PHYS102N - Conceptual Physics II  |  Winter/Spring 2023, TR 9:30 - 10:45  | OCNPS 200

Continuum Dynamics and Modern Physics - Instructor: Dr. Sebastian E. Kuhn -

Department of Physics - Physical Sciences Building II Room 2100J
Drop-in Student Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 11 a.m.-12 noon in my office as well as by appointment (email skuhn at

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Welcome to PHYS102N. This site is under construction - new items and updates will be added frequently. Return occasionally to get the newest information.


General information

General Considerations

1) Is this course for me?

Note: This course is the continuation of PHYS101N. You must have passed PHYS101N or an equivalent course to enroll; if you did badly in PHYS101N, you might have a hard time with this course also.
The purpose of this course is to give you a fundamental understanding how Physics can describe the world around us with a coherent body of concepts and models. We will develop some very abstract ideas (energy, heat, wave, matter) that have precise meanings (as opposed to the loose everyday meanings we associate with some of these words). We will also have to "unlearn" some of the "obvious" things we thought we knew about the physical world around us and how it works. Finally, to demonstrate the relationship between the abstract concepts and models and everyday phenomena or technical applications, we will have to study a variety of examples and observations and solve problems (as well as do lab experiments). It helps if you have some knowledge of math (high school algebra and geometry) and had some science courses in high school as well. Even more importantly, you should have some curiosity about science and how it can explain the natural world.
If you tend to faint at the sight of any mathematical equation, this course may not come easy. If you have too heavy a course load already and cannot commit substantial time and effort to this course, you may be disappointed by the outcome (I recommend to reserve AT LEAST 10 hours every week for this course). If you can commit some serious effort and time, then this course should reward you with a deeper understanding of the world around you (not to mention a reasonable grade – but no guarantees!). In that case, this course is definitely for you!
Note that you only have until the beginning of the second week of classes to withdraw with full tuition refund, and only one more week to withdraw with 1/2 tuition refund. It pays (literally) to figure out right away whether or not you plan to continue the course.

2) Suggestions for Homework

Homework will be submitted through Canvas. All deadlines are hard and fast - no extensions under any circumstances (that includes late-night technical glitches).

Some general suggestions:

Get involved: Tell me (via email, office hour, note, after class) what you would like me (or the TA) to do or change to make the learning easier for you. However, don't expect miracles: We can't simply reduce the material to be covered by a large fraction, so be prepared to give us trade-off options ("do more of this and less of that"). Remember, if you never go to office hours, the Learning Center, etc., we can't help you. No student who made an effort to meet with me when (s)he encountered problems has ever failed this class!

3) Suggestions on how to prepare for tests and exams

Many of the suggestions above for the homework also apply for the preparation for a midterm or final exam (e.g., doing sample problems, following the examples in the text very carefully, etc.). In particular, the best preparation for exams is to do both your regular homework and maybe a couple extra "practice exercises" every week. But to get anything out of that, you really have to work hard at getting the answer on your own. Don't expect your fellow classmates or the learning center to "just do the problems for you". Not only is this against my rules (honor code), but it also deprives you of the learning process. Even if you don't get the final answer (right), if you at least have made a serious attempt, you will understand the correct solution better and be able to see where you may have troubles or weak areas.

And now some other "good advice": Finally, don't wait until the last moment. Spend a couple hours each week reviewing material and maybe 1-2 hours each day before the exam to prepare yourself. This is more efficient than cramming for one night (not only will you be tired, you will also forget everything more quickly again). Recent research shows that you learn more if you make sure you sleep enough during the night before the exam!

Solutions to previous Homework Problem Sets and Tests