PHY303K–SPRING 2016, PAI 2.48 — Prof. Harry Swinney

Classes: MWF 9-10 and MWF 10-11

Required Discussion Sessions:

for 9 a.m. class:  Tuesday, RLM 7.116 at 6pm (Unique 55145), 7pm (55150), 8pm (55155), 9pm (55160)

for 10 a.m. class: Wednesday JES A3505A at 6pm (55185), 7pm (55190), 8pm (55195), 9pm (55200)



FOR EACH CLASS: Move to the center of each row of seats, leaving no seats vacant.  (This course is full and students are wait-listed.)   Always sit next to at least one other person with whom you can discuss the clicker questions. 

AFTER EVERY CLASS:  One or more members of the 303K teaching team will be available to answer questions in the hallway just outside the classroom.


5-7 pm, RLM 4.102 :  Review session (Orrin Shindell)
7-9 pm, RLM 7.116 : Homework session (NOT on the night before tests) (Michael Himmelsbach)

TUESDAY: 10-11  RLM 5th floor tables near the elevator (Irakli Gudavadze)

WEDNESDAY: 11 am-noon, RLM 14.224 (H. Swinney)
also: 2-3 pm, RLM 5th floor tables near the elevator (Irakli Gudavadze)

THURSDAY: 5-8 pm, room RLM 7.104 (5-6, Irakli Gudavadze; 6-7 Zane Rusk; 7-8 Noor Al-Sayyad)

FRIDAY: 2-3 pm, RLM 14.318 (H. Swinney)

SATURDAY: 4-5 pm, RLM 4.102 (Noor Al-Sayyad)  NOTE NEW ROOM!!

SATURDAY (on 4/10 & 5/1 only–before tests): 7-9pm, RLM 6.104  <NOTE ROOM> (Michael Himmelsbach)

QUEST: Registration in UT QUEST is required. Quest will be used for Homework, Learning Modules, Class Clicker Quizzes, and the four evening tests. Read QUEST FAQs to get started:

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Harry Swinney, Department of Physics,, office: RLM 14.224,

Orrin Shindell (PhD student),, office RLM 14.218.  Orrin will address questions about ambiguities in the Learning Module questions and Homework problems.

Irakli Gudavadze (PhD student), irakli.gudavadze@utexas.eduoffice RLM 14.218.  

Michael Himmelsbach (PhD student) mhimmelsbach@chaos.utexas.eduoffice RLM 14.312.  

Zane Rusk (undergraduate),

Noor Al-Sayyad (undergraduate),

THIS COURSE may be used to fulfill three hours of the Natural Science and Technology (Part I or Part II–CORE component 030 or 031) component of the university core curriculum and addresses the following four core objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: (1) communication skills, (2) critical thinking skills, (3) teamwork, and (4) empirical and quantitative skills.

This calculus-based engineering mechanics course uses the modern Matter and Interactions curriculum, which emphasizes the four fundamental principles that form the basis of science and engineering: momentum, energy, angular momentum, and entropy. Frequent connections are made between the macroscopic and microscopic (e.g. gases as collections of colliding molecules, Einstein’s model of a crystalline solid), demonstrating the universality of the fundamental principles. The course introduces concepts from quantum physics, including quantization (e.g. the quantized harmonic oscillator) and concepts from relativity, including Einstein’s famous E=mc^2. 

In the classroom the instructor and teaching assistants will provide personalized guidance and interaction as students work together on clicker questions. The evening Discussion Sessions are an integral part of the course; these sessions emphasize the development of systematic problem solving techniques.

TEXTBOOK: Matter and Interactions, volume I, 3rd Edition (NOT 2nd and NOT 4th !), by Chabay and Sherwood. The book is available from stores on the drag and from many online vendors; the book is available as a paperback and as an ebook for purchase and also for semester rental.

Bookmark , which has much useful material including videos, lectures, and problems. Do NOT purchase the publisher’s homework software WebAssign because the cost of WebAssign includes a homework service that we will not use; instead we will use UT’s Quest homework system.

LEARNING MODULES on QUEST:   the Quest Learning Modules must be completed at least 15 minutes BEFORE CLASS BEGINS in order to count for credit in the course. These modules include a reading assignment and short clicker-type questions.

i-CLICKERS will be used in class starting on Friday January 22nd.  Starting on Monday, January 25th, the clicker questions will count toward the semester grade. For a clicker session in a class,  50% of the clicker grade for that class will be given IF some response (right or wrong) is made for every clicker question.  The remaining 50% of the clicker grade will be pro-rated by the number of correct answers to the questions. For example, if there are four clicker questions with a response given for all four questions but with only one correct response, the grade for the class is 62.5%=[50% +(1/4)50%].

