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Section I

East Tennessee State University

Edition 2.4

Abstract

These class notes are designed for use of the instructor and students of the course PHYS-2010:

General Physics I taught by Dr. Donald Luttermoser at East Tennessee State University. These

notes make reference to the College Physics, 8th Edition (2009) textbook by Serway and Vuille.

I. Introduction

energy and their interactions.

1. 2 main branches:

a) Classical Physics:

i) Classical Mechanics (covered in General Physics

I).

II).

b) Modern Physics:

i) Special Relativity and General Relativity.

of probabilities).

I–1

I–2 PHYS-2010: General Physics I

being applied to it.

a) Contact forces: Force exerted through a collision as de-

scribed by Newton’s 2nd law of motion: F = ma.

from its location in some natural potential field. There

are 4 field forces in nature:

‡

Strong 1 10−15 m

Electromagnetic† ‡ 10−2 ∞

†‡ −6 −17

Weak 10 10 m

−43

Gravitational 10 ∞

† - Under high energies, the electromagnetic and

weak forces act as one — the Electroweak force.

‡ - Under even higher energies, all of the natural

forces (except gravity) also may act as one,

as described by the Grand Unified Theory.

B. The Structure of Physics.

physics.

a) Concept: An idea or physical quantity used to analyze

nature (e.g., “space,” “length,” “mass,” and “time”

are concepts).

tities.

erates (e.g., the principle of relativity, that there is no

absolute frames of reference, is the bases behind the the-

ory of relativity).

Donald G. Luttermoser, ETSU I–3

Bohr model atom).

not been confirmed through experiment and/or observa-

tion (e.g., Ptolomy’s model solar system).

experiment and/or observation (e.g., Newton’s theory of

gravity). The word “theory” has different meanings in

common English (i.e., it can mean that one is making a

guess at something). However, it has a very precise

meaning in science! Something does not become

a theory in science unless it has been validated

through repeated experiment as described by the

scientific method.

method:

from an instant of insight.

servation.

ments and/or observations, it becomes a theory.

not mean one has no proof (as this word is commonly used).

Indeed, in order for a hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, one

I–4 PHYS-2010: General Physics I

C. Units of Measure.

1. There are three different unit systems that are used in science

and engineering. In the list below, the first two are commonly

called the metric system.

a) International Standard (SI) units (once called mks

[for meter-kilogram-second] units). This is the unit sys-

tem used by most scientists.

is still used in some areas of science (e.g., astronomy).

is considered archaic by the scientific community. The

United States is the only technologically advanced country

that still uses this system (though its scientists do not use

it). Strangely, American engineers still use the English

system.

independent concepts in physics: length, mass, and time. For

the SI unit system, these 3 concepts are measured in units of:

a) Length [L]: meter — [m].

— [kg].

parameters given to the same unit system — conversion of

units:

Donald G. Luttermoser, ETSU I–5

! ! !

mi 5.0 mi 1.6 km

103 m 1 hr m

v = 5.0 = = 2.2 .

hr hr mi km 3600s s

Note in the example above that there are 1.6 km in one mile [mi],

103 m in one kilometer [km], and 3600 s (seconds) in one hour

[hr]. Also note that the conversion fractions have been set up

such that the units cancel until we wind up with the units we

want (SI units).

D. Scientific Notation.

1. In physics you often find numbers that are both very large and

very small. To handle such numbers, scientists express numbers

using scientific notation:

m × 10n .

can be a positive or negative real number, where the ab-

solute value of m ranges anywhere from (and equal to) 1.0

up to (but not including) 10:

must be a positive or negative integer that ranges from

−∞ to +∞:

I–6 PHYS-2010: General Physics I

2. Powers of 10:

100, 000 = 105 0.00001 = 10−5

10, 000 = 104 0.0001 = 10−4

1, 000 = 103 0.001 = 10−3

100 = 102 0.01 = 10−2

10 = 101 0.1 = 10−1

1 = 100 1.0 = 100

expressed as

4. Multiplication:

(−5.0 × 108 ) (6.0 × 10−10 ) = −30.0 × 108+(−10) = −30.0 × 108−10

= −30.0 × 10−2 = −3.0 × 10−1 = −0.3

5. Division:

(6.3 × 108 ) 6.3

4

= × 108−4 = 2.1 × 104

(3.0 × 10 ) 3.0

8

(6.3 × 10 ) 6.3

−4

= × 108−(−4) = 2.1 × 108+4 = 2.1 × 1012

(3.0 × 10 ) 3.0

6. Raising to a power:

(1600)1/2 = (16 × 102 )1/2 = (42 )1/2 × (102 )1/2

= 42·1/2 × 102·1/2 = 4 × 10 = 40

Donald G. Luttermoser, ETSU I–7

√ √

Note that x ≡ x1/2 , 3 x ≡ x1/3, etc. Hence, the square root is

the same as raising a number or variable to the one-half power.

The “≡” symbol means “defined to be.”

7. Significant Digits.

a) In multiplication and division, the number of significant

figures (or digits) in the final result should be equal to

that factor with the least number of significant digits:

(3.0379624 × 10−24 ) (2.6 × 10−2 )

−6

= 2.514229 × 10−20

(3.14156 × 10 )

= 2.5 × 10−20

ing the least significant digit limits the result:

37.26972 (7 s.d.)

25.43 (4 s.d.)

.837 (3 s.d.)

101.22 (5 s.d.)

3.1 (2 s.d.)

167.85672 = 167.9 (4 s.d.)

Here we rounded the least significant digit up by one since

the digit just to the right of it is 5 or above.

one must first reexpress the numbers such that they all

have the same power of 10. Then the addition or subtrac-

tion is carried out following the technique above:

-2.892 ×10−6 = -2.892 ×10−6

374.078 ×10−6 = 3.7408 × 10−4

same as multiplication and division.

I–8 PHYS-2010: General Physics I

multiplication/division, both rules will have to be used in

the order defined by the equation set-up.

E. Coordinate Systems.

a) 2–D (x, y):

P(x, y)

O x

x

space have a specific orientation that follows the right-

hand rule: With your right hand thumb extended per-

pendicularly away from your hand, follow the rotation of

the x-axis with your fingers curving towards the y-axis.

Then, the direction your thumb points is the direction

that the z-axis points.)

Donald G. Luttermoser, ETSU I–9

z

P

(x, y, z)

O

y

x

right of the origin, z units above the origin, and x units

out of the page from the origin.

3–D, polar coordinates become either spherical coordinates

(r, θ, φ) or cylindrical coordinates (r, θ, z).

y

P

(r, θ)

O x

I–10 PHYS-2010: General Physics I

point is away from the origin.

r, makes with the x-axis.

3. Coordinate Conversion.

a) To convert from polar coordinates to Cartesian coordi-

nates, use

x = r cos θ

y = r sin θ

nates, use

q

r = x2 + y 2

tan θ = y/x

Quadrant I (+x, +y) and Quadrant IV (+x, –y) of polar

plots.

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