assignment Homework

Reduced Mass
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Using your favorite graphing package, make a plot of the reduced mass \begin{equation} \mu=\frac{m_1\, m_2}{m_1+m_2} \end{equation} as a function of \(m_1\) and \(m_2\). What about the shape of this graph tells you something about the physical world that you would like to remember. You should be able to find at least three things. Hint: Think limiting cases.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Lagrangian Mechanics Generalized Coordinates Special Cases

Students solve for the equations of motion of a box sliding down (frictionlessly) a wedge, which itself slides on a horizontal surface, in order to answer the question "how much time does it take for the box to slide a distance \(d\) down the wedge?". This activities highlights finding kinetic energies when the coordinate system is not orthonormal and checking special cases, functional behavior, and dimensions.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Field Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (7 years)

coulomb's law electric field charge ring symmetry integral power series superposition

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in groups of three to use Coulomb's Law \[\vec{E}(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})\left(\vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\right)}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert^3} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electric field, \(\vec{E}(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{E}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Projectile with Linear Drag
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Projectile Motion Drag Forces Newton's 2nd Law Separable Differential Equations

Students consider projectile motion of an object that experiences drag force that in linear with the velocity. Students consider the horizontal motion and the vertical motion separately. Students solve Newton's 2nd law as a differential equation.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Magnetic Field Due to a Spinning Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (6 years)

magnetic fields current Biot-Savart law vector field symmetry

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in groups of three to use the Biot-Savart law \[\vec{B}(\vec{r}) =\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}\int\frac{\vec{J}(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})\times \left(\vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\right)}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert^3} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the magnetic field, \(\vec{B}(\vec{r})\), due to a spinning ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{B}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Effective Potentials
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students use a pre-written Mathematica notebook or a Geogebra applet to explore how the shape of the effective potential function changes as the various parameters (angular momentum, force constant, reduced mass) are varied.

assignment Homework

Gravitational Field and Mass
Static Fields 2022 (4 years)

The gravitational field due to a spherical shell of matter (or equivalently, the electric field due to a spherical shell of charge) is given by: \begin{equation} \vec g = \begin{cases} 0&\textrm{for } r<a\\ -G \,\frac{M}{b^3-a^3}\, \left( r-\frac{a^3}{r^2}\right)\, \hat r & \textrm{for } a<r<b\\ -G\,\frac{M}{r^2}\, \hat r & \textrm{for } r>b \\ \end{cases} \end{equation}

This problem explores the consequences of the divergence theorem for this shell.

  1. Using the given description of the gravitational field, find the divergence of the gravitational field everywhere in space. You will need to divide this question up into three parts: \(r<a\), \(a<r<b\), and \(r>b\).
  2. Briefly discuss the physical meaning of the divergence in this particular example.
  3. For this gravitational field, verify the divergence theorem on a sphere, concentric with the shell, with radius \(Q\), where \(a<Q<b\). ("Verify" the divergence theorem means calculate the integrals from both sides of the divergence theorem and show that they give the same answer.)
  4. Briefly discuss how this example would change if you were discussing the electric field of a uniformly charged spherical shell.

assignment Homework

Helix

Integration Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

A helix with 17 turns has height \(H\) and radius \(R\). Charge is distributed on the helix so that the charge density increases like (i.e. proportional to) the square of the distance up the helix. At the bottom of the helix the linear charge density is \(0~\frac{\textrm{C}}{\textrm{m}}\). At the top of the helix, the linear charge density is \(13~\frac{\textrm{C}}{\textrm{m}}\). What is the total charge on the helix?

