66676 - General Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students are familiar with the notion of measurement in classical physics and know how to present an experimental result. They acquire fundamental knowledge of classical thermodynamics and of electro-magnetic phenomena. They are able to use this knowledge to solve simple problems related to kinetic gas theory, the generation of electric and magnetic fields and of time-dependent electromagnetic fields, including their wave properties. In particular, they are able to analyse problems related to the phenomenology of thermodynamics and electromagnetism.

Course contents


This part of the course introduces Fluid Physics and Thermodynamics.

  • Static fluids: density, specific weight, pressure, Pascal and Archimede principles
  • Fluid dynamics: flux, continuity equation, Bernouilli equation, viscosity
  • Basic thermodynamic concepts: temperature and thermometers, thermodynamic equilibrium and Principle Zero of thermodynamics, classical gas laws, perfect gas laws and Avogadro
  • Kinetic theory: molecular interpretation of temperature, distribution of molecular velocities, evaporation and boiling, humidity, real gases and changes of phases
  • Heat: caloria and mechanical equivalent of heat, internal energy of an ideal gas, specific heat and latent heat, conduction, convection and irradiance
  • First principle of thermodynamic: isothermal and isobaric transformations, applications, heat capacity of a gas and equipartition principle of energy, adiabatic expansiox
  • Second principle of thermodynamic: thermal engine and its efficiency, reversible processes and Carnot cycle, entropy and statistical interpretation


 This part of the course offers an introduction to electrical and magnetic phenomena and to the theory of electromagnetism.

  • Introduction and basics of vector calculus
  • Electric charges; Coulomb force and electric field
  • Flux of the electric field: Gauss law and applications
  • Circulation of the electric field: potential and energy of the static electric field
  • Currents and magnetic fields; Lorentz force, flux of a magnetic field
  • Circulation of the magnetic field: Ampere law and applications
  • Electromagnetic induction and Faraday Neumann Lenz law
  • Displacement current and Ampere-Maxwell law
  • Maxwell equations in integral and differential form
  • Wave equation in vacuum and electromagnetic waves


Module 1

  • D.C. Giancoli, Fisica 1.
  • M. W. Zemansky, Calore e Termodinamica.

Module 2

  • J. Walker, Halliday-Resnick Fondamenti di Fisica, Elettromagnetismo e Ottica

    Additional suggested readings:

  • R. Feynman, La Fisica di Feynman, vol II – Elettromagnetismo e Materia
  • E.M. Purcell, La Fisica di Berkeley vol. 2.1 – Elettricità e Magnetismo

Teaching methods

Lectures in class and exercises.

Assessment methods

  • General rules

    The final grade is unique and can be registered only after the student has successfully completed the exam for both parts. The final grade will be calculated as the arithmetic average of the grades of the two parts.

    The final exam of each part can be taken independently from the other, in any order.

    The second part has to be completed within the next three sessions after the completion of the first part.

    The calendar of the exams is published in Almaesami: registration is mandatory.

  • The exam for Module 1 consists of a written exam, lasting 2 hours and a half, and includes both theory and exercises questions. It is not possible to consult books or notes; the use of a calculator is allowed.


  • The exam for Module 1 consists of a written exam, lasting 2 hours and a half, and includes both theory. The exam is passed with a grade of at least 18/30; after the written part, the student can: reject the grade, accept the grade, ask for an oral examination. The decision has to be communicated to the teacher at most the day before the date fixed for the oral.

According to the general rules of the University, it is possible to reject a grade only once. It is possible to withdraw from the examination at any moment, during the written or oral part.

Teaching tools

Module 1: Notes on some parts of the program

Modulo 2: Notes on some parts of the program and text of old exams

Office hours

See the website of Elisa Ercolessi

See the website of Michele Cicoli