College Physics by Eugenia Etkina
To the student
College Physics is more than just a book. It’s a learning companion. As a companion, the book won’t just tell you about physics; it will act as a guide to help you build physics ideas using methods similar to those that practicing scientists use to construct knowledge. The ideas that you build will be yours, not just a copy of someone else’s ideas. As a result, the ideas of physics will be much easier for you to use when you need them: to succeed in your physics course, to obtain a good score on exams such as the MCAT, and to apply to everyday life.
Although few, if any, textbooks can honestly claim to be a pleasure to read, College Physics is designed to make the process interesting and engaging. The physics you learn in this book will help you understand many realworld phenomena, from why giant cruise ships are able to float to how telescopes work.
A great deal of research has been done over the past few decades on how students learn. We, as teachers and researchers, have been active participants in investigating the challenges students face in learning physics. We’ve developed unique strategies that have proven effective in helping students think like physicists. These strategies are grounded in active learning, deliberate, purposeful action on your part to learn something new. It’s not passively memorizing so that you can repeat it later. When you learn actively you engage with the material. You relate it to what you already know. You think about it in as many different ways as you can. You ask yourself questions such as “Why does this make sense?” and “Under what circumstances does this not apply?”
This book (your learning companion) includes many tools to support the active learning process: each problemsolving strategies tool, worked example, observational experiment, testing experiment, review question, and end-of-chapter question and problem is designed to help you build your understanding of physics. To get the most out of these tools and the course, stay actively engaged in the process of developing ideas and applying them. When things get challenging, don’t give up.
At this point you should turn to the chapter Introducing Physics and begin reading. That’s where you’ll learn the details of the approach that the book uses, what physics is, and how to be successful in the physics course you are taking.
To the instructor
In writing College Physics, our main goal was to produce an effective learning companion for students that incorporates results from the last few decades of physics education research. This research has shown that there is a dramatic difference between how physicists construct new ideas and how students traditionally learn physics. Students often leave their physics course thinking of physics as a disconnected set of facts that has little to do with the real world, rather than as a framework for understanding it.
To address this problem we have based this book on a framework known as ISLE (Investigative Science Learning Environment) developed by authors Etkina and Van Heuvelen. In ISLE, the construction of new ideas begins with observational experiments. Students are explicitly presented with simple experiments from which they discern patterns using available tools (diagrams, graphs, bar charts, etc.). To explain the patterns, students devise explanations (hypotheses) for their observations. They then use these explanations in testing experiments to make predictions about the outcomes of these new experiments. If the prediction does not match the outcome of the experiment, the explanation needs to be reevaluated. Explanations that survive this testing process are the physics ideas in which we then have more confidence.
The goal of this approach is to help students understand physics as a process by which knowledge of the natural world is constructed, rather than as a body of given laws and facts. This approach also helps students reason using the tools that physicists and physics educators have developed for the analysis of phenomena—for example, motion and force diagrams, kinematics and thermodynamics graphs, energy and momentum bar charts, and many other visual representations. Using these tools helps students bridge the gap between words and mathematical equations. Along the way, they develop independent and critical thinking skills that will allow them to build their own understanding of physics principles.
All aspects of College Physics are grounded in ISLE and physics education research. As a result, all of the features of the text have been designed to encourage students to investigate, test ideas, and apply scientific reasoning.
Key learning principles
To achieve these goals we adhere to five key learning principles:
1. Concept first, name second: The names we use for physics concepts have everyday-life meanings that may differ from the meanings they have when used in physics. For example, in physics flux refers to the amount to which a directed quantity (such as the magnetic field) points through a surface, but in everyday-life flux refers to continuous change. Confu sion over the meaning of terms can get in the way of learning. We address this difficulty by developing the concept first and only then assigning a name to it.
2. Careful language: The vernacular physicists use is rooted in history and tradition. While physicists have an internal “dictionary” that lets them understand the meaning of specific terms, students do not. We are extremely careful to use language that promotes understanding. For example: physicists would say that “heat flows from a hot object to a cool object.” Heat isn’t a substance that objects possess; heat is the flow of energy. In this book we only use the word heat to refer to the process of energy transfer.
3. Bridging words and mathematics: Words and mathematics are very abstract representations of physical phenomena. We help students translate between these abstractions by using concrete representations such as force diagrams and energy bar charts as intermediate steps.
4. Making sense of mathematics: We explicitly teach students how to evaluate the results of their quantitative reasoning so they can have confidence in that reasoning. We do this by building qualitative understanding first and then explicitly teaching students how to use that understanding to check for quantitative consistency. We also guide students to use limiting cases to evaluate their results.
5. Moving away from plug-and-chug problem solving approaches: In this book you will find many non-traditional examples and end-of-chapter problems that require students to use higher-level reasoning skills and not just plug numbers into equations that have little meaning for them. Jeopardy problems (where a solution is given and students must invent
a problem that leads to it), “tell-all” problems (where students must determine everything possible), and estimation problems (where students do not have quantities given to them) are all designed to encourage higher reasoning and problem solving skills.
These key principles are described in greater detail in the Introduction to the Instructor’s Guide that accompanies College Physics—please read that introduction. It elaborates on the implementation of the methodology that we use in this book and provides guidance on how to integrate the approach into your course.
While our philosophy informs College Physics, you need not fully subscribe to it to use this textbook. We’ve organized the book to fit the structure of most algebrabased physics courses: We begin with kinematics and Newton’s laws, then move on to conserved quantities, statics, gases, fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, vibrations and waves, optics, and finally modern physics. The structure of each chapter will work with any method of instruction. You can assign all of the innovative experimental tables and end-of-chapter problems, or only a few. The text provides thorough treatment of fundamental principles, supplementing this coverage with experimental evidence, new representations, an effective oach to problem solving, and interesting and motivating examples.
I. Introducing Physics xxxiii
Part 1 Mechanics
1 Kinematics: Motion in One Dimension 2
2 Newtonian Mechanics 43
3 Applying Newton’s Laws 82
4 Circular Motion 120
5 Impulse and Linear Momentum 151
6 Work and Energy 184
7 Extended Bodies at Rest 229
8 Rotational Motion 274
Part 2 Gases and Liquids
9 Gases 318
10 Static Fluids 358
11 Fluids in Motion 390
Part 3 Thermodynamics
12 First Law of Thermodynamics 420
13 Second Law of Thermodynamics 461
Part 4 Electricity and Magnetism
14 Electric Charge, Force, and Energy 491
15 The Electric Field 531
16 DC Circuits 575
17 Magnetism 620
18 Electromagnetic Induction 661
Part 5 Vibrations and Wave s
19 Vibrational Motion 695
20 Mechanical Waves 734
21 Reflection and Refraction 775
22 Mirrors and Lenses 809
23 Wave Optics 851
24 Electromagnetic Waves 890
Part 6 Modern Physics
25 Special Relativity 922
26 Quantum Optics 959
27 Atomic Physics 997
28 Nuclear Physics 1041
29 Particle Physics 108
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