**What ***is* this course?

*is*this course?

*Physics 152 is the second semester of a long-established
four-semester Introductory Physics course intended for prospective
physics majors at Virginia. *

*The first semester (Physics 151) covers Newtonian Mechanics,
except that Gravity has been replaced by Special Relativity, so Gravity
begins 152. *

*A unifying theme of the rest of the course is applying Newton’s
Laws to a small segment of a large system to find laws governing the
system as a whole. Examples include analyzing the forces on a
tiny cube of air to discover how the density of the atmosphere varies
with height, or how pressure and velocity vary as a fluid in a pipe
encounters a narrowing; similarly understanding the forces on a tiny
segment of a vibrating string or of air in a pipe lead to the wave
equation for sound. The Kinetic Theory of Gases combines Newton’s
Laws for individual molecules with statistical arguments to build an
understanding of pressure, temperature and entropy at a molecular level.*

* I have covered some topics at a slightly higher
mathematical level than that in the standard textbooks, since this is
our most in-depth introductory sequence. This meant teaching the
necessary mathematics to some extent: for example, using complex numbers
in solving differential equations. I also use history to examine how
concepts evolved – the hope being that this will lead to a better
grasp of the concepts. *