Physics 6a: Introductory Physics (Mechanics)
Winter 2012

MWF 11-11:50, Broida 1610

TR 11-12:15, Broida 1610

Office hours:
Administrative Assistant
Claudio Campagnari
Tues,Wed,Thurs 1:15-2:15, or by appointment, or whenever you can find me.
Broida 5119. Phone 893-7567.
Debbie Ceder, Broida 5014. Phone 893-2058.


Announcements related to Physics 6A will be sent out by email using email lists provided by the UCSB registrar.  They will also be posted here and made in class, on a "best effort" basis (ie: no guarantees).  It is your responsibility to make sure that the UCSB registrar has the right email address for you on file and that your email box is not full.

Course Description:

Welcome to Physics 6a.  This is the first quarter of a three-quarter introductory Physics sequence intended for life science majors. (If you are an engineering or physics major you signed up for the wrong class!). No prior knowledge of Physics is requred, however I will assume that you are comfortable with basic algebra.

This quarter we will study Mechanics, which is the branch of physics which deals with motion of bodies and the effect of forces acting on them.

The textbook is Physics with MasteringPhysics (4th Edition) by James S. Walker.  

Misc Logistics (BUT IMPORTANT):

Labs (Physics 6AL):

Normally you should be concurrently enrolled in Physics 6AL. While Physics 6A is a large lecture class, Physics 6AL is divided into a number of smaller sessions that meet once every two week in Broida 2324.  Some sections meet in "A weeks" and some sections meet in "B weeks". To find out if your section meets in an A or B week, look at the room number associated with your section in Gold.  If it is 2324A, your section meets in an "A week"; if it is 2324B, your section meet in a "B week".
Lab schedule (and definition of A/B weeks) can be found here.  The TAs for Physics 6AL are listed below
Teaching Assistant Office Hours
Jason Gran Tu 11-12  Th 11-1
Mauricio Romo Tu 11-12   F 2-4
Yinbo Shi M 11:30-12, 3:30-5   F 3-3:30    F 4:30-5
Chris Wegemer M 12:30-1:30

How to suceed in this class:
Physics should be approached differently than other discipline. You will find that the emphasis is on problem solving. You may read the book and listen to the lectures and think that you understand, but the proof of whether you have really understood the material rests in your ability to do the problems. The problems is where you are supposed to apply the concepts that you have supposedly learnt.

That is why the homeworks are so important. Only if you can do the homeworks you will do well on the exams.
You are welcome, even encouraged, to do the homeworks with your friends. But be very careful. Working with your friends on the homeworks may result in a perfect homework, but if you end up not doing the problems yourself, you will pay a heavy price at exam time. It is much like learning to ride a bicycle. You can watch other people ride, and think that you know how to ride also -- after all it looks so easy! But the reality is that you have to do it yourself if you really want to learn.

Beginning physics students are often obsessed by formulas. When presented with a problem, they frantically search the book for the right formula to plug in. This is not the way to do it! In the majority of cases you cannot take a formula from some example in the book and expect it to work for the problem that you have to solve. Instead, you must use logical reasoning. You should attack the problem methodically. Draw a diagram; make sure you have identified what you know and what you do not know about the problem; organize your thoughts; figure out what concepts you need to apply; go one step-at-a-time. Hopefully this will become clear as I will show how to solve problems during the quarter.

Memorization in physics is pretty much useless. It is useful to memorize a few basic formulas, but do not waste your time memorizing all of the steps in solved problems.

The best way to prepare for the exams is to do problems, do problems, do problems. There are many problems, beyond those assigned to you in the homework, at the end of every chapter in the book.

The weekly lecture schedule is listed on this web page. You should read the book ahead, that is to say if you know that on a given week the lectures will cover Chapter X, read Chapter X the week-end before. If you do this you will get a lot more out of the lectures. In some cases I will assume that you have read the book before class. This will allow me to skip some of the material in the book and spend more time teaching you how to do the problems.

There is no such thing as a stupid question in physics. Do not be afraid to interrupt my lectures to ask questions. Do not be afraid to come to my (or the TAs) office hours. We are here to help you.

Finally, there is a tremendous amount of material to cover this quarter. The pace is going to be quite fast, and most new concepts build on the material from the previous chapters. Be careful not to fall behind, because catching up is going to be extremely difficult.


Homework assignments will be posted weekly on this website, usually on Monday.  The assignments will not be collected and will not be graded. Solutions to the assignments will also be posted on this website.

I strongly reccommend that you do the homeworks, but ultimately it is up to you.

