Introduction to Physics

Learning about the relevance of physics to chemistry at the microscopic/​molecular and macroscopic level.

Students of sciences need an understanding of physics to be able to compare phenomena to basic physical models. This course aims to develop an appreciation and recognition of the relevance of physics to chemistry at the microscopic/​molecular and macroscopic level. This course, however, is not a traditional introductory post-calculus Physics course with some examples in chemical contexts or a discussion of topics confined to phenomena such as energy quantization that apply directly to chemistry. It is a course to not only help chemistry students understand important concepts in chemistry that rely on physics but also understand the broad physical principles that govern the world around us and the process of creating models and representations for observed phenomena.

The idea that the same fundamental principles apply to all systems across all scales from galaxies to atoms is central to the design of this course. The content is woven around a handful of principles that can be applied to all physical phenomena (motion, light, sound, heat, and electricity) and ultimately, properties of matter. The first half of the course weaves together the underlying principles of classical and quantum mechanics, an atomic level description of matter, and assumptions of statistical mechanics to discuss motion of bodies, forces, energy, oscillations and waves, electrostatics, quantum physics, and thermodynamics. The second half of the course unifies the principles of electrostatics
and classical mechanics covered in the first unit along with an atomic level description of matter to discuss macroscopic observations of electric fields, potentials, currents and magnetic fields. The course culminates in the discussion of electromagnetic radiation and light.