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (7 years)

electrostatic potential charge linear charge density taylor series power series scalar field superposition symmetry distance formula

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Warm-Up

Students work in groups of three to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electrostatic potential, \(V(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(V(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Magnetic Vector Potential Due to a Spinning Charged Ring
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

compare and contrast mathematica magnetic vector potential magnetic fields vector field symmetry

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in groups of three to use the superposition principle \[\vec{A}(\vec{r}) =\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}\int\frac{\vec{J}(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert}\, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the magnetic vector potential, \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\), due to a spinning ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

assignment Homework

Divergence through a Prism
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Consider the vector field \(\vec F=(x+2)\hat{x} +(z+2)\hat{z}\).

  1. Calculate the divergence of \(\vec F\).
  2. In which direction does the vector field \(\vec F\) point on the plane \(z=x\)? What is the value of \(\vec F\cdot \hat n\) on this plane where \(\hat n\) is the unit normal to the plane?
  3. Verify the divergence theorem for this vector field where the volume involved is drawn below. (“Verify” means calculate both sides of the divergence theorem, separately, for this example and show that they are the same.)

assignment Homework

Electric Field and Charge
divergence charge density Maxwell's equations electric field Static Fields 2022 (3 years) Consider the electric field \begin{equation} \vec E(r,\theta,\phi) = \begin{cases} 0&\textrm{for } r<a\\ \frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \,\frac{Q}{b^3-a^3}\, \left( r-\frac{a^3}{r^2}\right)\, \hat r & \textrm{for } a<r<b\\ 0 & \textrm{for } r>b \\ \end{cases} \end{equation}
  1. Use step and/or delta functions to write this electric field as a single expression valid everywhere in space.
  2. Find a formula for the charge density that creates this electric field.
  3. Interpret your formula for the charge density, i.e. explain briefly in words where the charge is.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Systems of Equations Compare and Contrast

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Divergence
Vector Calculus II 2022 (8 years) Students predict from graphs of simple 2-d vector fields whether the divergence is positive, negative, or zero in various regions of the domain using the definition of the divergence of a vector field at a point: The divergence of a vector field at a point is flux per unit volume through an infinitesimal box surrounding that point. Optionally, students can use a Mathematica notebook to verify their predictions.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Total Charge
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

charge charge density multiple integral scalar field coordinate systems differential elements curvilinear coordinates

Integration Sequence

In this small group activity, students integrate over non-uniform charge densities in cylindrical and spherical coordinates to calculate total charge.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Covariation in Thermal Systems

Thermo Multivariable Functions

Students consider how changing the volume of a system changes the internal energy of the system. Students use plastic graph models to explore these functions.

face Lecture

30 min.

Review of Thermal Physics
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

These are notes, essentially the equation sheet, from the final review session for Thermal and Statistical Physics.

assignment Homework

Distance Formula in Curvilinear Coordinates

Ring Cycle Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

The distance \(\left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert\) between the point \(\vec r\) and the point \(\vec r'\) is a coordinate-independent, physical and geometric quantity. But, in practice, you will need to know how to express this quantity in different coordinate systems.

  1. Find the distance \(\left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert\) between the point \(\vec r\) and the point \(\vec r'\) in rectangular coordinates.
  2. Show that this same distance written in cylindrical coordinates is: \begin{equation} \left|\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right| =\sqrt{s^2+s\,{}'^2-2ss\,{}'\cos(\phi-\phi\,{}') +(z-z\,{}')^2} \end{equation}
  3. Show that this same distance written in spherical coordinates is: \begin{equation} \left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert =\sqrt{r'^2+r\,{}^2-2rr\,{}' \left[\sin\theta\sin\theta\,{}'\cos(\phi-\phi\,{}') +\cos\theta\cos\theta\,{}'\right]} \end{equation}
  4. Now assume that \(\vec r\,{}'\) and \(\vec r\) are in the \(x\)-\(y\) plane. Simplify the previous two formulas.

face Lecture

120 min.

Ideal Gas
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

ideal gas particle in a box grand canonical ensemble chemical potential statistical mechanics

These notes from week 6 of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover the ideal gas from a grand canonical standpoint starting with the solutions to a particle in a three-dimensional box. They include a number of small group activities.