This course is usually named general Physics or fundamental Physics. The course is suggested to be provided in the whole freshmen year. It is either a 4- or 3-credit course and arranged in 2 semesters of the 1st year. The content of Physics 1 consists of Newtonian mechanics, energy, conservation, collision, rotation, equilibrium, fluid mechanics, oscillations, waves, and thermodynamics.
Physics 1 is arranged as 3 parts and 12 sections. Each section can be studied in one week. After learning for 4 sections, an examination can be arranged for students to review their studies. The arrangement of lectures is displayed in the following table with links to corresponding video courses.
This course begins with a review of mathematics. In the review, we will introduce calculus of differentiation and integration. Calculus is an essential technique. Following calculus, we will introduce simple concepts of differential equation. These mathematical methods will be practiced again and again from Lecture 1 to Lecture 6. The important idea of “force equation”, which is identical to a differential equation, will be frequently addressed when answering questions in Physics.
In Lectures 7 and 8, we will introduce another mathematical method – vector calculus. The subject of vector calculus will cover calculations of gradient, divergent, and curl operations.gradient: , divergent: , curl:
The gradient operation will be introduced in energy sections of Physics 1. The same method will be employed again in Physics 2 when we learn about electric potential and electric fields. The divergent and curl operations will be learned in Physics 2.
A collision between objects is always a fascinating phenomena and it will be solved using the principle of linear momentum conservation. The concepts of linear momentum and collisions will be learned in Lecture 9. We will not deal with complicated collisions in a three-dimensional (3D) space. We will only introduce the important roles of mass playing on one-dimensional (1D) collisions. A simple case of a two-dimensional (2D) collision will be demonstrated.
The rotational motion in Lectures 10 & 11 is a new concept for freshmen as well. It certainly is different from previous learning. There are three dimensions in linear motion and there are another three dimensions in rotational motions. In addition to the new concept of degrees of freedom, we will introduce the 3D integration to obtain the inertia of momentum of a 3D object. During the learning of 3D integration, the concept of orthogonal coordinates will be expressed. There are three orthogonal coordinates: Cartesian, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates. Due to the orthogonal feature, the variables are independent and partial differentiation can be implemented in the calculation.
The static equilibrium of an 3D object is described in Lecture 12 accompanied with the mechanical property – elasticity – of the material. Lecture 13 is skipped and Lecture 14 gives equations to describe motion of fluids. The mechanism of fluid motion finally coincides with the energy conservation theorem.
In Lecture 15, we will introduce the harmonic oscillation. It is an important topic and it utilizes the skill of solving a 2nd order differential equation. You will learn the behaviors of a free oscillation, a retarded oscillation, and a forced oscillation. The mechanism of oscillations will be readdress when students continue to learn alternative current (AC) circuit in Physics 2. The oscillation is followed by wave motions and a superposition principle in Lectures 16 and 17. The concepts of wave motion will emerge again in optics in Physics 2.
The last 4 lectures provide knowledge about thermodynamics. It starts from the background knowledge of temperature in Lecture 18. The image of temperature will be turned to energy of all atoms and molecules occupied in the space. The thermal equilibrium is similar to collisions in nano scale. Lecture 19 provides the basic knowledge of specific heat, mechanical-thermal energy conversio, and heat transfer. The mathematical methods used in solving heat transfer will reappear in the calculation of total capacitance and total resistance in Physics 2. In Lecture 20, we will be diverted to simple statistical physics. Several methods used in statistical physics will be presented. In addition, the real space and the corresponding momentum space will be explained. It is important to know that the two spaces coexist in our life. The same concept will be used in calculation of black body radiation in Physics 2. The last lecture, Lecture 21, will provides background ideas about heat engines and energy transfer in engines through a cyclic pressure-volume (PV) diagram.
The organization of Physics is almost the same for most textbooks. There are several well know commercial textbooks: Halliday’s Fundamentals of Physics and Serway’s Principles of Physics. In recent years, there are some open textbooks which are free and available on line. The content in the open textbook is almost the same as that in commercial textbooks. It is suggested to use University Physics offered by openstax. This series textbooks are University Physics Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3.
Learning physics can establish a rational thought route to solve most problems in real life. In the theme of Physics, you may learn to ask a question and to solve it by a methodical way. You can look into the core of the question and the object. This world is operating continuously according laws in Physics. The principles in Physics support most of evolution of surrounding things in life. The knowledge of Physics is especially useful when working in technology companies.