Spring 2010

Course Information


In the paradigm sequence you have studied (and are studying) selected examples of key physical phenomena that occur repeatedly in different areas of physics. The characteristic behavior associated with central forces, for example, may be found in classical orbital mechanics, atomic physics, and electrostatics. In this capstone, we will concentrate on classical mechanics, stepping back to consider the general principles that allow one to deal with broad classes of physical situations. We will revisit some of the paradigms you have already seen, but we will also investigate many more examples.

The goals of this course are:

The course will comprise three main parts. The first is a survey of the methods of Newtonian mechanics with applications to single particle motion and simple collisions. The next will be an introduction to the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods of deriving equations of motion. Finally, we will develop and apply the method of normal coordinates to deal with problems involving coupled oscillators.

Course Work:
Office Hours:

David McIntyre

Weniger 463

MW 10-11, F 11-12

Course Evaluation:

PH435: Final exam: 45%. Midterm exam 30%. Homework 25%.
PH535: Final exam: 35%. Midterm exam 20%. Homework 25% Paper 20%

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, June 8, 2:00 pm

PH535 Paper

A short paper on a topic of your choosing is required. It should include a brief introduction, a calculation, and some comment on why the calculation is useful or interesting. It can be an extension of some problem assigned in the text or the resources, and should be handed in and presented as a 10-minute talk on the final day of class. A topic should be proposed in writing by May 7. The level of effort expected is approximately equivalent to 1-2 week's homework. Some guidelines should help avoid pitfalls. If any member of the PH435 class is interested in this option, please talk to me.

Students with Special Needs:

Students with documented disabilities who may need accomodations, who have any emergency medical information which the instructor should know of, or who need special arrangements in the event of evacuation, should make an appointment with the instructor as early as possible, no later than the first week of the term.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at

Last Update: 3/24/10

Return to Physics Department Homepage

© David McIntyre, Department of Physics, Oregon State University, 2010.