With the help of instrumentation and personal computers provided through an NSF Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement grant, we are continuing the development of a new version of PHY 291-293 in concert with the revised first-year Introductory University Physics course. In that course you already have received an introduction to some of the fundamental ideas used in twentieth-century physics, including quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and relativity. Our objective for this term is to develop and apply those ideas to gain a much more in depth understanding of breakthroughs that have occurred in physics research within your own lifetime.
In order to appreciate the significance of the new results, we need some more physics "language". Thus much of the Contemporary Physics course will be devoted to studying and, in the laboratory, getting a feel for ideas in quantum mechanics, atomic and solid state physics, and nuclear and particle physics. But the ideas presented are chosen with the goal of understanding specific recent research results. The research results on which we'll focus are
The scanning tunneling microscope
High-temperature superconductivity, and
The "standard model" of elementary particle physics.
The first two were the Nobel prize winners of 1986 and 1987, and results leading to the development of the "standard model" have garnered several Nobel prizes in the past two decades.
We are designing the PHY 293 lab to complement coverage in the PHY 291 lectures. Sometimes youıll meet a new concept first in the lecture, and sometimes in the lab. The familiarity you gain in the first meeting will help you understand better in the second meeting! At the suggestion of many students, we increased the credit for PHY 293 to 2 hours and added a weekly Wednesday morning meeting to present background material and to free more time for you to work in the lab -- to help you know whatıs expected from you, let's establish some "ground rules".
Physics 293 is a Miami Plan course, and as such it adheres to the four tenets of the Miami Plan. These basic elements are (1) Engaging with other learners, (2) Critical thinking, (3) Understanding contexts, and (4) Reflecting and acting. The way in which they apply to Phy 293 is as follows.
Engaging with Other Learners: As part of this laboratory course, you will work in groups of 2 or 3 and are constantly engaged in disussion with each other as you acquire data, analyze it, and consider its significance.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is essential for designing, running, and analyzing the results for each experiment. You must consider how various procedures, instruments, and other components effect the outcome of your experiments. You have to decide if your results make sense and how the data would vary if one changed a particular aspect of the experiment.
Understanding Contexts: The significance of each lab is presented in the separate pre-lab lecture in terms of the overall historical and present day context. In addition, pre-lab questions often center on how a lab fits into the more in-depth understanding of the 3 main focus experiments at the end of each section. For instance, wave/particle duality, its history, and its implications to the field of quantum mechanics are integral to understanding the STM.
Reflecting and Acting: At the end of each lab are a series of questions which lead you to reflect on what you have accomplished in that lab and how it relates to previous experiments. Youare asked to commpare and contrast different concepts with the goal of a more global understanding or your work.
Each student is scheduled for the Wednesday morning meeting and one two-hour lab session per week; some experiments require two sessions. Students are required to attend all Wednesday morning meetings and all scheduled lab sessions. Students unable to attend must make prior arrangements with the instructor. Labs are made up during the same week by attending another section. Excepting extended illness and crisis situations, there will be no makeup of a lab other than during the scheduled week.
Descriptions of the PHY 293 lab experiments are provided in the Contemporary Physics Laboratory Manual. You must read the description of each experiment prior to coming to the lab to conduct it. In addition, you will be given a few questions to answer in advance of the lab. These pre-lab questions are designed to introduce you to the ideas and concepts you will encounter in the experiments described in the laboratory manual.
Communicating your experimental procedure and your results in writing is an essential skill that you will practice during this class. To be able to write a good report, it is important to record your work in the lab in a systematic way. For data, which you record by hand, itıs good to develop the habit of recording the data in a bound notebook. If data are recorded by computer, either through an interfaced detector or as a simulation, you should obtain a printout or a screen dump of graphics. Your written report is to summarize your work in the lab and present the results in clear form emphasizing their significance.
There will be 2 types of lab write-ups required for this course - a full report and an brief report - approximately half of each. Your reports are not expected to be long. We're not aiming for masterıs theses here, but they should adopt one of the following 2 standard formats:
1. Title Page Title of experiment, your name and the name(s) of your lab partner(s), and an abstract giving a brief (less than 100 words) summary of the experiment and the result
2. Introduction This part contains a general introduction to the topic. You should explain the significance of the experimental problem and put it in context. Include a summary of pertinent theoretical background as well as a brief explanation of mathematical relations you might be using.
