Physics 106bc
Winter and Spring Quarter, 2015
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From the course catalog:
An intermediate course in the application of basic principles of classical physics to a wide variety of subjects. Roughly half of the year will be devoted to mechanics, and half to electromagnetism. Topics include Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics, small oscillations and normal modes, boundary-value problems, multipole expansions, and various applications of electromagnetic theory.
Ph106bc covers electrodynamics at a level of sophistication beyond the introductory Ph1bc sequence.  You will see much material that is familiar to you, but we will take a more rigorous approach, analyze more challenging physical situations, and also consider many topics not seen in Ph1bc.  It is impossible to emphasize how important the core physics courses Ph106 and Ph125 are: these teach you the basic frameworks and techniques that you must know to do any physics.

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Syllabus and Schedule, Problem Sets, and Solutions

Below you will find the outline of the E&M portion of Ph106bc.  I will update the details of the topics covered in lectures, suggested reading, problem sets, and solutions as the term progresses. Assignments will be available on the website about a week before the due date. Note that they are listed in the week they are due, rather than the week they are assigned. The schedule for the lectures and assignments may change as the term progresses.

The lecture notes, problem sets, and solutions are only accessible to computers with a Caltech IP address (either direct or by VPN). Please let me know if you are enrolled in the class and this causes problems for you, and we can make other arrangements.

Targets for the links below will not be present until they are needed.  If you find a broken link, try refreshing your browser first.  If the target is still not present, email me.

In the suggested reading, G stands for Introduction to Electrodynamics by Griffiths, LN for Lecture Notes, HM stands for Classical Electromagnetism by Heald and Marion, and J for Classical Elecrodynamics by Jackson.  Reading given in parentheses is optional (intended only to tell you where I am drawing material from).

Week Tuesday Lecture Thursday Lecture
(due Friday 4 pm)
February 2

1. Electric Field, Gauss's Law, Dirac Delta Function, Curl E = 0
Reading: G §2.1-2.2, LN §2.1-2.5 

No Assignment
Review G Ch 1
February 9
2. Boundary Conditions, Electric Potential, Electric Potential Energy, Conductors
Reading: G §2.3-2.5, LN §2.6-2.9 
3. Conductors (cont.), Capacitance, Laplace's Equation
(makeup lecture 2/14 12:00 in 107 Downs)
Reading: G §2.5, 3.1.1-3.1.4, LN §2.9, 3.1
(J §1.11)

Assignment 5
(TA: Enrico)
February 16
4. Uniqueness Theorem, Method of Images, Green Functions
Reading: G §3.1.5-3.1.6, §3.2, LN §3.2-3.4
(J §1.8-1.9, §2.1-2.4, §1.10)
5. Obtaining Green Functions from the Method of Images,
Separation of Variables in Cartesian Coordinates
Separation of Variables in Spherical Coordinates, General Theory
Reading: G §3.3, LN §3.6-3.8
(J §2.6, 2.8-2.9, 3.1-3.2)

Assignment 6
Solutions (complete, posted 2015/02/28 09:00)
(TA: Alex)
February 23
6. Separation of Variables in Spherical Coordinates w/Azimuthal Symmetry,
Separation of Variables in Spherical Coordinates w/o Azimuthal Symmetry
Reading: G§3.3.2, LN §3.9-3.10
(J §3.3, 3.5-3.6)
Summary slides for lectures 3-6
7. Separation of Variables in Spherical Coordinates w/o Azimuthal Symmetry: Spherical Harmonic Expansion of Green Function
Reading: LN §3.10
(J §3.9, 3.10)

Assignment 7
(v 2 posted 2015/02/26 6:00)
(TA: Hsiao-Yi)
March 2
8. Multipole Expansion,
Electric Fields in Matter I

Reading: G §3.4, 4.1-4.3, LN §3.11, 4.1-4.2
(J §4.1-4.3)
9. Electric Fields in Matter II
Reading: G §4.4, LN §4.3-4.5
(J §4.4-4.7)

Assignment 8
(TA: Enrico)
March 9
10. Review and Example Final Problem Session (Enrico)
2014 final exam problems and solutions
2013 final exam problems and solutions
No Lecture
(OH 10:30-12:00)

Assignment 9
(version 2 2015/03/09 13:00)
Due W Mar 11
(version 2 2015/03/16 06:30)
(TA: Alex)
March 16
No Lecture
OH by appt
No Lecture
OH by appt

(first two pages are instructions)
(version 2 2015/04/04 06:00)
Due W Mar 18
(TA: Hsiao-Yi, Golwala)

