cod. 00405

Academic year 2010/11
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Fisica sperimentale (FIS/01)
Discipline fisiche
Type of training activity
93 hours
of face-to-face activities
9 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide the student with fundamental knowledge of the laws of physics and of the application of the laws to the study of the most common phenomena in order to be able to describe and interpret investigation and measurement techniques, which will then be used in research or working laboratories. Particular attention will be placed on units, orders, appropriate use of terms and development of ability to synthetize. The fundamental equations will be explained and applied, with acknowledgement of the limits of their validity, to the case of simple problems.


Attendance to the basis Mathematics course is recommended

Course unit content


Full programme

Particle mechanics
Measurements - Units - Physical quantities - Vectors Operations on vectors - Motion - Scalar and vector velocity - Acceleration - Motion in two and three dimensions - Velocity and mean velocity - Acceleration and mean acceleration - Projectile motion - Uniform circular motion - Relative motion - Newton's laws - Forces - Mass - Applications of Newton's laws - Kinetic energy and work - Power - Potential energy - Conservative forces - Work done by non-conservative forces - Conservation of energy

System mechanics and rigid body mechanics
Particle systems - Centre of mass - Newton's second law for a particle system - Momentum of a particle system - Conservation of momentum - - External forces and internal energy changes - Collisions - Impulse and momentum - Elastic collisions in one dimension - Inelastic collisions in one dimension - Rotation - Rotational variables - Rotation with constant angular acceleration - Linear and angular variables - Rotational kinetic energy - Moment of inertia - Moment of a force - Work, power and work-kinetic energy theorem - Rolling - Angular momentum - Conservation of angular momentum

Fluid mechanics - Waves in elastic media
Fluids - Density and pressure - Fluids at rest - Measurement of pressure - Pascal's law - Archimedean principle - Ideal fluids in motion - Streamlines and continuity equation - Bernoulli equation - Oscillations - Simple, damped and forced harmonic motion, - Pendulums - Resonance - Waves - Transverse and longitudinal waves - Wavelength and frequency - Speed of a moving wave - Energy and power of a moving wave - The superposition principle - Interference - Phase vectors - Stationary waves and resonance - Acoustic waves - Speed of sound - Interference - Sound intensity and level - Sources of musical sounds - Beats - Doppler effect

Newton's law of gravitation - Inertial mass and gravitational mass - Terrestrial gravitation: the weight of bodies and the fall of bodies - Kepler's laws of planetary motion - Gravitational potential energy - Artificial satellites and interplanetary probes - Gravitation, astrophysics and cosmology

Heat and temperature
Thermal equilibrium and zeroth law of thermodynamics - Temperature and heat - Temperature measurement and temperature scales - Thermal expansion - Heat capacity and specific heat - Changes of state and latent heat - Propagation of heat

The first law of thermodynamics
Heat and work - Thermodynamic system - Internal energy - Thermodynamic transformations - Reversible and irreversible processes - Graphical representation of a transformation - Gas as a thermodynamic system - Work of pressure forces - Molar specific heat at constant volume and at constant pressure - Ideal gas law - Real gases and van der Waals equation - The first law of thermodynamics - Heat, work and internal energy in the thermodynamic processes of the ideal gas: isothermal, isobaric, isochoric and adiabatic.

The second law of thermodynamics
Operation of heat engines - Reversible engines and the Carnot cycle - Irreversibility of thermal processes - The second law of thermodynamics in the Kelvin and Clausius formulations - Efficiency of heat engines - Absolute thermodynamic temperature and efficiency of the Carnot cycle - Refrigerators - The entropy function - Entropy changes in reversible and irreversible thermodynamic processes - Entropy and heat engines - Natural processes and energy degradation.

Kinetic theory of gases
Ideal gas model - Mean free path - Distribution of molecular velocities - Kinetic-molecular interpretation of the pressure and temperature of a gas - Internal energy and equipartition principle - Molar specific heats of an ideal gas - Statistical interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics - Entropy and probability: disorder and information.

The electric field
Introduction to electrostatics - Electric charges - Conducting and insulating materials - Coulomb's law - Electric force and electric field generated by monopoles - Lines of force of an electric field - Field generated by charge pairs - Electric dipole - Definition of flux of a vector field - Gauss' theorem - Equivalence: Coulomb's law - Gauss' theorem - Examples for the application of Gauss' theorem - Electric potential - Calculation of the potential starting from the electric field - Calculation of the electric field starting from the electric potential - Equipotential surfaces - Capacitor concept - Electrical capacity - Examples of capacitors - Polarization - Dielectrics and dielectric constant - Gauss' law in the presence of dielectrics - Electric current - Current density - Ohm's law - Microscopic explanation of Ohm's law - Semiconductors and superconductors - Power - Joule effect - Electromotive force - Mesh theorem - Series and parallel resistance - Node theorem - Charge and discharge of an RC circuit

The magnetic field
Introduction to magnetism - Magnetic field - Magnetic force acting on a particle - Lorentz force - Lines of force of a magnetic field - Magnetic field generated by current-carrying wires - Electric dipole-magnetic dipole analogy - Magnetic force generated by current-carrying wires - Definition of the Ampere - Field generated by a solenoid and by a toroid - Induction phenomenon - Faraday's law - Lenz's law - Examples and applications - Inductance - Inductance calculation - Examples and applications - RL circuits - Energy considerations - Circuits in alternating current - Alternating current generator - Phasor method - RLC circuits - Magnetic properties of matter - Atomic and nuclear magnetism - Paramagnetism - Diamagnetism - Ferromagnetism - Hysteresis cycle

Electromagnetic waves and light
Maxwell's equations - EM wave propagation equation - EM wave propagation velocity - EM wave spectrum - EM wave generation - EM wave energy - Poynting vector - References to electric dipole emission - Definition of polarized wave - Huygens' principle - Light ray approximation - Reflection and refraction - Dispersion and prisms - Total reflection

Geometrical optics
Mirrors and spherical dioptres, thin lenses – Reference to lens aberrations - Centred optical systems

Wave optics and polarization
Interference - Multiple slit and thin film interference - Michelson interferometer - Fraunhofer diffraction - Diffraction grating - Dispersive power and resolving power of optical devices - Polarization of light: polarization by reflection and by selective absorption.


Serway, Jewett - Fisica per Scienze e Ingegneria, EDISES
Giancoli - Fisica, CEA
Giambattista, McGrawHill

Teaching methods

Oral lesson
with many numerical examples

Assessment methods and criteria

Joined oral written exam with intermediate written tests.

Other information

The written tests are simple and are used for admission to the oral examination. Students who fail to pass the written test are advised against taking the oral examination.