3. Experimental Procedure A brief description or outline of experimental steps and techniques used, citing major items of equipment. Diagrams of experimental set-ups are very helpful for some experiments.
4. Results Presentation of your experimental data and results in a way that helps the reader understand. Most of the time you will present data in form of a graph or a table. When the result is in form of a spectrum, a copy or computer printout should be included. You are expected to provide and justify an estimate of experimental uncertainty ("error bars") in your results.
5. Discussion Includes an explanation of your interpretation and a discussion of the significance of the results. In the lab manual under the heading For Your Report (found in each lab experiment), you will find a list of important points and questions that must be answered and discussed for the report to be complete.
1. Title Page* Title of experiment, your name and the name(s) of your lab partner(s).
2. Results* Any pertinent lab set-up diagrams. Presentation of your experimental data and results in a way that helps the reader understand what you did. Most of the time you will present data in form of a graph or a table. When the result is in form of a spectrum, a copy or computer printout should be included. You are expected to provide and justify an estimate of experimental uncertainty ("error bars") in your results.
3. Discussion Includes an explanation of your interpretation and a discussion of the significance of the results. In the lab manual under the heading For Your Report (found in each lab experiment), you will find a list of important points and questions that must be answered and discussed for the report to be complete.
*Note: Slightly altered from full report sections.
The ability to communicate in a written form is essential for a successful career; therefore you should strive to organize your data, results, and lab reports with this in mind. Watch your grammar and spelling.
The format specified above is just the basic format of a professional physics paper. Each journal imposes some additional detailed requirements, and so will we.
(i) You should make clear how you get your results from your data. A sample calculation should be included. If you write a program or spreadsheet for analyzing the data, include a copy. (For the spreadsheet, show not just the contents of the cells but also how the contents are computed.)
(ii) If you record data which are combined in calculating results, both the original data and the final results should include a quantitative estimate of the uncertainty ("error bars"; see Appendix A in your lab manual). Explain how you obtained your estimate of the value of the uncertainty. As you record data, estimate the precision of each experimental measurement and write it down with the data. If you perform a calculation using measured quantities, show how the experimental errors propagate through your calculation.
(iii) Important points for numerical results:
Do NOT forget units. Label all tables and graphs with units.
Be careful with unit conversions!
In reporting your numerical results, use the proper number of significant figures.
(iv) A simple diagram of the apparatus used is helpful in describing it.
(v) You must type each report in order to make your report look as professional as possible. Number each page, and leave wide margins so your grader can make suggestions. Pre-lab questions often require calculations, drawings or diagrams and do not need to be typed. HOWEVER, they will not be graded if they are illegible.
You will prepare the lab reports for each experiment. All reports will be due at the beginning of the lab period one week following the completion of an experiment. Important factors include completeness, valid conclusions from your data, independent write-up, and readability. Reports will be returned at the following lab session.
No extensions of a lab reportıs due date will be granted unless a valid excuse for lateness is given prior to the due date. Late reports incur a penalty of one letter grade. Reports more than one day late will not be accepted and will be assigned a grade of zero. A score of zero on each of two lab reports will result in an Incomplete grade for the course.
Each week you will be assigned several pre-lab questions which can be answered after reading the lab with some additional research and careful thinking (remember you may find that your textbooks from last year and this are useful references). The answers to the pre-lab questions will be collected the week of the particular lab with which they are associated i.e. on either Tuesday afternoon (before the lab for Tuesday lab people) or on Wednesday morning at the pre-lab lecture (for the rest of the lab people).
The final grade is based on 12 lab reports and the answers to the pre-lab questions. There are 8 ABBREVIATED reports (75 pts each) and 4 FULL reports (125 pts each). A maximum of 5% of score will be given for style/grammar, etc. In addition, the write-ups for the Pre-Lab Questions will be worth 25 pts each. These total to 1400 points in the following manner:
4 Full Write-ups 25 pts. pre-labQs 125 pts. final draft 150 pts total
8 Half Write-ups 25 pts. pre-labQs 75 pts. results/discussion 100 pts total
Total Points for Semester 1400 points
The guaranteed grading scale is 90% for an A, 80% for a B, 70% for a C, and 60% for a D. Below 60% is an F. If you have questions about grading, you're invited to ask one of the professors in charge.
Your lab reports will be graded and available for you to pick up the week after you have turned it in. Final reports will be available during finals week.