Physics 313: Fall of 2013



This course is called "Modern Physics", by which is meant not the physics of the last few years, but the physics which was discovered 1905 - 45, with a few scattered highlights from later days. So much for logic, but do not be disappointed! This period was probably the most dramatic time of change and discoveries not just of physics, but of any discipline ever in the history of mankind.  During this period, Einstein proposed his theory of relativity, the theory of quantum mechanics was constructed by Niels Bohr and his followers, and the basic properties of the atomic nucleus were understood.


I will not give a rigorous, technical account of all these discoveries. Rather, I hope to give you a sense for the fantastic new insights that this period in physics gave and some seat-of-the-pants feeling for the wonders of the universe and ourselves that this remarkable era gave us. You are expected to already know something about elementary mechanics and electromagnetism, and I will use calculus. This course is not primarily intended for students who wish to go on to graduate school in physics; rather, the intention is to give a fairly (but not completely!) non-technical overview to students with a general interest in science. This is a subject I love to teach, and I hope I can convey some of my enthusiasm to you.


Last lecture on Tuesday December 10. The last assignment is due that day.

Final on Friday December 20, 8 11 AM, in room 105 in ARC.


Information about the final


Review session Wednesday December 18 at 1 PM in room 204 in ARC!!


Homework assignments


Lecture notes and homework solutions are available on Sakai


General Information:


Lecturer: Torgny Gustafsson, Room 206, Nanophysics (Nuclear Physics) Building (, the white building behind Serin, as seen from the parking lot).


Phone: 732-445-5500 x2507


Office hours: Thursdays 3 4 PM or by appointment.


You are encouraged to call or, better, E-mail me and make an appointment for a time that suits you.


Website: The home page contains the most up-to-date information!!!!!


Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday 6th period, 5 6:20 PM in room 105 in Allison Road Class Room building (ARC).


Grader: Jing Chen.


Phone: 732-445-5500 x6886


Office hours: By appointment only.


Text: The only required text is: Tipler and Llewellyn: Modern Physics, 6th edition (Freeman), ISBN: 978-1-4292-5078-8. The list price of the book is a wallet emptying $146.95. I am told that New Jersey Books has this book at a discounted prize. Amazon has it for $108.15.


A special note about the text book: We will use the same book as last year. The current edition is the 6th. However, the differences between the 5th and the 6th are very small indeed. A few end-of-chapters problems have been added, so that the numbering of these problems does not always match between the two editions. You can probably find used copies of the 5th edition for a low price online. Last year, I listed the assigned problems as found in both editions; I will try to do the same this year also. So, if you would like to save a few $ by going with the 5th edition, you will probably not have many issues to deal with!!


The text contains explanations of the concepts we will be covering in this course, as well as high-quality illustrations and photos, problem-solving walkthroughs, a math review, and the problems from which homework may be assigned. I intend to cover ch. 1 6, parts of ch. 7 and of ch. 10 - 12. Further details will be posted on our website as we go along.


You also have the option of using an eBook. The eBook can be found at CourseSmart ( ) and costs $59.99.


There is a student solutions manual available for this text. It contains solutions to a few (but not most) of the problems in the book. The purchase of this manual is neither required nor recommended. I note that the Rutgers bookstore, for reasons best known to them, recommends that you buy this manual. Again, I recommend that you do not buy it, let alone do I require it.


The publisher maintains a free webpage for this book with additional information, errata etc: .


Exams: There will be two midterm exams (October 3 and October 31, both in class), and one final exam on Friday, December 20, 8 11 AM, in room 105 in ARC. The final will be cumulative, with an emphasis, though, on material not covered in the previous two exams. You can bring one sheet of equations, constants or whatever you think will be useful on the exam. Also, bring a calculator, your Rutgers ID, pens etc.


Quiz: Approximately every other Tuesday we will have a 10 min quiz. First quiz: Tuesday, September 10.


Homework: Each week you will have a homework assignment. The assignments will be posted on the webpage and are due on Thursday each week. They will be collected and graded. Late assignments will usually not be graded. All homework should be done neatly. Write legibly and staple your papers together. No loose sheets, please.


Grades: 20% first midterm, 20% second midterm, 40% final, 20 % homework and quizzes. I do not allow students to improve a grade by doing projects etc.


Students with Disabilities: If you have a disability, it is essential that you speak to me early in the semester to make the necessary arrangements to support a successful learning experience. Also, you must arrange for me to receive a Letter of Accommodation from the Office of Disability Services. For more information, see


Study tips: My experience is that, in order to be successful in this class, you have to work from the very beginning of the class. The number of pages you are required to read is not very large, but the number of new concepts is. Historically, students in this course have rarely had problems with any one concept, but they have had big problems seeing the forest for all the trees. The course deals with very small and very large length scales and times, and most students find it difficult to get an intuitive feeling for "what is reasonable". Therefore: Start studying at the very beginning of the semester, a little bit every day. Form discussion groups with other students, argue the material with each other, help each other to do the home work, bearing in mind that helping each other (which is encouraged) is very, very different from copying each other (which is not allowed). I do not assign homework to harass my students; rather the assignments are there to prod you to get engaged in the course from the very beginning.


About email: E-mail is a great communication tool and, if used properly, will help you get the most out of the class. You may send e-mail questions to me with questions about the class or assignments. However, please keep the following in mind.

I receive many e-mails in a short time. Don't expect a response within the hour. I am not on duty 24/7 and do not sit by my terminal waiting to read and respond to e-mail instantly. However, as sometimes e-mails are overlooked or forgotten, if you haven't received a response within 2 business days (Monday-Friday), you may feel free to send a polite reminder. I often respond to e-mail over the weekend, but don't depend on it. Be sure to check the class web page before you send a question. Answers to common questions will be posted there.


E-mails are a professional communication and should be written as such and should have the following format:



Cell phones and laptops: The use of cell phones for any purpose (including texting, email and games) is never allowed in class. Place your phone in a place such as your bag where it cannot be seen by you or anyone else. Use of laptops is only allowed for note taking, surfing the web or emailing is not allowed.


Administrative problems: Professor Carlton (Tad) Pryor (Office: Serin W302, Phone: 732-445-5500 x5462, e-mail: is the physics undergraduate director. For problems with your registration etc, contact Ms. Stacey Jacobs (Serin W201, 732-445-5500 x2511,


Other problems: If you have some unanticipated or unusual problem (family emergencies, serious illness, financial problems ) bring these to my attention AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Waiting till the end of the semester is not a good idea. If you notify me immediately, we can often find a solution. Again, I will not allow you to make up assignments or tests by doing projects or turning in homework late.