16726 - General Physics A

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

This course aims to give the students the knowledge of the basic concepts of scientific method, in particular the fundamental physics concepts derived from Classical Mechanics. The students have to reach knowledge of the scientific methods and of the natural laws so that they can solve simple problems in a quantitative form.

Course contents

- Introduction and vectors: Units. Physical quantities. Vectors and vector algebra.

- Kinematics and dynamics: Motion along a straight line. Motion in two or three dimensions. Characteristics of force. Fundamental forces. Newton’s laws of motion.

- Work and energy: Work. Kinetic energy. Conservative forces. Potential energy and energy conservation. Non conservative forces.

- Momentum and collisions: Momentum and impulse. Collisions.

- Rotational motion: Rotation of rigid bodies. Kinematics of rotational motion. Moment of inertia. Rotational enenergy. Torque. Angular momentum. Conservation of angular momentum. Rigid body rotation about a fixed axis. Rolling without slipping.

- Solid: Equilibrium of rigid bodies. Elasticity and fracture of materials. Hooke's law. Stress and deformation: traction, compression, bending, shearing, torsion. Elasticity of biological tissues.

- Fluid Mechanics: Density and pressure. Pressure, depth and Stevino’s law. Archimede’s principle. Fluid dynamics: continuity equation, Bernoulli’s equation.

- Periodic motion: Simple harmonic motion: equations and period.

- Gravitation: Newton’s law of gravitation.


Suggested book:

Hugh D. Young, Roger A. Freedman, A. Lewis Ford "PRINCIPI DI FISICA, vol 1. Meccanica, Onde e Termodinamica", Pearson.

The topics of the course are present in all the texts of general physics that contain the subjects of mechanics (texts of university level that make use of the integral calculus). For example, D. Halliday & R. Resnick "Physical 1 ", R. Serway "Principi di Fisica" and many others.

For further exercises the electronic version eText of the book above (which contains summary exercises of the various chapters) is suggested.

Teaching methods

Class lectures supported by PC slides. Exercises and problems sessions. Tutorial activity is foreseen.

Assessment methods

Written examination to be passed before the (compulsory) oral examination. There are no restrictions for admission. There are no partial examinations foreseen during the year.

  • The written exam consists in few problems and it typically lasts 90minutes. The level of difficulty will be comparable to that of the exercises dealt with during the course. During the written exam the usage of a calculator and a formulary (provided by the professor) is allowed. More trials are allowed, however only the mark of the last exam delivered will be valid (even if it is less than a previous one). Students can withdraw at any time during the written examination (the mark of last written exam delivered will remain valid).
  • The written exam is passed with mark above 17/30 and this grants access to the oral examination.
  • The oral examination must be passed within 6 months from the passed written one. If needed, more trials may be done within this period. Expired this period 6 without an oral examination, the written exam must be repeated. Obtaining 17 as mark allows admission with "reserve" to the oral exam, which means it has to be carried out within the same session and the final mark might be 18 (or a little more).
  • The mark obtained following this examinations will be combined with the one of the General Physics B part to give the final mark for the General Physics course.

Practical information for the registration to the examinations:

  • Registration to the written exams occurs via the site Almaesami. Typically the list is closed one week before the written exam. Students who didn't register in time can try to show up at the time of the exam but there are no guarantees to be admitted. In fact the admission will only happen if there are seats available in the classroom.
  • Registration to the oral exams occurs via the site Almaesami. Students can sign up until the day before. The order of registration will be followed. In case the oral examinations take place on several days, students will be notified (through Almaesami) with the list of students to be examined for each day. It is not possible to foresee a time slot in advance (as it depends on the number of examiners available and any changes in the duration of each oral). Any position exchanges in the list are allowed but you must agree with each other.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Fanfani