Homework Problems from text Solutions
Homework 1 Chapter 1: Problem 4, 6, 12, 14, 20, 30, 38
Chapter 2: Problem 4, 16, 18, 24
Solutions by Jason Gran
Homework 2 Chapter 2: Problem 32, 36, 46, 56, 62
Chapter 3: Problem 2, 8, 10, 12, 24, 30, 42, 52
Solutions by Yinbo Shi
Homework 3 Chapter 4: Problem 4, 7, 10, 14, 18, 24, 28, 43, 52, 87 Solutions by Jason Gran (now corrected for typos)
Homework 4 Chapter 5: Problem 2, 4, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 40, 46, 50 Solutions by Mauricio Romo (here is a small correction)
Homework 5 Chapter 6: Problem 6, 10, 14, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 44, 46, 48 Solutions by Jason Gran (Problem 10 is now correct)
Homework 6 Chapter 7: Problem 4, 10, 12, 20, 22, 26, 32, 36, 43, 48, 51 Solutions by Chris Wegemer (now fixed)
Homework 7 Chapter 6: Problem 54, 62
Chapter 8: Problem 2, 4, 14, 18, 27, 36, 44, 48, 62
Solutions by Mauricio Romo (now fixed -- second time!)
Also: solutions by Jason Gran
Homework 8 Chapter 9: Problem 4, 6, 10, 18, 25, 22, 26, 32, 34, 39, 40, 45, 52 Solutions by Yinbo Shi and Jason Gran
Homework 9 Chapter 10: Problem 4, 10, 18, 34, 36, 46, 50, 59, 60, 72, 74, 84 Solutions by Jason Gran
Homework 10 Chapter 11: Problem 4, 14, 18, 29, 36, 45, 46, 53, 64 Solutions by Yinbo Shi

There will be a short 15 minute quiz every week, except the first week and the week of the midterm.
The quiz schedule is the following:
MWF section Solutions and score distributions
Quiz 1, Wed Jan 18 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 2, Mon Jan 23 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 3, Mon Jan 30 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 4, Mon Feb 6 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 5, Wed Feb 22 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 6, Mon Feb 27 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 7, Mon Mar 5 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 8, Mon Mar 12 MWF quiz with solutions   Scores

TR section Solutions and score distributions
Quiz 1, Tue Jan 17 TR quiz with solutions  Scores
Quiz 2, Tue Jan 24 TR quiz with solutions  Scores
Quiz 3, Tue Jan 31 TR quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 4, Tue Feb 7 TR quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 5, Tue Feb 21 TR quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 6, Tue Feb 28 TR quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 7, Tue Mar 6 TR quiz with solutions   Scores
Quiz 8, Tue Mar 13 TR quiz with solutions   Scores

The quizzes will cover the material from the previous week, e.g., the quiz on January 17 or 18 will cover the material from the week of Jan 9-13.  You need to take the quiz for the section that you are enrolled in.  If you are enrolled in the MWF and you take a quiz on a Tuesday, your score will not count.  The quizzes will be multiple choice. In order to take the quizzes, you are supposed to bring to class on the day of the quiz the following items
Your score on the quizzes will count towards your final grade, see below. The two quizzes with the lowest scores will be dropped from the calculation.  QUiz scores will be individually e-mailed to all registered students typiaclly a couple of days afer the quiz was taken.

What to do if you miss a quiz:
What to do if you think that a quiz was scored incorrectly
  1. Look at the solutions that are posted on the web, and compare with your answers. (It would be a good idea to write you answers down on a piece of paper before turning in the scantron at the end of the quiz)
  2. if you think that there was a clerical error made in the scoring, check with Debbie Ceder.  She is the one who keeps copies of the scantrons and can double-check.  Her contat information is at the top of this web page.
  3. if you do not understand the solutions, come see the insructor or one of the TAs during office hours.  Or go to the Physics Study Room for help.


There will be one midterm and one final.
You are allowed to bring two sheets of notes to the exams, i.e., no need to memorize formulas.
If you miss the midterm, and you can provide a physician's note, the midterm will not count towards your final grade. Otherwise, your midterm score will be zero.
If you miss the final, and you can provide a physician's note, you will receive a grade of Incomplete, and you will have to take the final the next time that Physics 6A is offered. I will then use the score on your final and the rest of the scores for this quarter, to update your Incomplete to a letter grade.
If you miss the final and you cannot provide a physician's note you will fail the class.
If you are registered for the MWF section you cannot take the exams for the TR section (and vice-versa).
MWF midterm Solutions Distribution of scores
TR midterm Solutions (typo fixed, 15 Feb 2012) Distribution of scores

The final grade for this class will be calculated on a curve from:
Where to get help:
A word about email:
Email is a great communication tool, but it can be abused. This is my email policy for Physics 6a:

Approximate Lecture Schedule:

Week Chapters from book
January 9-13 Chapters 1 and 2
January 16-20 Chapters 2 and 3
January 23-27 Chapter 4
January 30 - February 3 Chapter 5
February 6-10 Chapter 6
February 13-17 Chapter 7
February 20-24 Chapter 8
February 27-March 2 Chapter 9
March 5-9 Chapter 10
March 12-16 Chapter 11