PHYS 340 - Classical Mechanics


Instructor: Frank C. Peiris
Office: MAP 212
Email: peirisf@kenyon.edu
Phone: 427-5268
Class Times: TR 9:40 - 11:00AM
Office Hours: MT : 3PM-4.3-PM, W : 10AM-12PM

Required Text: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems (4th edition) by Jerry Marion and Stephen Thornton.
 

Course Description: Classical mechanics is the study of motion which is fundamental to all branches of physics. In the beginning of this course you will revisit most of the Newtonian mechanics learnt in the introductory physics course but with added mathematical sophistication. Then we will quickly abandon the Newtonian description of dynamics, and proceed to the Lagrange-Hamilton formulation. Hopefully, you will recognize both the power and the beauty of this description where one is able to solve more complicated problems that involve complex forces as well as coordinates. We will devote a considerable amount of our time on this formulation, and its application to practical problems. In the latter half of this course, we will cover the topics of motion in a central field, classical scattering theory, motion in non-inertial reference frames, and dynamics of rigid body rotations. In addition, we will also study the principles of aerodynamics and hopefully will have some fun outside of class seeing the validity of some of these ideas.
 

Homework: Homework assignments will be handed out every Tuesday, and will be due on Thursday of the following week at the beginning of class. Late homework will be accepted but will be penalized 20%. Homework handed to me 48 hours after the due date will not be accepted, since the solutions will be posted two days after the due date. The solutions will be posted on {P:/class/physics/phys-350} for your perusal. In solving the homework problems, you are encouraged to collaborate with your collegues but the final solution should be entirely yours. If you have had difficulty with any of the graded homework problems, it would be to your advantage to re-work these. (See the discussion on the final exam below)

Exams: There will be a total of three exams (including the final exam) in this class. The first two exams will be two hours long, while the final exam will be three hours long. The final exam will be comprehensive, and here's how it'll go. The only way you will master the subject of Classical Mechanics is by solving as many problems as you possibly can. Hence my goal is that we solve at least 100 classic problems by the end of the semester, which will include both homework problems as well as in-class-solved problems. If you work out all of these problems diligently, the final exam would be less daunting, as I will only ask you to solve 5-10 problems from this pool.

Exam 1 : Thursday, 3rd October 2002 7.00-9.00 pm
Exam 2 : Tuesday, 12th November 2002 7.00-9.00 pm
Final : Saturday, 14th December 2002 6.30-9.30 pm
 

Grading: The final grade will be determined not on a curve, and will be weighted as follows.
Homework - 35%, Exam 1 - 20%, Exam 2 - 20%, Final - 25%

Disabilities: If some accommodations are needed due to some disabilities, please consult the Coordinator of Disability Services, Erin Salva (5453, salvae@kenyon.edu) for assistance.