Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide the student with fundamental knowledge of the laws of
physics and of the application of the laws to the study of the most common
phenomena in order to be able to describe and interpret investigation and
measurement techniques, which will then be used in research or working
laboratories. Particular attention will be placed on measurement units, on estimation of orders of magnitude, appropriate use of
terms and development of ability to synthesize. The fundamental equations will be
explained and applied, with identification of the limits of their validity, to the
case of simple problems.
The purpose is to transfer knowledge and develop ability, to facilitate understanding at a level which, using advanced and differentiated texts, allows to approach the main themes of General Physics and then provide the basic skills to solve problems of various kinds requiring a physical approach, to interpret results and communicate in an understandable and correct way, developing independent learning skills necessary for subsequent searches.
The student will be able to understand the fundamental laws of nature and to apply them to cases of daily interest. It will also be able to critically analyze natural phenomena, to possess a minimum of communicative capacity with "scientifically" correct language, to know how to deal with new problems by assessing their degree of difficulty, suggesting simplifications and solutions.
In particular, at the end of the training activity, the student will gain basic knowledge of General Physics and will be able to:
- Describe the most important physics laws and principles of conservation
- Recognize the relevant aspects of a problem
- Expose clearly physical phenomena
- Identify links between seemingly different topics
- Use basic maths to solve problems.
Attendance to the basic Mathematics course is strongly recommended.
Course contents summary
The course is divided essentially into four parts: the first devoted to the traditional Mechanics, the second to Thermodynamics, the third to Electro-Magnetism, the fourth to Optics. Finally some introductory concepts of Modern Physics are given.
1 - The physical quantities, their measurement units and errors inherent to a measurement are introduced. It is then developed the part concerning the motion of bodies, the causes of motion (also rotational) with the relevant laws. Particular attention is paid to the concept of work/energy, to the energy conservation and to the systems in which you can introduce the potential energy.
Examples of non-inertial reference systems with apparent forces are given. The harmonic oscillator (and the harmonic motion) as a model applicable to different physical situations is treated. The principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum are discussed. The essential concepts of statics and dynamics of fluids, up to Bernoulli's equation are then given.
2 - The essential concepts of thermodynamics, including phase transitions, are given and the behavior of simple thermodynamic systems is illustrated, in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics, up to the heat engines and the various definitions of efficiency. The kinetic theory of gases and its implications are finally discussed.
3 - Electromagnetism is addressed with the aim of presenting in an intuitive and descriptive way the Maxwell's equations and their implications, up to the electromagnetic induction. Moving charges, currents and magnetic fields are discussed with simple examples. Particular attention is paid to the concept of electric potential and electromotive force. DC and AC circuits are analyzed simply by introducing the impedance. The origin of electromagnetic waves and then the nature of light and its polarization properties are explained.
4 - The properties of light are finally addressed both from a geometrical point of view (reflection, refraction) that electromagnetic (diffraction and interference), describing optical instruments such as mirrors, lenses, lens systems, microscopes, fibers, diffraction gratings.
Mechanics of point masses:
Measurements - Units - Physical quantities - Vectors Operations on vectors - Motion
- Scalar and vector velocity - Acceleration - Motion in two and three dimensions -
Velocity and mean velocity - Acceleration and mean acceleration - Projectile motion
- Uniform circular motion - Relative motion - Newton's laws - Forces - Mass -
Applications of Newton's laws - Kinetic energy and work - Power - Potential energy -
Conservative forces - Work done by non-conservative forces - Conservation of
System mechanics and rigid body mechanics:
Particle systems - Centre of mass - Newton's second law for a particle system -
Momentum of a particle system - Conservation of momentum - - External forces
and internal energy changes - Collisions - Impulse and momentum - Elastic
collisions in one dimension - Inelastic collisions in one dimension - Rotation -
Rotational variables - Rotation with constant angular acceleration - Linear and
angular variables - Rotational kinetic energy - Moment of inertia - Moment of a force
- Work, power and work-kinetic energy theorem - Rolling - Angular momentum -
Conservation of angular momentum
Fluid mechanics - Waves in elastic media
Fluids - Density and pressure - Fluids at rest - Measurement of pressure - Pascal's
law - Archimedean principle - Ideal fluids in motion - Streamlines and continuity
