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Fall 2015

General Information

Ryan Patterson
339 Lauritsen, ext. 5753, rbpatter[at]

Lectures are on Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:00 - 11:55 am, in 201 E. Bridge

Course Secretary
Elsa Echegaray
110 East Bridge, ext. 4633

Head TA: Murat Kologlu, ext. 6680

Web Page
Course information such as assignments, quizzes, exams, review sessions, instructors, etc., is available at:

The Course Schedule is available at:


Check here for announcements throughout the term

Section Changes

The recitation sections meet on Mondays and Thursdays, starting Monday 9/28. You are encouraged to find a recitation section that is both enjoyable and beneficial. If you decide to change sections, first get the signature of the instructor of the new section on your yellow card. Then get the course secretary to sign the drop column of the yellow card. Room assignments are sometimes changed by the instructors. Check the Section Instructors tab above for up-to-date information.


The required textbook for this course is Frautschi et al., The Mechanical Universe, Advanced Edition. Required reading and homework problems will be assigned from this book. The Feynman Lectures Volumes I & II are recommended but not required.

Homework Assignments

Homeworks will generally be due on Wednesday by 4 PM. Please use the box for your section, located just outside the lecture hall, 201 E. Bridge. Homework will be accepted starting from the afternoon before it is due until 4PM on the due date. Each HW should be labeled with the student’s name and section number. For prompt and accurate grading, please follow the guidelines for writing your homeworks and quizzes. Graded HW will be returned on the following Thursday in Recitation. Late HW will be accepted up to one week late for half-credit, and should be turned in to the box labeled LATE HOMEWORK, located in the mailbox area on the first floor of E. Bridge. If there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness), you may request an extension from your TA. If granted, please ask your TA to write a note on your HW before turning it in. Solutions to the HW will be made available on the course web site.

The HW you hand in must be your own and not copied from others or from the blackboard in Recitation. You are encouraged to work on the problems with others and to seek additional help if you find that useful, but the write-up must be your own. Also, you may not consult any prepared solutions for the problems, whether they are this year's or from previous years, or from Caltech or external sources. As a guideline for the collaboration policy, you should be able to reproduce any solution you hand in without help from anyone else. It is possible to achieve high scores on the HW but still fail the quizzes and the final exam. This indicates poor adherence to the collaboration policy: the object of the HW problems and the collaboration policy is to help you learn the material.

The problems QP1-QP53 are from previous quizzes and FP1-FP23 are from previous final exams. These are found on the course web site. They are intended to help you prepare for the level of difficulty you will encounter on the quizzes and on the final. Homework problems given as chapter and problem numbers (e.g., 3.10) come from the textbook.

You are certainly welcome to work through extra problems other than those assigned to gain more practice. Your TA can assist you in selecting problems.


Quizzes will be due on four Mondays throughout the term: October 12, October 26, November 9, November 23. The completed problems should be STAPLED TOGETHER and turned in at the locked box outside 201 E. Bridge. This means you need to have a STAPLER, or a good supply of BLUE BOOKS. The quiz should be labeled with the student’s name, UID number, and section number. The quizzes will generally cover the material from the previous two weeks. The quizzes will be distributed on the preceding Wednesday at lecture. The quizzes must be worked independently without collaboration.


There will be a final exam covering the entire term. The final will be handed out on Wednesday, December 2, at lecture, and will be due at noon on Wednesday, December 9. There will be no midterm exam.


Your grade for the course will be determined by your performance on the final exam (40%), quizzes (40%), and homework (20%). Your attendance and performance in Recitation and your general level of effort may be used as a basis for extra credit according to the judgement of your instructor.


We would like have one ombudsperson from each House. Please feel free to volunteer yourself. Those chosen should notify the course secretary of their identities and email addresses.

Placement Exam

The summer before coming to Caltech, you received a physics placement exam. Your score on the exam was used to place you in one of the ten recitation sections of Ph1a. There are three different types of Ph1a sections:

  • Sections 1 & 2: These sections are designed for students who were exposed to less physics in high school than is the norm. These sections provide extra review of basic physics, in order to bring everyone up to speed by the end of the term.

  • Sections 3-8: These are typical sections.

  • Sections 9 & 10: These are advanced sections for students who have already seen a lot of physics. They cover the material in more depth, and may include some additional special topics.

Other Physics Courses

Please visit to find information on other physics courses available to freshmen.


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