop. Difficulties with the concepts and homework problems will be discussed and students will be called upon to work problems in class. The first half of Friday’s class will again be devoted to discussing concepts and problems. This class will end with a 20-minute quiz on material covered during the week. For maximum benefit from the lectures and workshops, it is imperative for students to have completed the reading assignment before Monday’s class and to have attempted to work half of the assigned homework problems before class on Wednesday. By the end of the class on Friday, you will have solved most of the problems on the assignment. This is important because both the written solutions and a new reading assignment must be completed before the class on the following Monday.

Assignments, Quizzes, and Exams:

Homework problems will be assigned every Monday and will be due in class the following Monday. Collaboration on most homework problems is allowed. In addition, homework problems will be discussed in class and, in some cases, worked to completion. However, it is strongly advised that you attempt all homework problems by yourself before seeking assistance from other students, the instructor, or at the Physics Clinic (see below). This will be extremely beneficial to you in your ability to do physics. Each assignment will include a few problems that are to be worked entirely by yourself with no help from others. Homework assignments handed in up to one week after the due date will receive ½ credit. Short, in-class quizzes will be given during the last twenty minutes of class on most Fridays. Makeup quizzes will be made available ONLY for excused absences requested before the date of the quiz. There will be two in-class exams (midterms) covering the material in Chapters 1-9 and 10-15. A self-scheduled final exam will be given during the exam period. Course grades will be determined from performance on homework and quizzes (~30%), exams (~50%), and laboratory (~20%).


Labs are held on Tues. or Wed. (every other week) 1:15 - 4:00 PM in KINSC Harris 105. You will be assigned to the Tues. or Wed. lab section on the basis of a form to be filled out during the first week of class. The results will be posted on a bulletin board outside H105; check your assignment promptly as the laboratory begins the second week of class. The laboratory manual for this course is available at the bookstore. Subsequently, the laboratory meets every other week. The schedule is listed in the laboratory manual. All other supplies needed in the laboratory will be provided.

You are expected to attend every lab on the schedule; any departures from the schedule must be discussed in advance with the laboratory instructor. (Experiments are normally not kept set up after the week in which they are used.) You will only be able to complete the lab in the allotted time if you have read the instructions thoroughly and made a good effort to understand them in advance. You are therefore expected to come to each lab fully prepared, having read the manual and having answered all pre-lab questions beforehand.

Physics Clinic:

Wednesday & Thursday 7 to 10pm, Hilles 107 (Physics Lounge) starting the second week of classes. This resource is staffed by experienced and friendly physics majors to help you with any questions you may have from class or with homework.

Tentative Course Outline:

Week of Topic Reading
Sept. 2 One Dimensional Motion Chapters 1 & 2
Sept. 9 2D and 3D Motion Chapter 3
Sept. 16 Newton’s Laws Chapters 4 & 5
Sept. 23 Work and Energy Chapters 6 & 7
Sept. 30 Conservation of Momentum & Gravity Chapters 8 & 9
Oct.  7 Review and Midterm I (no quiz)
Oct.  14 Fall Break ---------------------
Oct.  21 Rotational Motion Chapters 10 &11
Oct.  28 Equilibrium and Oscillations Chapters 12 &13
Nov. 4 Wave Motion Chapter 14
Nov. 11 Fluids Chapter 15
Nov. 18 Review and Midterm II (no quiz)
Nov. 25 Temperature and Heat Chapter 16
Dec. 2 Heat, Work, and the First Law Chapters 17 & 18
Dec. 9 Second Law of Thermodynamics Chapter 19