Syllabus for Spring 2005
Lectures: MWF 1-2 PM in Weniger 304
Group Work: TR 12-2 PM in Weniger 304F and/or Weniger 304
Instructor: David McIntyre
Office hours: MW 11-12, F 9-10 in Weniger 463 (and by appointment)
Phone: 737-1696

TA: Joanna Dunn
Office hours: MW 10-11 in Weniger 217

The official URL for this course is

GOALS: This course is intended to give students familiarity with the dynamics of rotational motion, as a concrete example of tensors, eigenvalues and normal modes of motion.  The conceptual center is the discovery and use of normal modes of motion arising in the diagonalization of a quadratic form.  The students will already have seen this procedure in the treatment of coupled oscillators, but here we have a different topology.  Cyclic coordinates take on their literal meaning.  The students will gain skills and insights into the process of choosing and changing coordinate systems.  They will develop familiarity with the center-of-mass system.  Math skills will be developed around the concrete example of the inertia tensor, which allows visualization of the meaning of eigenvectors as well as eigenvalues.   A final topic is how motion is modified by external factors. They will observe the gravitational precession of a weighted gyroscope, which illustrates both the effect of a constraint and the effect of a symmetry-breaking force (gravity).  They will then have a brief introduction to Larmor precession in both classical and quantum mechanics, returning to the NMR lab as a finale.


Grades: Based on homework (60%), a portfolio of the three laboratory projects (30%), and a final exam (10%). A complete portfolio will include records of data and computations, as well as brief essays giving summaries and conclusions for each of the experimental systems studied. Laboratory and computer exercises will be performed in teams, but each student will be responsible for his/her own report. Class assignments will be collected on Wednesdays or Fridays. The portfolio will be assessed using an Inventory of Achievement.
Please see the Ground Rules for more details.

Final: (Monday, 4/18/2005, 7:30 pm)
The final exam will be closed book.

The Postscript in the last week of the term is a required part of this course.

Students with Special Needs:
Students with documented disabilities who may need accommodations, who have any medical information which the instructor should know of, or who need special arrangements in the event of evacuation, should discuss this with the instructor as soon as possible.

Add/drop and withdrawal dates:
The last day to add/drop this class is Wednesday of Week 1 (3/30). The last day to withdraw is Friday of Week 2 (4/8). See also the Paradigm Rules page.

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