Physics 152: Gravity, Fluids, Waves, Heat

Michael Fowler, UVa.

About this course...

These lecture notes constitute the second semester of our former four-semester introductory course for physics majors. (The first semester was dynamics, the third electricity and magnetism, and the fourth modern physics, as covered in my notes.)

I've included brief accounts of how understanding of some of the central concepts in physics, such as energy, heat and entropy, evolved over time. These particular lectures are easy to read, and mirror to some extent a physicist's development from simply observing the natural world to accounting for what is observed in terms of these rather abstract concepts. The hope is that this will lead to deeper understanding of the concepts themselves.

The topic sections are pretty much independent of each other, each could be used singly in a course, except that the Oscillations and Waves lectures use complex numbers and the exponential function (covered in the math section before).

Each of the sections has a detailed index, which includes links to other course materials, including homework assignments and summary sheets.

The course uses several of my Applets, and more are currently under development.


Detailed Gravity Index

Discovering Gravity: Galileo, Newton, Kepler

Visualizing Gravity: the Gravitational Field

Working with Gravity: Potential Energy

Elliptic Orbits: Paths to the Planets

Binary Stars and Tides

General Relativity


Detailed Fluids Index


Boyle’s Law and the Law of Atmospheres

The Bernoulli Effect

Liquid Viscosity

Gas Viscosity

Calculating Viscous Flow

Using Dimensions

Stokes’ Law

Inertial Drag Force and the Reynolds Number

Some Useful Math

Detailed Math Index

The Exponential Function

Complex Numbers

Exercises on Complex Numbers

Some Exponential Integrals

The One-Dimensional Random Walk

Oscillations and Waves

Detailed Oscillations and Waves Index

1.   From Complex Numbers to the Simple Harmonic Oscillator

2.  Heavily Damped Simple Harmonic Oscillator

3.  Lightly and Critically Damped Oscillations

4.  Driven Damped Oscillators

5,  The Pendulum

6.  Introducing Waves: Strings and Springs

7.  Analyzing Waves

8.  Boundary Conditions

9.  Sound Waves

10.  Waves in Two and Three Dimensions

11.  The Doppler Effect

Heat and Thermodynamics

Detailed Heat and Thermodynamics Index

Heat and Temperature

Heat Flow and Capacity

Thermal Expansion and the Gas Law

Early Attempts to Understand Heat: The Caloric Fluid Theory, and Rumford's Experiment

The Discovery of Energy Conservation

The Kinetic Theory of Gases

Ideal Gas Thermodynamics: Isotherms, Adiabats, Specific Heats

The Carnot Engine

The Laws of Thermodynamics and Limits on Engine Efficiency


Entropy and the Kinetic Theory: the Molecular Picture

Molecular Collisions

Brownian Motion

Heat Transport