Fall 2020

The Newtonian Synthesis: Dynamics of Particles and Systems

Listed in: Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-123

Formerly listed as: PHYS-23

Moodle site: Course


Larry R. Hunter (Section 01)


The idea that the same simple physical laws apply equally well in the terrestrial and celestial realms, called the Newtonian Synthesis, is a major intellectual development of the seventeenth century. It continues to be of vital importance in contemporary physics. In this course, we will explore the implications of this synthesis by combining Newton’s dynamical laws with his Law of Universal Gravitation. We will solve a wide range of problems of motion by introducing a small number of additional forces. The concepts of work, kinetic energy, and potential energy will then be introduced. Conservation laws of momentum, energy, and angular momentum will be discussed, both as results following from the dynamical laws under restricted conditions and as general principles that go well beyond the original context of their deduction. Four hours of lecture and discussion and one three-hour laboratory per week.

Lectures and discussions will be in-person for those able to attend and asynchronous for those not able to attend. Labs will be in-person for those able to attend and will be synchronous for those unable to attend. Should the pandemic render in-person classes impossible, lectures will become synchronous and labs will be done using remote kits.

Requisite: MATH 111. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Professor Hunter

If Overenrolled: Preference to first year students


Lab Science Course, Quantitative Reasoning


2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020