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CCOG for PHY 212 Winter 2024

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Course Number:
PHY 212
Course Title:
General Physics (Calculus)
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Topics include concepts in fluid mechanics, waves, thermodynamics and optics. Prerequisites: PHY 211 and its prerequisite requirements. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This is a calculus-based physics course required for students majoring in engineering, physics and chemistry.  The course is transferable to other baccalaureate engineering programs.  Students should be aware of the program requirements of the institutions to which they wish to transfer.  This course conforms with the Oregon Block Transfer program.

Intended Outcomes for the course

After completion of this course, students will
1) Apply knowledge of fluids, thermodynamics, sound waves, and light waves to explain natural physical processes and related technological advances.
2) Use an understanding of calculus along with physical principles to effectively solve problems encountered in everyday life, further study in science, and in the professional world.
3) Design experiments and acquire data in order to explore physical principles, effectively communicate results, and critically evaluate related scientific studies.
4) Assess the contributions of physics to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of physics in its historical and cultural context.

Course Activities and Design

Principles and techniques are presented through lectures and class demonstrations.  Students must register for lecture, one recitation,
and one lab.  Laboratory work will be performed in order to clarify certain facts in the lecture materials.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods
used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course
grade.  The methods may include one or more of the following tools: 
examinations, quizzes, homework assignments, laboratory reports,
research papers, small group problem solving of questions arising from
application of course concepts and concerns to actual experience, oral
presentations, or maintenance of a personal lab manual.
Specific evaluation procedures will be given in class.  In general, grading
will be based on accumulated points from homework assignments, tests,
final exam, and labs.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


The goal is to gain knowledge and develop an understanding of the mechanical properties of fluids.


  1. Calculate and measure density and pressure in fluids.
  2. Calculate hydrostatic pressure as a function of depth.
  3. Define and apply Pascal’s Principle.
  4. Define and apply Archimedes’ Principle.
  5. Study fluids in motion, including the Continuity Equation and Bernoulli’s Equation.


The goal is to develop an understanding of oscillations with particular emphasis on simple harmonic motion.


  1. Discuss properties of harmonic motion, including period and frequency.
  2. Describe simple harmonic motion mathematically including equations for position, velocity and acceleration.
  3. Study spring oscillators. Establish the relationship between angular frequency and the physics properties of the spring oscillator.
  4. Derive a relationship for total energy stored in a spring oscillator system and describe the transfer of energy between kinetic and potential energies.
  5. Study different types of pendulums (torsional, simple and physical). For each of these case studies find an equation for the period as a function of the physical parameters of the pendulum.
  6. Study damped simple harmonic motion.
  7. Study forced oscillations.


The goal is to understand of wave motion and wave interaction.


  1. Introduce wave types (transverse and longitudinal).
  2. Define wave properties (amplitude, wavelength and angular velocity) and the equation for displacement in simple harmonic waves.
  3. Define wave speed and particle speed.
  4. Consider wave speed in different mediums. Relate wave speed formula to the inertial and elastic properties of a simple medium: an elastic string.
  5. Understand wave interactions and apply the Principle of Superposition. Study wave interactions between waves traveling in the same direction as well as waves traveling in opposite directions (standing waves).
  6. Learn about waves reflecting off fixed and free ends.
  7. Study wave harmonics for waves generated between two fixed ends.


The goal is to apply the knowledge of waves in general to the specific application of sound waves.


  1. Define and study the wave properties of sound waves.
  2. Define the speed of sound as a function of the bulk modulus and density of the medium and calculate the speed of sound in different mediums.
  3. Understand traveling sound waves, including the equation for the displacement of a fluid element.
  4. Study intensity and the decibel sound level of sound waves.
  5. Understand interference of sound waves and longitudinal standing waves. Study wave harmonics for sound waves generated between two open ends, and one open and one closed end.
  6. Understand the phenomenon of sound beats.
  7. Understand the Doppler Effect and be able to calculate the frequency shift that occurs when both the source and the observer are moving. Study applications of the Doppler effect including supersonic motion.


The goal is to gain knowledge of the thermal properties of matter and heat transfer and to develop skills in problem solving using these concepts.


  1. Define temperature and learn how temperature is measured.
  2. Study the basic laws of thermal expansion. Solve problems of linear, area, and volume expansions or contractions.
  3. Study the absorption of heat and the effect of this absorption on materials. This will include both temperature and phase changes. The concepts of specific heat and latent heat should both be understood.
  4. Consider the relationship between heat and work, and define the First Law of Thermodynamics. Introduce and interpret p-V diagrams.
  5. Discuss the three heat transfer mechanisms (conduction, convection and radiation) including applying equations for the rate of heat transfer in conduction and radiation.


