Spectacular conservation of angular momentum. Two galaxies collide with a small centre-of-mass offset. The collision is sufficently inelastic that they are gravitationally bound. What happens to the (very large) angular momentum? Story here.
The oldest known star. No, it's not Mick Jagger, it's a low-iron star in our galaxy, identified by an ANU team looking specifically for stars whose spectra show low iron. Heavy elements are made in supernovae. Stars containing heavy elements are made from supernovae of earlier generations of stars. Iron is a dead-end in nuclear reactions: elements of lower mass than iron can lose energy by nuclear fusion, those with higher mass by fission.
Pacific winds and the climate. Over the last decade or so, a relatively larger fraction of the nett heat absorbed by the planet has been going into the oceans rather than the air, with the result that the terrestrial part of global warming has been slower than before, while the oceanic part has been faster. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at UNSW has published an important study explaining this as the result of equatorial winds in the Pacific.
How universal are physical laws?Recent cosmological studies from John Webb's team at UNSW suggest that α, the fine structure constant (a value that appears in quantum electrodynamics), varies very slightly across the universe. So the answers to a physics exam set in Sydney might be different from those in Perth... no, the difference is very slight. But the results have very important philosophical implications.
Lab classes are on your timetable. Make a period on your timetable for lab preparation.
You need to do the lab safety on-line unit and score at least 9/10 before the first lab class.
You must also do lab pre-work before lab classes. For lab exercises, video introductions are available.
Times and places
The times for your labs, lectures and problem solving classes ("other") have been allocated centrally by UNSW Student Central and should be printed on your timetable. For problems with your timetable, see the First Year Office.
The best times to consult will be advised here soon.
Teaching assistants. From week 2, teaching assistants are available for consultation in Room 02, Old Main Building (immediately South of the lab).
Times on the First year site.
Teaching assistants can help you with lab prework and the homework booklet problems, or with questions you have about theory. They can not help you with the current Web Assign quiz questions (as this is an assessment task). If the teaching assistants are very busy we will increase the hours they are available for future weeks. You do not need to book in in advance, just show up with questions.
The best time and place is immediately after lectures, at the North door of Burrows, i.e. Mon 11 am and 6 pm, Tuesday 4 pm, Wednesday 3 pm, Friday 10 am and 4 pm. I'll answer short questions there. For longer questions we can adjourn to another place.
Questions about the overall administration of the course, including timetables, labs, problem solving classes, should be asked on the
Moodle site. Check that the answer to your question is not on the web page or the noticeboard outside the office before asking.
Important questions about the physics covered in the syllabus will be of general interest and should be asked of your lecturer in person, either in class when the topic arises or at the end of it. If there is no time, you can also discuss them on the Physics 1 Discussion Forum .
Questions about particular problems on homework sheets will be discussed in the problem solving class, and may also be discussed with one of the Teaching assistants on duty. But first discuss them with other students: if you can work it out together you'll learn more.
Interesting physics questions that fall outside the syllabus may be asked on Physics Questions, a discussion forum set up specially for physics students in Physics 1. You may also wish to answer questions on the bulletin board or to contribute to the discussion.
Questions about assessment need to be asked in public (ideally on the bulletin board) and not in private. It would be unfair to answer such a question to one student.
Course pack, lab book, homework book. Either download and print from the course Moodle site, or else: Buy the lab notes from the bookshop. Then take your lab book to the First Year Lab, show them the lab notes and they will give you a homework book.
You will need to have regular access to a text book, even if you don't buy one. Yes, good text books are expensive. If you can't afford one, you might consider using the copies on open reserve in the library, or sharing a text book among two or three students. If you can afford it, it will serve for both the first and second sessions physics subjects, will be great background for second year physics and engineering subjects and you will probably use it as a useful reference book for much of a career in science, technology or engineering.
On the quirky side: "The Cartoon Guide to Physics" by L. Gonick and A. Huffman is a really good physics book! It's not a text book – no problems, no references, and it's short on detail – but it's a very good presentation and explanation of much of the material in first year physics courses. Although it's out of print, on-line sellers have new or second-hand copies.
How will you know if you are keeping up? What feedback will you get?
Labs are marked as you finish them.
On-line quizzes are marked as you finish them.
Homework problems are not marked, but are really good feedback on your understanding, and excellent rehearsals for the end of session test. Make sure you have tried every problem before you go to your problem solving class.
Exam question of the week. Most homework sheets have a question from a past paper testing the material you have done in each week. (Of course you can also do other appropriate questions from other past papers .)
The Preliminary test is an optional test, in the style of the end-of-session test, but based on the material covered in the first two weeks or so. Doing this under simulated exam conditions gives you early feedback on how you would go in an exam. Do this test some time after your week 3. Download Marking scheme for self-test, in .pdf format. Do not download this until you have done the self-test.
Questions about tests. To ensure fairness, any question about the tests must be answered in front of the whole class, on the course bulletin board. A lecturer cannot answer a question about assessment that you ask in person.
Past papers and solutions
Note that the syllabus changed in 2006 and 2008, so some older questions will be no longer relevant. The midsession tests up to 2009 used written answers and thus are in the style of the current end-of-session test. Past papers and solutions are on the
First Year Office site.
Lecture notes. The notes linked below are provided so that you can make best use of lecture time. They should not be considered as the syllabus, nor are they a substitute for a text book. These will be added as the course progresses. If you print them out and bring them to the lecture, you will be able to follow the lecture without much writing, although you will probably want to add notes of your own.