To the Student

 Things should be made as simple as possible,
but not any simpler.
A. Einstein

Welcome to Physics 2k2. You are one of countless high school seniors across the country about to embark on an interesting intellectual journey. Physics is the formal study of the physical world around you. It is something of a specialized study. While physics deals with matter and energy and how they relate to each other, a survey course such as this tends to postpone to another time any in-depth study of chemistry, geology, and astronomy. Instead, we will focus our attention in those major areas delineated in the table of contents. We will study the nature of light and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. We will engage in a lengthy study in mechanics, learning the manifestations of how things move. Then comes the connected relationship between electricity and magnetism. We will build on your previous knowledge of the atom, applying our newly-learned knowledge of energy and motion to atomic structure.

Physics 2k2 is an entry-level survey course. As such, it will cause you to learn about some topics in detail while paying little attention to others. There is not time to learn it all. The depth of detail will be appropriate for a high school course and should prepare you for additional study elsewhere if you so choose. And if this is the only time in your formal education that you study physics, you will learn many of the rules of nature that govern the behavior of the physical world around you.

While the topics of study in Physics 2k2 are mainline curriculum, the principal mode of delivery is not. That you are reading this statement on a computer screen is a significant departure from thumbing through a printed text. There are two reasons why this course will rely very heavily on on-line resources. First, we are doing this because we CAN do it. In 1995, this community committed $1 million to provide us with very advanced electronic tools to facilitate teaching and to enhance learning. The financial commitment to maintain this advantage year after year has been equally impressive. It is incumbent on us to make optimum use of this advantage. Second, by relying on the burgeoning quantity of knowledge now posted on web sites around the world, we can sample the thinking of many authors rather than be tied to one author in a traditional text. Between the web sites I have found for you and the sites you will find on your own, this approach will bring to you an experience in physics far richer than could be delivered by any text.

Here are some important notes regarding surfing the Internet.

1. As of mid-August, 2002 there were in excess of
1100 links to web sites in the body of the "text" and all were viable. You should know that these links are subject to change without notice because servers crash or because authors of these sites have some compelling need to send them to the recycle bin. I have attempted to provide alternate sites to improve your chances of opening a link.

2. The downside of publishing textbooks in print is that it is a very long process to ensure sufficient editorial review. At the same time, the editorial policies of most legitimate publishers are aimed at a product that is factually correct. Conversely, anyone with access to a server can publish opinions on the Internet within a few minutes of logging on. Quality control ensuring the accuracy of the written product rests exclusively with the writer. Most of the sites to which this syllabus is linked are posted by institutions of higher learning around the world. If you have any doubt about the accuracy or appropriateness of anything found through the use of this site, please bring your concern to me immediately.

3. The Internet is so exciting to use, at least at first encounter, because it is your ticket to a vast collection of information. As you go from link to link, try to avoid being distracted away from your central purpose--the physics lesson at hand.

4. All students enrolled in my Physics courses are expected to comply with the school's acceptable use policy . Were a violation of this policy to cause you to be denied access to school hardware, your chances of attaining any success in this class would be significantly reduced.

This mode of delivery will necessitate a change in your work habits. On the one hand, you will not have a large text to carry around or to crowd your locker. On the other hand, studying your "text" will have to be better planned and more focused. Instead of a casual review of a printed text in home room, you will have to devote a significant piece of the computer time available to you to review your lessons. And if that time is limited, it will be incumbent upon you to try to understand what you read the first time you read it. I believe that intense use of planned time to review the thoughts of multiple authors will deliver to you an experience significantly more valuable than heretofore experienced by other students enrolled in Physics 2K2 in other years.


Last edited 10/26/07

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