equation - Bernoulli equation - Oscillations - Simple, damped and forced harmonic motion, Pendulums - Resonance - Waves -
Transverse and longitudinal waves - Wavelength and frequency - Speed of a
moving wave - Energy and power of a moving wave - The superposition principle -
Interference - Phase vectors - Stationary waves and resonance - Acoustic waves -
Speed of sound - Interference - Sound intensity and level - Sources of musical
sounds - Beats - Doppler effect
Newton's law of gravitation - Inertial mass and gravitational mass - Terrestrial
gravitation: the weight of bodies and the fall of bodies - Kepler's laws of planetary
motion - Gravitational potential energy - Artificial satellites and interplanetary probes
- Gravitation, astrophysics and cosmology
Heat and temperature:
Thermal equilibrium and zeroth law of thermodynamics - Temperature and heat -
Temperature measurement and temperature scales - Thermal expansion - Heat
capacity and specific heat - Changes of state and latent heat - Propagation of heat
The first law of thermodynamics:
Heat and work - Thermodynamic system - Internal energy - Thermodynamic
transformations - Reversible and irreversible processes - Graphical representation
of a transformation - Gas as a thermodynamic system - Work of pressure forces -
Molar specific heat at constant volume and at constant pressure - Ideal gas law -
Real gases and van der Waals equation - The first law of thermodynamics - Heat,
work and internal energy in the thermodynamic processes of the ideal gas:
isothermal, isobaric, isochoric and adiabatic.
The second law of thermodynamics:
Operation of heat engines - Reversible engines and the Carnot cycle - Irreversibility
of thermal processes - The second law of thermodynamics in the Kelvin and
Clausius formulations - Efficiency of heat engines - Absolute thermodynamic
temperature and efficiency of the Carnot cycle - Refrigerators - The entropy function
- Entropy changes in reversible and irreversible thermodynamic processes - Entropy
and heat engines - Natural processes and energy degradation.
Kinetic theory of gases:
Ideal gas model - interpretation of the pressure and temperature of a gas - Internal energy and equipartition principle - Molar specific heats of an ideal gas - Statistical
interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics - Entropy and probability:
disorder and information.
The electric field:
Introduction to electrostatics - Electric charges - Conducting and insulating materials
- Coulomb's law - Electric force and electric field generated by monopoles - Lines of
force of an electric field - Field generated by cha
Complete notes of the teacher corresponding to what presented in the lectures are available online.
D.C. Giancoli: Fisica, principi e applicazioni, CEA
J.S.Walker, Fondamenti di Fisica, Pearson.
Teaching material (teacher's notes, textbook slides, summary material, problems with solutions ) is uploaded to Elly at the beginning of the course and updated continuously.
At the beginning of the course, the minimum requirements (math and science) will be evaluated and the first lessons will be devoted to providing the necessary tools.
Traditional lecture with numerous exercises, targeted to geo / natural / environmental applications.
During the lessons. applications of physics to everyday situations will be constantly referred and situations of the "Nature" will be proposed to be interpreted on the basis of simple physical principles, stimulating synthesis capacity, simplification of the problems and suggesting analogies and correspondences to find the laws of physics in different areas.
Particular attention is paid to exercises with the involvement of the students. Additional support teachers contribute to the exercises.
Tests, exercises, summaries, descriptive slides and other educational material are uploaded to Elly and updated continuously.
Assessment methods and criteria
The degree of learning is continually assessed during the course with the involvement of the students in exercises and questions.
During the course two simple written tests are required, the text of which is published in advance on Elly. In such intermediate written tests, on problems already discussed and developed during the exercises, the ability to simplify problems and the minimum computation skills (with correct use of significant digits) are intended to be tested. It is also intended to evaluate the ability to properly apply laws and principles with appropriate measurement units.
Written tests are passes if correct beyond a minimum threshold, defined before the test itself. Passing the two simple written tests entitles to take the oral test.
The final oral test intends to verify the understanding of laws, principles and the ability to highlight links between seemingly different topics. It is intended to evaluate the ability to apply the knowledge gained during the Course and not the mnemonic enunciation itself. It is intended also to establish the correctness of the language used not only in the presentation of the laws, but also in the description of the phenomena.
In the oral test, on a list of topics that is published in advance on Elly, in addition to assessing an acceptable degree of knowledge of the laws and effects of General Physics, one wishes to estimate the ability to independently elaborate solutions, to distinguish essential from negligible and to summarize with correct language.
The exercises are targeted at naturalistic, environmental and geological applications.