PHYS 113: Contemporary Physics I

Welcome to Contemporary Physics I. This is a fairly unusual introductory Physics class. We will cover everything from relativity to classical mechanics to the Standard Model of Particle physics (although not in that order). We'll do programming, pen-and-paper problems, and lots of thought experiments. Please ask lots of questions, and by all means get in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns.
[Syllabus] (version 9/12/19)
[Course Information] [Announcements] [Material and Links]

Course Information

A complete discussion of course policies can be found in the syllabus.

Prof. Dave Goldberg (
Office: Disque Hall Room 810
Phone: x2715
Office Hours: M 1-2, Th 11-12.
or by appointment in advance

Teaching Assistant:
Ms. Virginia Price (
Office: Disque Hall, Room 916
Office Hours: T 1-2, F 1-2 (held in Disque 704).

Mr. Zeyuan "Klein" Wang(

MWF 10-11, Randell Hall, Room 329
W2-4 (Sec. 1), W4-6 (Sec. 2).
Disque 704.

Matter and Interaction by Chabay and Sherwood, 4th Edition.
[via Amazon]
(The book is also available in 2 separate volumes and digitally)
We will only be using the first volume this term, but I strongly recommend getting both at once or the single volume version, and doing so as cheaply as possible. Both volumes will be needed for the 3 term sequence.

Additional Help
Besides the course staff, this year we have two Physics Fellows, Tara Feenan, and Zev Imani.


Materials and Links

Administrative Policies and Such

Intro to Programming
  • LightBot -- a fun and simple grapphical programming interface in which you make a robot solve a series of puzzles.
  • Scratch -- A slightly more sophisticated (but still graphical) h object-oriented environments in which you can animate "sprites."
Shell Programming and Python Some more environments and languages Physics and Math Homework Assignments

You will typically have 3-4 classes (1-1 1/2 weeks) to complete homeworks, and the due date will be made very clear. A 10% penalty will be given for each day of lateness. The lowest homework will be dropped from your final average.

Recitation Assignments

Assignments will be distributed during recitation sections and will be due via the submission form (below) 1 week after they are distributed:

The first 30 minutes to an hour of recitation sections will be devoted to homework and concept discussion. You are not to work on your recitation assignments during the theoretical discussion.

Virginia has also prepared a rubric for the recitation assignments. Please read it so you'll understand what we expect and how grades are evaluated.