Return to Physics 123 Home page.
Instructor: Lawrence Rees
Office: N-357 ESC
Office Hours: Please come MWF 2:00-2:50 p.m. if possible. Other office hours
are MWF 10:00-10:50 p.m. and TTh 9:00-9:50 a.m.
What is Physics 123?
Physics 121 is mechanics. Physics 220 is
electricity and magnetism. Physics 123 is everything else. Specifically, we
cover fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, sound, ray and wave optics,
special relativity, and quantum mechanics. Since we cover so many topics, we’ll
just touch the surface of each topic before we move on. Most students think this
is the most interesting and least difficult course in the 121/123/220 series.
Am I in the correct section of Physics 123?
There are two sections of 123 scheduled during
this hour. Anyone is welcome to enroll in this section; however, if you are a
physics major or a physics minor, you probably should be in the other section.
Section 2 does not cover any quantum mechanics because physics majors and minors
take a full semester of quantum mechanics later. Section 2 is currently full,
but there will probably be openings after the first day of class.
It’s been a long time since I took calculus. Do I need to
No, we use relatively little calculus in this
How much time will I need to spend for this class?
You should plan to spend at least six hours per
week outside of class. Some students find they need to spend more and some
(especially ones with poorer grades) spend less.
How easy is it to get a good grade?
That’s a hard question because some good
students find physics difficult and some not-so-good students find it easy. The
best way to answer that is that about 1/3 of the class get an A– grade
or better. There are more details on grading below.
Expected Learning Outcomes
At the end of this semester, you should
- understand the basic physical laws and models used in the areas of physics covered in this course.
- be able to apply these principles to explain a wide range of everyday phenomena.
- be able to apply these principles to scientific and engineering applications.
- understand how a variety of mathematical and geometrical models can be constructed and used to explain observations
- be able to work standard problems in each area we cover in the course.
- understand and be able to explain the basic principles of modern physics.
- be able to read and understand popular literature about physics.
- have an increased appreciation for the symmetry and order of nature.
everything you need for the course can be found on the course website. Please note in particular the class schedule which lists assigned reading, due dates, etc.
The text for the course is Physics for
Scientists and Engineers by Raymond Serway, et al. You may use the 5th,
6th, or 7th edition of the text. If you have not already
purchased your text, it is best to avoid the 5th edition.
You also need to buy a standard BYU classroom
If you were on the rolls about
you should have received an email with your class identification (CID) number.
If you have not already done so, you need to register your CID and your clicker
number on the course website. You will find a photograph showing the location of
the iClicker identification number on the registration web page. You will also
need to choose a password when you register. Your password should be
alphanumeric, be four to eight characters long, and begin with a letter.
If you did not receive a CID number, please
send me an email at email@example.com.
Lectures and Classroom Exercises
The lectures are
an important part of class. Although I provide a copy of Power Point slides on
the course website, this is not an independent study course.
Each day we
will have at least one Classroom Exercise, a short question or problem to work
in class. You will use your clicker to answer the question. Each
question will be worth three points. You will receive two points for completing
the question and one point for a correct answer. If your total score is 75% or
better, you will receive full credit, so most students receive full or nearly
full credit for Classroom Exercises.
If you forget your
transmitter, you will lose points for that day. If you lose your transmitter,
you are responsible to replace it promptly.
The text is
the most important learning tool in the course. I have listed on the Course
Schedule the sections we will cover in class each day. Please read these
sections from the text before the class period shown on the
short laboratory experiments will be set up in S-415 ESC. Please carefully check
the Class Schedule to find the
dates when which each lab will be available. Because labs are
changed on Saturday
mornings, you should complete the labs by Friday night. I would recommend
that you do the labs early in the week as the labs are less crowded and you
have some flexibility to come back in case there are problems beyond your or
our control. Completed forms are due on the Monday after
you have done the lab. They will be submitted to the boxes across from N-375 ESC
(the ones under the windows). You
will receive full credit for the labs if your score is 80% of the total
If you miss a
lab because of extended illness or for university excused absences,
please let me know and I will give you credit for it.
information you need for your homework is available on the course website. Each
homework assignment is graded at noon on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and
the following Monday. Note that some homework problems have individualized input. By entering
your CID and password on the homework web page, you will see your input values
and the results of any graded homework problems. If you score 85% or better on
homework, you receive full credit for homework points.
