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Fizik I - Mekanik ZCT 101/4. Lecturer in charge: Yoon Tiem Leong ( 袁添亮) Email: Room 115, School of Physics, USM, Tel: 653 3674. Or teaching/ modernphysics.htm. Course Description Physic after 1900

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Lecturer in charge:

Yoon Tiem Leong (袁添亮)


Room 115, School of Physics, USM, Tel: 653 3674

www geocities com tlyoon or www fizik usm my tlyoon teaching modernphysics htm





Course Description

  • Physic after 1900
  • special theory of relativity,  particle nature of light and wave nature of matter, introductory quantum theory of atoms and introductory quantum mechanics.  
  • Time Planning
contact hours
Contact hours

Maximum contact hours =

(2x 7) weeksx (3x50) mins/week = 35 hours (ideally, but practically the number of contact hours could be lesser due to holidays)

  • Out of the 42 classes scheduled, 4 will be allocated for tutorials
  • Estimated lecture hours  32
topics to be covered
Topics to be covered

-1The program of physics

1 lecture 13 Nov 03 (Thu)

0Special theory of Relativity

12 (or 10) lectures14 Nov 03 (Frid) - 

1Some preliminary wave physics

2 lectures

2Particle properties of radiation

5 lectures

3Wave properties of particles

3 lectures

4Introductory quantum mechanics

4 lectures

5Atomic models

5 lectures

Total  =     32 (30) lectures (flexi)

Problem Sets (tutorial): 4 sets, download them from the web

Exams: Two tests, x-hour final exam (yet to confirm)


Grading will be weighted: Midterm tests + 1 computer-based test, both contribute 30%, while final exam will contribute 70% to the total weight.



1) Kenneth Kane, Modern Physics, John. Wiley & Sons,  2nd edition (August 1995) (required)

2) Modern Physics (Saunders Golden Sunburst Series) International edition, by Raymond A. Serway, Clement J. Moses, Curt A. Moyer (required) (alternatively, volume two, physics for scientists and engineers by Raymond A. Serway, third edition, by the same publisher)

3) Introduction to the Structure of Matter: A Course in Modern Physics, by John J. Brehm (Author), William J. Mullin, John Wiley & Sons; (January 1989) (advanced)


4) Elementary Modern Physics, by Richard T. Widner and Robert L. Sells, Allyn and Bacon Inc., third edition

5) Concepts of Modern Physics, Arthur Beiser, McGraw-Hill; 6th edition

6) Physics, Cutnell and Johnson, John Wiley & Sons (International Edition), 6th edition (simple)


7) Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles by Robert Eisberg, Robert Resnick, John Wiley & Sons; 2nd edition 7)

8) Introduction to special relativity, by Robert Resnick, John Wiley & sons

course requirement informal
Course requirement (informal):
  • The students must be familiar with basic knowledge in some necessary mathematical tools such as calculus, differential equations, Taylor and/or binomial expansion
  • The students must have already equipped with fundamental knowledge in Newtonian mechanics
  • English
mailing list

   Everyone must send an email to so that I could maintain a list of contact

Type your name in the “Subject”

Those who fail to do so have to bear the responsibility if any information pertaining to the lectures, e.g extra classes, change of venue and timetable etc., fail to reach him/her

  • Password for lecture notes:

011103 (the date AB took over as PM)

  • Tutorial sets

Consultation hours

- anytime (but please call first)

  • General Comments
  • intellectually intriguing and somewhat counter-intuitive, must prepare to think logically like Einstein.
  • Learn the methodology of doing ‘real’ physics
No ‘hafalan’ will work here – understanding is absolutely mandatory
  • Interactive learning is strongly encouraged – emailing, Q&A on class, in private, by phone, chat room on the web etc.
  • Your feedback to improve the quality of the lectures is welcomed
  • Must read text – lecture note is not enough
1 st lecture the program of physics
1st lecture: The program of Physics
  • The program of physics is to devise concepts and laws that can help understand the physical universe.
  • A law in physics is a precise mathematical statementof a relation that has been found by repeated experiment to hold among physical quantities and that reflects persistent regularities in the behaviour of the physical world.
good physical laws
"good" physical laws
  • generality, simplicity, precision, fit experimental observations (e.g. Newtonian Physics)
  • New physics supplants old physics beyond the domain of validity of old physics (e.g. Special relativity vs. Newtonian Physics)
The limits of physical theories: classical physics, quantum physics, special theory of relativity, relativistic quantum mechanics (QFT), general theory of relativity, statistical physics
  • Quantum gravity
Classical physics = physics before 1900 – thermodynamics, EM, classical mechanics
  • modern physics = the physics of the twentieth century (after 1900)
  • This course is about Quantum physics - atomic and nuclear structure, and
  • special theory of relativity – speed approaching that of light
  • failure of classical physics gives rise to modern physics
from specific to general
From specific to general
  • Usually we start from some known but specific theory and try to generalise it
  • a new (general) theory will yield the old (restricted) theory as a special approximation
  • E.g. when backtracking to your younger age, the difficult math you learnt in the University must reduce to that of simple arithmetic knowledge that you learnt in primary school
  • E.g. the relativity and quantum theories must yield classical physics when applied to large-scale objects moving at speeds much lower than the speed of light
the correspondence principle
The correspondence principle
  • Extrapolation from known physics to more general physics requires some “criteria” that must be fulfilled by the `new theory’
  • Any new theory in physics, whatever its character or details, must reduce to the well established classical theory to which it corresponds when it is applied under the circumstances in which the less general theory is known to hold.
  • Special case: The parabola motion of projectile on Earth is a special case of the more general case of elliptic motion of satellite around the Earth
  • General case: The mathematical description of satellite has to reduce to parabolic motion of projectile on Earth surface when the length scale reduces from that of Earth size (~6000km) to that of a short distance (say, ~ 100 m)
another example
Another example
  • Ray optics and wave optics, both describing the propagation of light
  • Geometrical optics: only rectilinear propagation, reflection, refraction, valid only when l /d -> 0
  • wave (physical) optics - more general (diffraction, interference, also rectilinear propagation), more comprehensive, valid up to ld

Limit (wave optics) = ray optics

l /d 0 (no wave phenomena)



if you have no life - and you can PROVE it mathematically.

if you enjoy pain.

if you know vector calculus but you can't remember how to do long division.

if you chuckle whenever anyone says 'centrifugal force.'

if you've actually used every single function on your scientific calculator.


if you always do homework on Friday and Saturday nights.

if you know how to integrate a chicken and can take the derivative of water.

if you hesitate to look at something because you don't want to break down its wave function.

if you have a pet named after a scientist.

if you laugh at jokes about mathematicians.

if the Humane society has you arrested because you actually performed the Schrodinger's Cat experiment.


if you avoid doing anything because you don't want to contribute to the eventual heat-death of the universe.

if you consider ANY non-science course 'easy.'

if the 'fun' centre of your brain has deteriorated from lack of use.

if you'll assume that a 'horse' is a 'sphere' in order to make the math easier.

if you understood more than five of these indicators.

if you make a hard copy of this list, and post it on your door.

If these indicators apply to you, there is good reason to suspect that you might be classified as a physics major. I hope this clears up any confusion