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Tuesday Lecture Thursday Lecture Homework
(due Friday 4 pm)
March 30
1. Magnetostatics
Reading: G §5.1-5.4.1, LN §5.1-5.5
2. Magnetostatics (cont.)
Reading: G §5.4.2-5.4.3, LN §5.6-5.7

No assignment due
April 6
3. Magnetic Fields in Matter
Reading: G §6.1-6.4, LN §6.1-6.3
4. Magnetic Fields in Matter (cont.)
Reading: LN §6.4 (J §5.9-5.12)
Assignment 1
(TA: Alex)
April 13
5. Currents and Ohm's Law, Electromotive Forces, Electromagnetic Induction
Reading: G §7.1, LN §7.1-7.2
6. Faraday's Law, Electric Fields in Charge-Free Regions, Inductance, Magnetic Energy and Forces
Reading: G §7.2, LN §7.3-7.5(J §5.16)
Assignment 2
(TA: Thom)
April 20
7. Magnetic Energy and Forces (cont.),
Maxwell's Equations
, Conservation Laws

Reading: G §7.3, §8.1-8.2, LN §7.6-7.7, §8.1-8.4
8. Electromagnetic Waves in Vacuum,
EM Waves in Nonconducting Matter
Reading: G §9.1-9.3.1, LN §9.1-9.2
Assignment 3
(version 2 2015/04/23 18:00)
(TA: Alex)
April 27
9.  EM Waves in Nonconducting Matter: Reflection and Refraction
Reading: G §9.3.2-9.3.3, LN §9.2
10. EM Waves in Conductors
EM Waves in Dispersive Matter
Reading: G §9.4, LN §9.3-9.4
2014 midterm exam problems and solutions
2013 midterm exam problems (mistitled) and solutions

(first page is cover sheet)
(TA: Feng and Thom)
May 4
11. EM Waves in Dispersive Matter (cont.)
Confined Waves: Transmission Lines
Reading: G §9.4-9.5, LN §9.4-9.5
12. Confined Waves: Transmission Lines (cont.)
Confined Waves: Waveguides
Reading: G §9.5, LN §9.5-9.6
Assignment 4
Section 8.3 of Griffiths 4th ed.
(TA: Alex)
May 11
13. Confined Waves: Waveguides (cont.)
Reading: G §9.5, LN §9.6
14. Potential Formulation
Reading: G §10.1-10.2, LN §10.1
Assignment 5
(TA: Feng)
May 18
15. Moving Point Charges
Reading: G §10.3, LN §10.2
16. Moving Point Charges (cont.)
Reading: G §11.2.1, LN §10.2
Assignment 6
(TA: Alex)
May 25
17. Dipole Radiation, Relativity Review
Reading: G §11.1, LN §10.3
G §11.2.2-11.2.3 are being skipped, you are not responsible for this material.
Reading: G §12, LN §11.1
18. Relativity in Electrodynamics
Reading: G §12, LN §11.2
Assignment 7
(TA: Thom)
June 1
19. Applications of Radiation: Diffraction, Classical Scattering, or Antennas
Reading: TBD
20. Applications of Radiation: Diffraction, Classical Scattering, or Antennas,
Review for Final
Reading: TBD
Assignment 8
(FSJ only)
(TA: Feng)
Final for GS
Due June 5
FSJ: do not download this exam!  It overlaps the FSJ exam.
(TA: Feng, Thom, SG)
June 8
No Lecture
No Lecture
Final for FSJ
Due June 12
Solutions for both Final exams
(TA: Feng, Thom, SG)

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Vital Information

Location: 107 Downs

TuTh 10:30 am - 12:00 pm


Prof. Sunil Golwala, 308 Cahill, Mail Code 367-17.
Office hours: Thursday 6:00-8:00, SFL 220 (study room 2-2).
If you need to contact me outside of office hours, please try email first.  I am happy to arrange meetings outside of normal office hours, but I am not always available on the spur of the moment.  Please include "Ph106" in the subject line of your email so that it is recognized and responded to quickly.

Teaching Assistants:

Hsiao-Yi Chen
Enrico Herrmann, 421 Lauritsen
Alex Turzillo, 409 Lauritsen
Feng Bi, 52 West Bridge
Thom Bohdanowicz, 227 Annenberg
Alex Turzillo, 409 Lauritsen
Office hours: by appointment

Feedback: I greatly appreciate student feedback; feedback prior to the end-of-term evaluations lets me modify the class to fit your needs.  In person, by email, by campus mail, whatever you like.  If you would like to preserve your anonymity, campus mail will usually work.  My mailbox is in the kitchen area near my office.

