66682 - Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the meaning of the main quantities of classical physics, their units and relative relations. The student knows the concepts of measurement uncertainty and error propagation, the mechanics of single points and of composite systems, the elementary theory of classical electromagnetism in vacuum and in matter. The student has also basic knowledge of geometric and wave optics.

Course contents

Dimensional formulae and physical units, analysis and propagation of experimental uncertainties. Scalar and vector quantities.

Kinematics of a point mass, kinematic quantities and special motion: uniform, uniformly accelerated, uniform circular and harmonic motion.

Dynamics of a point mass, equations of dynamics. Work, conservative forces and potential energy. Conservation laws for momentum and mechanical energy. Collisions of point masses. Kinematics of extended bodies, dynamics and equations of motion. Rotating bodies, moment of inertia and torque of a force, angular momentum. Equilibrium.

Electrostatics, Coulomb force and electric field. Electrostatic potential and potential energy. Conductors and insulators, polarizability and dielectric constants. Electric currents, Ohm's law and Joule effect. Basic electric circuits.

Magnetostatic, time-independent magnetic fields generated by electric currents. Magnetic induction. 

Geometrical optics: Snell laws, light propagation in presence of spherical mirrors and thin lenses. Wave optics: interference and diffraction of light, diffraction gratings.


D.Halliday, R.Resnick, J.Walker, "Fundamentals of Physics", Wiley

Teaching methods

Lectures and classroom exercises.

Assessment methods

The knowledge of elementary mechanics and electromagnetism will be verified by means of a written test with exercises at a level of difficulty similar to those in the textbook and to those solved during lectures. The written test duration is 3 hours.

A grade equal or higher than 15 in the written test is required for admission to the oral test. Students with a grade equal or higher than 24 in the written test may ask to confirm the grade as final, waiving the oral test.

Two partial written tests will take place: the first at mid course, regarding mechanics, the second at the end, regarding electromagnetism. The duration of each is 3 hours. Students with an average grade equal or larger 18 may ask to confirm the grade as final, waiving the oral test. 

An oral exam might follow with more "theoretical" questions regarding the topics of the lectures.

Teaching tools

Blackboard, projector, pc, auxiliary material available on the web.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Minardi