ACADEMIC DISHONESTY: Using another person’s clicker is an example of academic dishonesty that is a violation of the UT Honor Code ( If a student is found to be using another student’s clicker, the names of both students will be submitted to Student Judicial Services ( for appropriate action.

Clicker purchase: Either the basic i-Clicker (about $10 online) or the i-Clicker-2 will work fine.  i-clickers are available new or used from many places online, and are available locally at the UT-coop and elsewhere.

Register your i-clicker in QUEST by entering its serial number. Quest will give you a number (1-150) for your clicker; you will need this number in class.  DO NOT REGISTER ON THE i-CLICKER WEB SITE. If you buy a used clicker with a serial number worn off, then determine the serial number in class by punching a i-clicker key and looking on the screen to see your serial number light up.

QUEST is maintained by the College of Natural Sciences. After the 12th day of class, when you log into Quest you will be asked to pay via credit card on a secure payment site. You have the option to wait up to 30 days to pay while still continuing to use Quest for your assignments.  Address questions regarding fees to  Address questions regarding payments to .

HOMEWORK: Due by 11:30 p.m. in the Quest system each Thursday and Sunday (except Sunday evenings before a Monday evening test). You may submit your answers one problem at a time, any time up to the due time for the homework set.   No homework will be accepted beyond the cutoff time.

ENTERING EXPONENTS IN QUEST: Use scientific notation, e.g. 3.569e-10, which means 3.569 times ten to the negative tenth power. The number -4375 can be written equivalently as -4.375e+3, or -4375, or -4375.000000

SIGNIFICANT DIGITS: Do not round off. Answers will be graded “correct” if they are within 1%, except for the answer zero, which must be exact. To be safe, use four digits, as in the examples above.

TESTS will be at 7-9 p.m. on MONDAYS on ; February 15, March 7, April 11, and May 2 . All four tests are required. NO makeup tests or alternative test times will be available — check your course schedule for other courses NOW.  The tests are a required part of the course, as listed in the UT Course Schedule that you had when you registered for the course.  Tests for the 9 a.m. class will be in WEL 3.502.  Tests for the 10 a.m. class will be in WEL 2.224.

FOR YOUR TESTS you will need only a pencil and an ID (UT or TDL). [You will NOT need a calculator.] Leave everything else at home, or put your coat, backpack, cell phone, all electronic devices, etc. in the front of the class room before taking a seat.  Your assigned seat will have your test, a Scantron answer sheet, a sheet of formulas, and scrap paper. 


9 a.m. class:  final on Saturday, May 14, 2016, 7-10 p.m.

10 a.m. class:  final on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 9 a.m.-noon.

GRADING: Semester grades will use the plus-minus grading scale.  Assignments given for evaluation and for practice (e.g., Math Review homework and Practice Tests) will not be counted in the calculation of the semester grades.
The contributions to the grade include:
  • Learning Modules [Quest] due 15 minutes before each class begins (4 drops) 5%
  • Class clicker quizzes [Quest] (4 drops) 8%
  • Class written work (1 drop) 2%
  • Homework [Quest ]  (2 drops) 8%
  • Discussion sessions (1 drop): 7%
  • Tests (4 tests, 1 drop) 34%
  • Written questions on Tests (4 tests, 1 drop) 2%
  • Final Exam 34%

TEST ABSENCES: If an evening test is missed, it will be the “dropped’ test, unless the absence is excused, e.g. documentation is provided  within one week attesting for example to a broken leg, pneumonia, car wreck,  jail term. For such an excused absence the final exam grade will be substituted for the missing test grade.


(1) Before class: Read the textbook assignment and the  Learning Module (answer questions in Quest) at least 15 minutes before class begins.

(2) Bring your i-Clicker to every class. It’s also helpful to bring your textbook.

(3)  Arrive for class in time to start promptly. Late arrivals and early departures are disruptive.

COACHING TABLES: Starting on Monday, February 1st, assistance with course material and homework will be provided by physics graduate students, 9-5 weekdays in RLM  near the elevators on the 5th floor (one floor up from ground level).

STUDY SESSIONS: You are encouraged to organize study groups. You can ask a teaching assistant to help you form a study session.  You can also reserve a Group Study Room on the web site

LABORATORY: The 103M lab is a separate course with a separate grade.