Prince George's Community College

Spring 2023

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  • Be sure to bring paper, pencil, and a calculator to class from now on for in-class final exam exercises.
  • You may also wish to check out the Schaum's Outline College Physics by Eugene Hecht. We are considering the Schaum's outline for next year's text.
  • There are flash cards available to help with memorizing the Greek alphabet and SI prefixes.
  • There will be no class on Wednesday, May 10 (exam week).
  • The final exam will be held on Monday, May 15, 6:00-8:20 pm.
  • Python Lab Assignment. (Due Monday, May 8, 2023.)
    1. The task is to write a Python script that will read in geomagnetic field data from NASA's MAGSAT spacecraft, and convert the data from strings to numbers. Print out to the console columns of latitude vs. total magnetic field strength.
    2. The MAGSAT data file is here.
    3. Look over the data file reference materials:
    4. You may start with Version 2 of the program here. Modify the program by un-commenting the lines for R, Bx, By, and Bz (i.e. remove the # sign), then fill in the code needed to read in those variables. Follow the pattern for Lambda and Phi -- you will just need to change the numbers. Use the chart at the top of the code marked "Columns" as your guide. Remember that strings in Python are indexed starting from 0, and look like str[a,b], where “a” is the index of the first character, and “b” is the index of the last character, PLUS 1. This means you will use the indices shown in the "Columns" comments, but subtract 1 from the first number, as shown in the examples for Lambda and Phi.
    5. Once you've modified Version 2 of the program, all you should need to do is print out the latitude (Lambda) and magnetic field strength, which you will calculate as: math.sqrt(Bx**2+By**2+Bz**2)
    6. Hand in a printed copy of your finished program by the last day of class.
  • Try this Greek alphabet quiz

To Learn More

To learn more about physics, I suggest:
  • To get any further, you will need to learn the calculus. I recommend taking college courses for this. If you would like a brief introduction first, I recommend How to Enjoy Calculus by Eli S. Pine.
  • University Physics by Sears and Zemansky (1956). An excellent calculus-based overview of physics. (Newer editions tend to be bloated without adding anything more of value.)
  • Physics by Paul J. Tipler (1976). Another excellent calculus-based overview of physics. (As with Sears and Zemansky, newer editions tend to be unnecessarily bloated.)

For some fun physics-related reading, I suggest:

  • The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne and Christopher Nolan. Thorne is a well-known physicist who was involved in making the movie Interstellar from its beginning. In this book he and film director Nolan describe the physics shown in the movie.
  • Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku. A noted physicist discusses the possibility of time travel, force fields, invisibility cloaks, transporters, etc.
  • The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. A very entertaining collection of stories surrounding the periodic table of the elements.
  • Mr. Tompkins in Paperback (and an updated version, The New World of Mr. Tompkins) by George Gamow. A famous Russian physicist wrote these stories of a world in which the speed of light is just 30 mph so relativistic effects are visible, and more stories of a world where Planck's constant is so large that quantum effects are visible.

Here's an interesting article on the physics of skipping stones from Physics Today: Water-Skipping Stones and Spheres

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Dr. David G. Simpson:

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Page last updated: May 2, 2023.