PHYS-470: Selected Topics in Physics: Historical Physics from a Modern Perspective
SYLLABUS - Fall 2011
Instructor:  Michael "Bodhi" Rogers
PHONE: 274-3963
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 2:00 pm-3:00 pm, Thursday 11:00 am-Noon, and by appointment.


There is no textbook for this course; instead I will be distributing PDFs of historical articles for you to read.

Web Page:

Class:   T, Thur: 4 pm - 5:15 pm, CNS 204

Course Philosophy: 
To learn physics you must do physics. Doing physics does not entail listening to me lecture for hours on end. Doing physics is thinking about and applying concepts, problem solving skills, and mathematical tools. This course will require you to be an active participant, which will result in a more enjoyable and rewarding course for you and me. Listening to someone talk about physics might be fun, but doing physics is definitely fun. PS ( You will have to listen to me talk some of the time, but I reserve these moments to help you better understand the physics.)
Course Policies: 
  • Students are expected to do all of the reading prior to attending class.

  • Students are expected to be active participants in class discussions.

  • Plus and minus grades are given only rarely and only when justified by special circumstances.

  • There are no make-up exams, no early or late exams.

  • Your final grade is FINAL; no work may be handed in for additional credit after the final exam.

  • I will hold special office hours during exam weeks.

  • Requests for regrading of assignments must be in writing and must specify exactly why additional credit is warranted. No requests for changing an assignment grade will be accepted more than 48 hours after an assignment is returned.

  • Please familiarize yourself with the Ithaca College Student Code of Conduct; specifically the Standards of Academic Conduct (

  • In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be provided.

  • Every student who is performing below a C will be asked to meet with the instructor to discuss their performance in an attempt to initiate a course of action that will increase performance to a C or better.

  • An incomplete grade is awarded only to allow missing work to be made up in cases of documented emergencies and only if all other work is satisfactory and only if advance arrangements have been made with the instructor about the work to be completed and the deadline for completing the missing work.

Homework:  Tackling homework problems is an essential part of learning physics. This is when you get to practice quantitative problem solving. Note that some of these homeworks may be different than the traditional set of exercise, but more like technical reports.

Exams:  This course has one final exam that will cover the entire course.

Topic Presentation : 

Each student will be asked to present on a topic we are studying. You will be graded for your presentation of a topic using a rating system of

0.0 pts: Not Prepared
1.0 pts: Somewhat Prepared
2.0 pts: Prepared
3.0 pts: You're a Rock Star

Class Participation : 

This course will use a mix of lecture, discussion, and problem solving. You will be expected to actively participate by doing the assigned reading and assignments before class so that you are prepared to actively participate during in class activities. During the course of the semester you will receive periodic updates from me about my evaluation of your class participation so that you can adjust your participation if necessary.

7 Homeworks

 10 pts each

= 70 pts
1 Topic Presentation  5 pts = 5 pts
1 Final Exam   15 pts = 15 pts
Class Participation   10 pts = 10 pts

Based on results from previous terms, it is expected that the final grade cut-offs will be approximately:
A : 90-100 B: 80-89 C: 70-79 D: 60-69 F: less than 59
Actual cut-offs this semester may be higher or lower than these.

Emergencies:  If at any point during the semester you have an emergency that interferes with your active participation in this course please let me know as soon as possible. If you let me know of problems before a due date I can often find a solution to satisfy both of us. Dealing with a problem after a due date is very difficult.

Pages written by Michael Rogers and updated on 01-SEP-2011 at the Ithaca College Physics Department in Ithaca, NY.