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Policies and Grading

The courses will continue the policies laid out by Prof. Phinney for Ph106b.  In particular, problem set and exam policies given there apply to the second-half problem sets and final exam.  Note especially that the "one free extension" rule applies to the entire term, not to each half, for Ph106b.

Use of mathematical software like Mathematica is allowed, but will not be available for exams.  From a former colleague: It is absolutely essential that you develop a strong intuition for basic calculations involving linear algebra, differential equations, and the like.  The only way to develop this intuition is by working lots of problems by hand; skipping this phase of your education is a really bad idea.

Historically, performance on problem sets is much better than on exams.  Some of this may be due to the exam time constraint, but some of it may also be due to problem set overcollaboration.  If you do not internalize the material via the problem sets, you will not do well on the exams.  So be very careful to follow the collaboration policies, not just because of the honor code, but for your own good.

Here are some elaborations of the collaboration and reference policies, intended to supplement, not replace, the above policies:
  • On consulting tutors, TAs, fellow students, etc:

    Remember what the collaboration policy says: you must first try the problems yourself.  You can consult the instructor, TAs, tutors, fellow students, etc., but your solution must be the result of your own understanding.  You cannot ask other people to show you how to do a homework problem, or watch them do it, only discuss general issues and concepts with them, or work different examples.

    Generally, homework problems appear difficult because either the underlying physics or the calculational technique has not been understood.  Understand those and the homework is doable on your own.

  • On assisting fellow students:

    The same rules apply.  Don't tell your fellow students how to do a problem.  You can help them figure it out themselves by discussing relevant concepts, other examples, etc.  Helping another student without explicitly showing them how to do a problem is helpful to your own understanding, also, as you must have the concepts and techniques clear in your own head in order to effectively explain them to another student.
  • On exams for those who have consulted additional material on the web during their studying:

    In some instances, you may reference notes taken from online resources. In particular, if you take the initiative to do study beyond class material and you get lucky by finding or studying ahead of time a problem that is later assigned, you get to benefit from your hard work. However, you may not go hunting for problems on the web after they have been assigned, and you must use your own notes (handwritten or electronics) on any materials you have found, not the original source material.

    The most extreme hypothetical is the case of finding on the web a problem that is assigned on homework or an exam.  If you find the problem before seeing the relevant homework or exam, and take notes on it in your own hand (real or “virtual”), then those notes are fair game for use while you are doing the homework or exam. If you see the homework or exam, then go searching on the web and find the problem, your notes on such a problem are not allowed. Even if you found the problem before you saw the exam and saved the solution on your computer, going back to that saved copy is also not allowed, since that would not be your own notes.

    While it follows the letter of the above policy, hunting down scores of problems ahead of time and copying them in one’s own hand is strongly discouraged. Doing so clearly violates the spirit of the law, and the large amount of time it takes to find and copy these solutions could be much better spent learning the material.

    If you do make use of  electronic resources and save them, one idea would be to create a "forbidden" folder on your computer that you know you may not consult during an exam.  This will prevent even accidental violations of the honor code.
Problem sets due date: Friday 4 pm, to locked homework box outside 307 Cahill.  4 pm means 4 pm.

Problem set pickup:
  • The same 6-digit code you chose for Ph106b/mechanics will be used for this part of the term.

  • Solution sets will be posted on the website. Graded problem sets will be available in class or in the Ph106 outbox outside 307 Cahill (second half of term). If your name, and not just your numerical code, appears on the assignment, you will have to pick it up directly from SG’s AA in 307 Cahill.  She is generally there 8 am - 4 pm except 12-1 pm every day except Fridays.  If she is not there, you can look for SG in 308 Cahill and he can open her office for you.
The weighting for problem sets and exams in the final grade for Ph106b will be:
  • 25% first half problem sets
  • 25% midterm exam
  • 25% second half problem sets
  • 25% final exam
For Ph106c, the split will be
  • 50% problem sets
  • 25% midterm exam
  • 25% final exam

Ditch day policy: If ditch day falls on a lecture day, I will reschedule the lecture for the Saturday following ditch day at the usual lecture time, 10:30 am.  If ditch day falls on a problem set due day or the day before (Thursday or Friday), the set due date will be delayed to the following Monday, usual time: 4 pm.

Grade Distributions

2015 Ph106b:

Ph106c (2014):

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