A VPython model of an early-model particle accelerator.
This is the second semester of the two-semester sequence of calculus-based physics. We cover selected topics in electricity and magnetism, culminating in the wave model of light. Fundamental principles learned in the first semester, such as the momentum principle and energy principle, will be applied to electric and magnetic interactions.
You will learn physical modeling which I describe as "using a set of simplifying assumptions to apply a fundamental principle to describe a physical system." Surprisingly, complex phenomena can often be understood in terms of a very simplistic model. For example, electrons in a current-carrying wire can be modeled as billiard balls that make collisions with each other and positive cores as they flow through the wire. The energy principle and momentum principle can be applied to the circuit in order to explain the current throughout the circuit.
Our textbook is Matter & Interactions, Volume II by Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood. This highly innovative textbook focuses on the application of a small set of fundamental physical principles to describe:
- electric interactions
- magnetic interactions
By applying these principles and making certain simplifying assumptions (like treating an electron as a hard sphere for example), we develop physical models. Sometimes we cannot easily solve a problem using pencil and paper. Thus, you will learn to write computer programs to more easily model a physical system. To accomplish this task most easily, we will use Python and the Visual module for 3D graphics.