In addition to the
regular problems, there are one or more challenge problems given for each
assignment. The challenge problems do not count directly toward your grade;
however, if you have a high A– or a high B+ grade, I will consider the
successful completion of challenge problems in assigning your final grade.
Each problem is worth 10 points. I will give you up to 100 total points for
Challenge Problems. You may work together in groups if you wish, but you
must be a contributing member of the group and you must do your own work.
Please do not seek help from the Tutorial Lab in doing these problems. Your
solutions are submitted on paper to the boxes across from N-375 ESC (the
same place as the labs). Challenge Problems are due on the last day the exam
covering the chapter is available in the testing center. For the last
section, the Challenge Problems are due the last day of class.
Each week you will need to
take a Chapter Quiz for each chapter that has been recently completed. Note
- Quizzes are due at midnight on most Tuesdays.
- The quizzes are found on Blackboard.
- The questions are multiple choice.
- The questions will be similar in format to the exam questions and
will helpful for your review and exam preparation.
- The quizzes are closed book.
- There is 60 minute time limit.
There will be three midterm exams given during
the semester. Please note the following:
- These exams will be administered in the testing center.
- The exams will include multiple choice questions much as the quizzes.
- The exams are machine scored by the Testing Center with answers entered on bubble sheets.
- No books (except foreign language dictionaries) will be allowed. Calculators are permitted, but you
are not permitted to use information stored on your calculator.
- There are no time limits.
- All exams in the Testing Center end at 1:00 p.m.! Please note this carefully!
This means that if you are given your test after 1:00 p.m., you will be
assessed a late fee and a point penalty as described below.
- There will be a few late
days for each midterm exam. The late days are intended primarily for
students with emergencies or other special circumstances. I will accept
exams taken on late days, but please note carefully that your score will be
penalized 5% unless you have a valid reason for taking the exam late and
have received permission from me to do so. There is also a fee for taking
exams late unless you have a waiver from me.
The final exam
will consist of two parts: The first part will cover the last section of the
course and will be very similar to the midterm exams. The last part will be
comprehensive and will consist of one section of matching problems and one
section of multiple choice problems. There is no time limit, but
most students should finish within two hours.
The final exam will be given in the Testing Center and will be available
throughout the exam period.
The various components of the course will be
weighted as follows:
Full Credit at
The "Full Credit at" column indicates the percentage required to receive
full points for that item. Thus, if a student gets 87% of her homework
correct, she receives full credit for homework. If she gets 42.5% of her
homework correct, she receives half of the total possible points.
Most students receive higher grades on
Homework and Classroom Exercises than on Tests and Quizzes. However, some
students do better on Tests and Quizzes than their total scores would indicate. If your weighted percentage on
Tests and Quizzes is higher than your raw percentage for either Homework or
Classroom Exercises, I will replace your Homework and/or Classroom Exercise score with your
Test/Quiz score. For example: you receive 42% for Homework and 87% on Tests and
Quizzes combined. Your raw Homework score becomes 87% and you will receive full credit for
Although a few students will benefit from this “safety net,” it is unwise to count on it saving your grade except in unusual circumstance where you may not need to do homework or are unable to attend class.
I will update your grades
periodically through the semester and post them privately online. You will need
your CID and password to be able to access your grades. If you see any errors,
please let me know promptly.
grades are based on your class ranking. Below is a list of the letter grades
that correspond to your percentile ranking among students passing the course.
Since the class is quite large, the distribution of scores is fairly
predictable; however, I may adjust the breakpoints in your favor if I feel that
it is warranted.
Percentiles (not %!)
85 – 100
67 – 85
50 – 67
36 – 50
22 – 36
14 – 22
10 – 14
I will individually review and assign all grades of C– or lower.
Return to Physics 123 Home page.
The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences suggests that the following statements be
included in all course outlines. Please note that I fully endorse these policies.
Harassment of any kind is inappropriate at BYU. Specifically, BYU's policy against sexual
harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you
encounter sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, or other inappropriate behavior,
please talk to your professor, contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689, or
contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.
BYU is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to qualified persons with disabilities.
If you have any disability that may adversely affect your success in this course, please contact
the University Accessibility Center at 422-2767. Services deemed appropriate will be
coordinated with the student and instructor by that office.
Children in the Classroom
The serious study of the physical and mathematical sciences requires uninterrupted concentration
and focus in the classroom. Having small children in class is often a distraction that degrades the
educational experience for the entire class. Please make other arrangements for child care rather
than bringing children to class with you. If there are extenuating circumstances, please talk with
your instructor in advance.