PHYSI 1100

PHYSI 1100 – Physics

Conceptual study of laws of motion, forces, energy and momentum, properties and states of matter, heat and thermodynamics, wave motion, sound, light, electricity and magnetism, and atomic and nuclear physics.


General References

Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen & James Trefil – This book is a wonderful introduction to many of the topics that we will learn about in PHYSI-1100.

About Science

NASA’s metric confusion caused Mars orbiter loss – This CNN article from 1999 hopefully demonstrates the importance of being clear and standardized with your units. Failure to do so caused a $125 million crater in the surface of Mars.

What is a law in science? (PDF) – If you’re not quite sure what the difference between a law and a theory is, this article explains it well.

Newton’s Second Law

Feather & Hammer Drop on Moon – Watch what happens to the motion of a feather and a hammer in complete free-fall. Because the moon has no atmosphere, there is no air resistance to counteract the effect of gravity.

Vector Addition: Does Order Matter? – Play with this interactive simulation to see if the order in which you add vectors matters.


Understanding Car Crashes: It’s Basic Physics – Watch this video to answer the worksheet given to you with lab 4.


Bed of Nails – Watch as Dr. Fazzini hits me with a sledgehammer as I lay on a bed of nails during STEM-CON. I don’t get injured because the kinetic energy from the sledgehammer is used up breaking the brick.

Rotational Motion

“Dancing” T-Handle in Zero Gravity – Watch a video of a T-handle as it rotates about its intermediate axis, causing the rotation to be unstable. (An object that spins about its longest or shortest axis is stable, rotation along the intermediate axis is unstable.)

Dorothy Hamill’s scratch spin – Watch as Dorothy Hamill starts spinning slowly and speeds up when she decreases her angular inertia. This demonstrates the conservation of angular momentum.


Newton’s Embarrassing Secret – Start watching at 9:52 to see the chapters of The Elegant Universe about squaring up Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation and what we know about the “universal speed limit” from Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The Atomic Nature of Matter

Gallium Induced Structural Failure of an Aluminum Baseball Bat – Watch as the structure of aluminum is destroyed by gallium atoms that dissolve the aluminum bonds. This is a pretty good indication that matter is atomic; gallium would be unable to diffuse inside of the aluminum if it were a continuum.

Change of Phase

Cyclohexane at the triple point – The triple point of a substance is the combination of temperature and pressure at which the substance will exist as a solid, liquid, and gas simultaneously. This video shows cyclohexane simultaneously boiling and freezing at its triple point.


The engineering of the drinking bird – This video gives a great explanation of the drinking bird toy. While this is listed under thermodynamics, it also applies to change of phase and rotational motion.

Vibrations and Waves

Acoustics and vibrations animations – Check out these animations of different types of waves (longitudinal, transverse, etc.)

Circular harmonics – Animations of circular harmonics, which are the waves that are created on a circular membrane, such as a drumhead


Resonance – This 30 minute long video from The Mechanical Universe series demonstrates the concept of resonance using the notable Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster

Acoustic Levitation – Styrofoam beads are levitated in the interference patterns created in sound waves.

Musical Sounds

Colors of Noise – You may have heard of white noise; there are many different “colors” of noise pertaining to the frequencies of sound contained within the noise. This wikipedia page allows you to listen to the different types of noise.


Magnetic Storm – You will watch and answer questions about this YouTube video produced by PBS before lab 12.

Ancient Trees Show When The Earth’s Magnetic Field Last Flipped Out – This interesting news article from NPR gives some information about the last pole reversal, and how it was detected using trees. I recommend reading it after watching Magnetic Storm.

[Podcast] Magnets: The Hidden Objects Powering Your Life – This 12-minute podcast gives a helpful introduction to magnets, magnetism, and why magnets are important.

Properties of Light

Visualizing video at the speed of light – MIT researchers created a video where you can see photons traveling through a medium

The Atomic Nucleus and Radioactivity

Detection of Xenon-124 decay – Researchers observed what they believe to be radioactive decay of xenon-124, which has a half-life of 1.8⨉1022 years, one trillion times longer than the current age of the universe


A Slower Speed of Light – This video game produced by MIT gives you an idea of what things would look like if the speed of light were significantly slower than 3⨉108 m/s.