Syllabus for Roster(s):

  • 23Sp PHYS 3140-100 (CGAS)
  • 23Sp PHYS 3140-101 (CGAS)
  • 23Sp PHYS 3140-102 (CGAS)
  • 23Sp PHYS 3140-103 (CGAS)
  • 23Sp PHYS 3140-104 (CGAS)
In the UVaCollab course site:   PHYS 3140-Spring2023


Physics is firmly rooted in experiments.  Physical theories (Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, etc.) might be regarded as extremely convenient and useful summaries (usually stated in mathematical form) of experience gained through observation and experiment. However, theory serves in another role more profound than simply summarizing. Once a pattern is recognized in the results of various experiments and a general law is formulated, the theory can be used to predict the outcome of experiments which have not yet been performed. In this role the theory then forms the basis for our understanding of the physical universe and for engineering and technology. Although the theories may be stated in terms of abstract mathematical concepts, ultimately all physics is concerned with observable and measurable quantities.

Some objectives of this course:

  • To introduce you to some techniques for making and analyzing physical measurements, and for assessing errors that limit the accuracy and precision of the measurements
  • To demonstrate some important general concepts in relatively simple experimental guises (e.g. the oscillations of an LCR circuit exhibit general features that have direct analogs in many fields of physics including mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics)
  • To demonstrate some important phenomena from various fields of physics
  • To help you develop a more intuitive and deeper understanding of physics
  • To have you experience some of the enjoyment, and also some of the challenges of experimental physics

Much of this course will be devoted to studying electric and magnetic fields, electric circuits and electronic measurements. Because of the ease, speed and precision of electrical measurements, in modern physics labs nearly all physical quantities (even ones not inherently electrical - e.g. displacement, time, force, pressure, temperature) are converted to voltages or currents with devices called “sensors” or “transducers”. These electrical quantities are then measured with electronic instruments or coupled through electronic interfaces to computers for rapid and efficient data acquisition. Many of your experiments will involve the use of computers for data acquisition and analysis.