19704 - General Physics B

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

This course aims to give students the knowledge of the basic concepts of the electromagnetism in empty space and the principles of thermodynamics, and how they can be expressed in mathematical form. The students have to reach knowledge of the scientific methods and of the natural laws so that they can solve problems in a quantitative form.

Course contents

  • Thermodynamics Program

- Temperature and thermal equilibrium (the zero principle of thermodynamics). Thermometers. Heat. Thermal capacity. Thermodynamic transformations and phase transitions.

- Ideal gases and their transformations.

- The first law of thermodynamics: Thermodynamic work, Internal energy, Heat.

- The second law of thermodynamics: Clausius theorem. Kelvin theorem. Thermal engines. The Carnot cycle. Reversibility and Irreversibility.

-Entropy. Entropy and reversibility. Absolute thermodynamic temperature. Law of increasing entropy.

  • Electromagnetism Program

- Coulomb's law. Electrostatic field.  Electrostatic potential and potential energy. Gauss law. Calculations of electrostatic fields with Gauss law. insulator and conducting media. Electrostatic capacities. Capacitors linked in series and in parallel. Electrostatic energy and density of energy. Basic notations of dielectric materials; dielectric constants. Current intensity and current density. Ohm's law: resistance and resistivity. Dissipative forces and Joule effect. Electromotive force generators. Resistors in series and in parallel.

- Magnetic induction field. Lorentz's force Charged particle motion in magnetic fields. Magnetic field sources. Biot-Savart law. Ampere's law. Calculations of magnetic fields. Solenoids. Forces on parallel wires with current. Velocity selector and mass spectrometer. Classical Hall effect.
Induced electromagnetic forces and Faraday law. Lenz law. Electric fields produced by time-dependent magnetic fields. Electric current generators. Self inductance and inductors. Magnetic field energy. 
Maxwell equations and their consequences.

  • Wave

- Hints of Electromagnetic waves. Propagation of Light: reflection and refraction. Total reflection. Fiber optics. Dispersion.


Suggested books:

  • Hugh D. Young, Roger A. Freedman, A. Lewis Ford "PRINCIPI DI FISICA, vol 1. Meccanica, Onde e Termodinamica", Pearson.
  • Hugh D. Young, Roger A. Freedman, A. Lewis Ford "PRINCIPI DI FISICA, vol 2. Elettromagnetismo e Ottica", Pearson.

The topics of the course are present in all the texts of general physics containing the subjects of thermodynamics, electromagnetism, optics (texts of university level that make use of the integral calculus).

For further excercises the electronic version eText of the above mentioned books (which contain summary exercises of the various chapters) is suggested.

Teaching methods

Class lectures supported by PC slides (available beforehand on IOL platform) and demonstrations/exercises carried out on the blackboard. Exercises and problems sessions.

Tutoring activity is foreseen, in particular on summary exercises of the main topics addressed.

Assessment methods

Written examination to be passed before the (compulsory) oral examination. It is strongly suggested, but not binding, to pass the examination of General Physics A first. 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 A 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.


Teaching tools

The basic elements of trigonometry, elementary geometry and mathematical analysis and vector algebra, as well as themes and physical concepts already acquired in a university course of Classical Mechanical, are assumed to be acquired.
Part of the lessons is devoted to discussion of questions and exercises.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Fanfani