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Last updated 2018-April-26

Physics 411: Mechanics I, Spring 2018


The course meets on MWF from 10-11am in Crow 206. Classes will start on Wednesday, January 17.

Willem Dickhoff
Office: Compton 371; Email:
Office hours: Wednesday 2-3 & Thursday 1-2 and by appointment
Natalie Calleya
Office: Crow 222/ Power Plant; E-mail:
Office hours: Thursday 10-11 and 3-4 in Crow 305 and by appointment


Course Textbook: Classical Mechanics (University Science Books) (2005) by Taylor, ISBN-13: 978-1-891389-22-1

We will cover an appropriate fraction of the material in this book during the Spring Semester. You are expected to have a copy of this book available at all times.
Other useful books: Additional books that you should consult once in a while in the library are:
Landau & Lifshitz
Fetter & Walecka + supplement
(all are on reserve in the physics library)

Course outline

The course is defined by the material discussed in the lectures and reviewed in the problem sets. A preliminary schedule is given below. It includes the covered material in the Taylor book, the subject, date of class, and the homework schedule.

Subject material meeting date Hwk
#1 Chapter 1 Review of vectors; Newton's laws 1/17/2018
#2 Chapter 2 Newton's laws; Trajectories 1/19/2018 Problem Set 1
Solution PS1
#3 Chapter 3.1-3 Conservation of momentum 1/22/2018
#4 Chapter 3.4-5 Angular momentum 1/24/2018
Computer project
#5 Chapter 4.1-2 Kinetic and potential energy 1/26/2018 Homework due Set 1
Problem Set 2
Solution PS2
#6 Chapter 4.3-5 Relation between force and potential energy 1/29/2018
#7 Chapter 4.6-7 Energy for one-dimensional systems 1/31/2018
#8 Chapter 4.8-9 Central forces; Interaction of two particles 2/2/2018 Homework due Set 2
Problem Set 3
Solution PS3
#9 Chapter 5.1-2,4 Harmonic motion; damped oscillations 2/5/2018
#10 Chapter 5.5-6 Driven oscillations; resonance 2/7/2018
Chapter 5.6 and 6.1-2 Resonance; calculus of variations 2/9/2018 Homework due Set 3
Problem Set 4
Solution PS4
#12 Chapter 6.1-2 Calculus of variations 2/12/2018
#13 Chapter 6.3-4 Euler-Lagrange equation 2/14/2018
#14 Chapter 7.1-2 Lagrange's equations; Newton vs. Lagrange 2/16/2018 Homework due Set 4
Problem Set 5

Solution PS5
#15 Chapter 7.3-4 Constraints 2/19/2018
#16 Chapter 7.5-7
Examples; Generalized momenta 2/21/2018
#17 Chapter 7.8 More on conservation laws 2/23/2018 Homework due Set 5
Problem Set 6

Solution PS6
#18 Chapter 8.1-2 Two-body central force problem 2/26/2018
#19 Chapter 8.3-5 Equation of motion 2/28/2018
#20 Chapter 8.6-8 Orbits 3/2/2018 Homework due Set 6
Problems Set 7
Solution PS7
Computer assignment
#21 spill over

#22 Review
3/7/2018 Midterm_2017
Solution Midterm
#23 MIDTERM 9-11 or 10-12 Crow 206 or 2-4 Compton 245 3/9/2018 ~1.5 hr exam with some extra time

Format Midterm Yes:
Taylor book; graded homework; notes taken in class
laptop or equivalent; calculator OK but not on smart phone (not needed most likely)

Chapter 9.1-2 Noninertial frames; Tides 3/19/2018
#25 Chapter 9.3-4 Tides; Rotating frames 3/21/2018

Update on exam arrangements:
Everyone will participate in the final exam which will have a form like the Midterm and will emphasize the material that is covered in class related to Chs.8-11, and 13 of the textbook.
Midterm repair: those who think their performance on the Midterm did not reflect their understanding of the material are encouraged to submit numerical projects like the baseball problem, Problem 7.42, or an extension of the required computer project.
Final exam insurance: those who anticipate scoring less than desired on the Final exam are encouraged to submit a two-page summary of Ch.12 combined with at least 10 solutions of the computer problems of Ch.12.

#26 Chapter 9.5-6 Newton 2 in rotating frame; Centrifugal forces 3/23/2018 Homework due Set 7
Problems Set 8
Solution PS8
#27 Chapter 9.7-8 Coriolis forces 3/26/2018
#28 Chapter 9.9;10.1 Foucault's pendulum; Center of mass 3/28/2018
#29 Chapter 10.2
Rotation about a fixed axis 3/30/2018 Homework due Set 8
Problem Set 9
Solution PS9
#30 Chapter 10.3-4
Inertia tensor; Principal axes 4/2/2018
#31 Chapter 10.5-6 Eigenvalue equations; Precession 4/4/2018
#32 Chapter 10.7-8 Euler's equations; Zero torque equations 4/6/2018 Homework due Set 9
First part of computer assignment due date 4/9 or latest 4/11

Problem Set 10
Solution PS10
#33 Chapter 10.9-10 Euler angles; Motion of spinning top 4/9/2018
#34 Chapter 10 Overflow 4/11/2018
#35 Chapter 11.1 Coupled oscillators 4/13/2018 Homework due:Set10
Problem Set 11
#36 Chapter 11.2 Identical springs and equal masses 4/16/2018
#37 Chapter 11.3 Two weakly coupled oscillators 4/18/2018
#38 Chapter 11.4 Double pendulum 4/20/2018 Homework due Set11
Problem Set 12
#39 Chapter 11.5-6 General case; 3 coupled pendulums 4/23/2018
#40 Chapter 13.1-2 Hamilton's equations 4/25/2018
#41 Chapter 13.3
Particle in central field; Quantum Hamiltonians 4/27/2018 Homework due Set12

Office hours May 2: 2-3pm; May 3: 1-2pm; May 4: 1-2pm
Compton 371
May 3: 10-11 am and 3-4 pm Crow 305

Final exam 10:30-12:30 in Crow 206
Exam open at 10:15 closes 12:45
Taylor book; graded homework and solutions; notes taken in class
laptop or equivalent; calculator OK but not on smart phone (not needed most likely)
5/7/2018 Final_2017

Grading and format of the course





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