The goal is to look at three key macroscopic measures in gases (temperature, pressure and volume) from an atomic scale perspective.


  1. Define quantities needed to study gases on an atomic scale (Avogadro’s number, mole, molar mass).
  2. Define an ideal gas and introduce the Ideal Gas Law along with applications of its use. Study the work done by an ideal gas.
  3. Study the mean free path and the distribution of molecular speeds in gases.
  4. Explain pressure from a microscopic viewpoint and define root mean square (RMS) speed.
  5. Study the translational kinetic energy of particles leading into the definition of internal energy for gases.
  6. Revisit the concept of specific heat to introduce molar specific heat for monatomic gases by considering heat absorption at both constant volume and constant pressure.
  7. Consider molar specific heats for non-monatomic gases. Consider how the degrees of freedom of molecular gases changes molar specific heats.


The goal is to use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to explain the operation of heat engines. This also involves the introduction of the concept of entropy and its important implication for physical processes involving heat.


  1. Define the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  2. Introduce the Carnot Heat Engine and study the Carnot cycle using a p-V diagram. Use the Frist and Second Laws of Thermodynamics to understand heat flow within the engine and work done by the engine.
  3. Define efficiency in terms of heat. Introduce Carnot’s theorem and, along with the use of the Kelvin temperature scale, redefine efficiency in terms of temperature.
  4. Discuss real world engine examples (steam, gasoline, diesel, etc) and relate their processes to the basic heat engine cycle.
  5. Study the refrigeration cycle the coefficient of performance for refrigerators.
  6. Define entropy.
  7. Study the change in entropy that occurs in both reversible and non-reversible engines.
  8. Define the change in entropy that occurs in both isothermal and non-isothermal processes. Solve problems of finding the change in entropy for systems that contain a combination of these processes.
  9. Consider a statistical view of entropy (optional).


The goal is to develop a basic understanding of the properties of light and the laws of reflection and refraction. 


  1. Introduce the concept of light as an electromagnetic wave and define the speed of light waves in a vacuum. Introduce the electromagnetic spectrum.
  2. Introduce the concept of geometric optics and its description of light propagation in terms of rays.
  3. Study light traveling from one medium another. Consider changes in propagation speed, define the index of refraction, define the Law of Reflection and define the Law of Refraction (Snell’s Law).
  4. Study chromatic dispersion and give examples illustrating this effect (Ex: rainbows).
  5. Study total internal reflection and give examples illustrating this effect (Ex: fiber optics).
  6. Define an image and differentiate between real and virtual images.
  7. Study the production of images using mirrors of different configurations (plane, concave spherical and convex spherical). Define object distance, image distance and focal length. Define magnification and introduce the Mirror Equation. Apply the Mirror Equation and Magnification formula to solve problems involving object distance, image distance and focal length. Define the rules used for ray tracing and use them to locate images graphically.
  8. Study the production of images using thin lenses of different configurations (converging and diverging). Apply the Mirror Equation and Magnification formula to solve problems involving object distance, image distance and focal length. Define the Lens Maker’s Equation. Use the rules of ray tracing to locate images graphically. Study and locate images formed using multiple lenses.
  9. Study the application of geometric optics in various optical instruments such as magnifying glasses, microscopes and telescopes (optional).


The goal is to develop an understanding of the wave properties of light and study how light waves interfere with each other.


  1. Study the wave nature of light using Huygen’s Principle. Revisit refraction considering light as a wave rather than as a ray and introduce the concept of diffraction of light waves.
  2. Study Young’s interference experiment in order to develop an understanding of two slit interference. Determine the locations on a screen of constructive and destructive interference.
  3. Apply principles of interference thin film interference considering phase changes that occur due to reflections and path length difference in different mediums.


The goal is to gain knowledge of how light diffracts when it encounters an aperture or edge.


  1. Study the diffraction of light when passing through a single, narrow aperture (slit). Determine the locations on a screen of areas of destructive interference (minima).
  2. Study the diffraction of light when passing through circular apertures. Determine the locations on a screen of areas of destructive interference (minima) and use the Rayleigh criterion to determine resolving power.
  3. Study the diffraction of light when passing through a double slit configuration. Consider combined interference and diffraction patterns and the intensity differences.
  4. Expand the double slit diffraction concept to diffraction gratings (optional).
  5. Apply the concept of diffraction to X-rays (optional).