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Activities

Students move their left arm in a circle to trace out the complex plane (Argand diagram). They then explore the rectangular and exponential representations of complex numbers by using their left arm to show given complex numbers on the complex plane. Finally they enact multiplication of complex numbers in exponential form and complex conjugation.
Students use their arms to act out two spin-1/2 quantum states and their inner product.
This mini-lecture demonstrates the relationship between \(df\) on the tangent plane to its “components“ in coordinate directions, leading to the multivariable chain rule.
Find the upward pointing flux of the vector field \(\boldsymbol{\vec{H}}=2z\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} +\frac{1}{x^2+1}\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}+(3+2z)\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\) through the rectangle \(R\) with one edge along the \(y\) axis and the other in the \(xz\)-plane along the line \(z=x\), with \(0\le y\le2\) and \(0\le x\le3\).
  • Found in: AIMS Maxwell, Static Fields, Problem-Solving course(s)

Small Group Activity

5 min.

Fourier Transform of a Plane Wave

Find the Fourier transform of a plane wave.

Instructor's Guide

Introduction

If students know about the Dirac delta function and its exponential representation, this is a great second example of the Fourier transform that students can work out in-class for themselves.

Students will need a short lecture giving the definition of the Fourier Transform \begin{equation} {\cal{F}}(f) =\tilde{f} (k)= \frac{1}{\sqrt{2\pi}} \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} e^{-ikx}\, f(x)\, dx \end{equation}

Student Conversations

Students may ask what is meant by a plane wave. Help them figure out what is meant, from the context or give them the formula if time is tight.

Keep the time dependence in or leave it out depending on how much time you have to deal with a little extra algebraic confusion.

Wrap-up

This example is (almost) the inverse of Fourier Transform of the Delta Function. If you really want the inverse problem, change the prompt to “Find the inverse Fourier transform of a plane wave.”
  • Found in: Periodic Systems course(s) Found in: Fourier Transforms and Wave Packets sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

5 min.

Constant Lines in the \(u\), \(v\)-Plane

Students are asked to draw lines of constant \(u\) and \(v\) in a \(u,v\) coordinate system. Then, in the same coordinate system, students must draw lines of constant \(x\) and constant \(y\) when

\[x(u,v)=u \] and \[y(u,v)=\frac{1}{2}u+3v. \]

Small Group Activity

60 min.

Visualizing Plane Waves

Each small group of 3-4 students is given a white board or piece of paper with a square grid of points on it.

Each group is given a different two-dimensional vector \(\vec{k}\) and is asked to calculate the value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec {r}\) for each point on the grid and to draw the set of points with constant value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec{r}\) using rainbow colors to indicate increasing value.

Students, working in pairs, represent two component complex vectors with their left arms. Through a short series of instructor led prompts, students move their left arms to show how various linear transformations affect each complex component.

Find the rectangular coordinates of the point where the angle \(\frac{5\pi}{3}\) meets the unit circle. If this were a point in the complex plane, what would be the rectangular and exponential forms of the complex number? (See figure.)

For each of the following complex numbers, determine the complex conjugate, square, and norm. Then, plot and clearly label each \(z\), \(z^*\), and \(|z|\) on an Argand diagram.

  1. \(z_1=4i-3\)
  2. \(z_2=5e^{-i\pi/3}\)
  3. \(z_3=-8\)
  4. In a few full sentences, explain the geometric meaning of the complex conjugate and norm.

Fill out the table below that asks you to do several simple complex number calculations in rectangular, polar, and exponential representations.

Problem

5 min.

Phase in Quantum States

In quantum mechanics, it turns out that the overall phase for a state does not have any physical significance. Therefore, you will need to become quick at rearranging the phase of various states. For each of the vectors listed below, rewrite the vector as an overall complex phase times a new vector whose first component is real and positive. \[\left|D\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 7e^{i\frac{\pi}{6}}\\ 3e^{i\frac{\pi}{2}}\\ -1\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|E\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} i\\ 4\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|F\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 2+2i\\ 3-4i\\ \end{pmatrix} \]

Students, working in pairs, use the Arms representations to represent states of spin 1/2 system. Through a short series of instructor-led prompts, students explore the difference between overall phase (which does NOT distinguish quantum states) and relative phase (which does distinguish quantum states).

Kinesthetic

10 min.

Spin 1/2 with Arms
Students, working in pairs, use their left arms to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin 1/2 system. Reinforces the idea that quantum states are complex valued vectors. Students make connections between Dirac, matrix, and Arms representation.

Students work in small groups 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.

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) = \frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\sum_i \frac{q_i}{\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}_i\vert}\] to find the electrostatic potential \(V\) everywhere in space due to a pair of charges (either identical charges or a dipole). Different groups are assigned different arrangements of charges and different regions of space to consider: either on the axis of the charges or in the plane equidistant from the two charges, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Each group is asked to find a power series expansion for the electrostatic potential, valid in their group's assigned region of space. The whole class wrap-up discussion then compares and contrasts the results and discuss the symmetries of the two cases.

Small Group Activity

120 min.

Equipotential Surfaces
Students are prompted to consider the scalar superposition of the electric potential due to multiple point charges. First a single point charge is discussed, then four positive charges, then an electric quadrupole. Students draw the equipotential curves in the plane of the charges, while also considering the 3D nature of equipotentials.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Field Due to a Ring of Charge

Students work in small groups 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.

Small Group Activity

60 min.

Multivariable Pictionary
Students draw the 3D graphs of equations using three variables. They make choices for drawing a stack of curves in parallel planes and a curve in a perpendicular plane (e.g. substituting in values for \(x\), \(y\), or \(z\). )

Students work in small groups 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.

Students work in small groups 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.