Course Syllabus

Welcome to Analytical Physics 2B! (Course number 01:750:228.) This is an introductory calculus-based course covering electromagnetic waves, geometric optics, wave optics, relativity, quantum physics, atomic physics, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, particle physics, and cosmology. My name is Mike Gentile ( and I'm the instructor for the course. The course will be offered in-person and attendance is required.

COVID-19 procedures

Rutgers expects you to take these seriously and follow them:

  • While the course is in-person it will be held in a large lecture hall. This means you'll be able to spread out as much as you need to feel comfortable.
  • You must wear a mask at all times in the Physics Lecture Hall building and wear it properly. We won't have masks for you, you must bring your own.


Here's a more detailed list of topics for those of you needing to get the course approved by your university for transfer credits:

  1. Electromagnetic waves, intensity, radiation pressure
  2. Reflection, refraction, and geometric optics
  3. Optical instruments and human vision
  4. Wave optics, interference, and polarization
  5. Spacetime and special relativity
  6. Early quantum physics and photons
  7. The Bohr model
  8. Quantum mechanics and the hydrogen atom
  9. Nuclear physics including fission, fusion, reactors, and radioactive decay
  10. Elementary particle physics and the Standard Model
  11. Cosmology, the Big Bang, and general relativity

Course materials

  • Textbook: University Physics with Modern Physics, 15th Edition, by Young and Freedman.
  • Online homework system: MasteringPhysics.

The simplest way to get everything you need is to go to MasteringPhysics and purchase the version that includes the eText. When asked use this CourseID:


You'll then be able to access the electronic version of the book within MasteringPhysics, and also through Pearson's "Pearson+" app on iOS and Android. If you want a hard copy of the book, that's up to you, but make sure it's the 15th edition or you'll run into some confusion.


Your grade in the course has 5 parts: Lecture classwork, Homework, and 3 Exams. Each of these is worth 20%. Letter grades are determined in the usual way (A is 90%+, B+ is 87-89%, B is 80-86%, etc.). You can track your grade as the course progresses here:



Lecture meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00pm-10:00pm in the Physics Lecture Hall starting on Tuesday July 12th. During each lecture there will be several group tasks that you'll work on. Form a group of approximately 3 people and work together on the task. Each of you needs to write your own answer on a separate sheet of paper and hand it in at the end of lecture. Make sure your name is written clearly on your work. Lecture classwork is graded entirely on effort out of 10 points.


We'll be using MasteringPhysics for our online homework system (see above for the CourseID). Access it here:


An assignment will be posted after each lecture. Tuesday lecture homework is always due that Saturday at 11:59pm. Thursday lecture homework is due the next Monday at 11:59pm.

There are two optional assignments. Neither of these are required and they will not affect your grade in any way. Use them in whatever way is helpful to you.

  • Introduction to MasteringPhysics: If this is your first time using MasteringPhysics it would be a good idea to work through this so you know how the system works and how grading works.
  • Physics Primer: This is a review of basic mathematical skills (scientific notation, basic algebra and trigonometry, calculator use, etc.)


Three non-cumulative exams will be given to test you on what you have learned during the course. Tentative dates for these exams can be found in the detailed course calendar below. Each exam will consist of 5 free response questions, each worth 10 points for a total of 50 points per exam. Since they are free response questions there will be plenty of opportunity for partial credit. You can bring a calculator (graphing calculators are fine, but no mobile devices/wearables/etc.). You may also bring a single 3"x5" index card to each exam containing whatever useful information you prefer. The exam will include the same sheet of physical constants and data that is included with the practice problems (see below).

Grading Philosophy: Instead of hunting for errors in your work and taking points off, we will give you credit for what you can convince us that you understand. This means that it is possible for you to get full credit even if you make a minor mathematical error somewhere, provided it doesn't lead to an answer that is unreasonable. It also means that even if you arrive at an answer that makes sense you might not get full credit if we can't figure out the reasoning that got you there. It is your responsibility to convince us that you understand what you are doing. Let that guide your work.

Practice problems: Practice problems problems with solutions will be posted approximately one week before each exam. These problems are meant to give you a feel for the style of questions. They are not meant to be a comprehensive reference of the content that is fair game for the exam. Use the sections listed in the detailed course calendar below along with what was emphasized in all parts of the course to prioritize your studying.

Help sessions

Each week there will be two one-hour help sessions where you can ask me anything about the course. You don't need to make an appointment, you can just show up. Help sessions are held remotely on Canvas.  In the site navigation go to "BigBlueButton", find "Mike's help session", and click join. Here's the schedule:

  • Saturdays 10:30am-11:30am
  • Mondays 10:30am-11:30am

Detailed course calendar

These are the planned topics and matching textbook sections for each lecture. Exam dates are also listed. I'll update this after each lecture if needed.

Lecture Topics Textbook sections
1 - Tuesday 7/12 Electromagnetic waves, intensity, radiation pressure, reflection, refraction Parts of 32.1-4 33.1-4
2 - Thursday 7/14 Mirrors, lenses, optical instruments, human vision 34.1-3,4-8
3 - Tuesday 7/19 Wave model of light, interference, gratings, thin films 33.7 35.1-2,4 36.4-5
4 - Thursday 7/21

Single-slit interference, resolving power, polarization

Exam 1 content ends here

Special relativity, time dilation, interstellar travel

33.5-6 36.1-2,7

Exam 1 content ends here


5 - Tuesday 7/26

Exam 1 (6:00pm-7:30pm)

Spacetime, relativistic dynamics

6 - Thursday 7/28

Quantum physics, spectra, atomic models, photoelectric effect, particle and wave models for matter, the Bohr model for hydrogen

Exam 2 content ends here

38.1,3 39.1-3,5

Exam 2 content ends here

7 - Tuesday 8/2

Quantum mechanics, the wave function, the uncertainty principle, the Schrodinger equation, the "particle in a box" model

Class notes + 38.4 39.6 40.1-2,6
8 - Thursday 8/4

Exam 2 (6:00pm-7:30pm)

Hydrogen revisited, Zeeman effect

9 - Tuesday 8/9 Relativistic quantum mechanics, antimatter, nuclear physics, the strong interaction, nuclear structure, fission, fusion Class notes + 43.1-2,6-8
10 - Thursday 8/11

Radioactive decay, particle physics, the neutrino, the weak interaction, the Standard Model, Feynman diagrams

Exam 3 content ends here

43.3 44.1,3-4 (but don't worry about "strangeness") + class notes

Exam 3 content ends here

11 - Tuesday 8/16 Exam 3 (6:00pm-7:30pm)

University policies and student services

Academic integrity: You will be held to the highest level of academic integrity. Get familiar with the Rutgers policy on academic integrity (Links to an external site.). In particular, the use of external sources to obtain solutions to homework assignments is a violation of academic integrity. Doing this may result in penalties ranging from a zero on an assignment to an F for the course to expulsion from the University. Also, posting of any course materials to external sites without the permission of the instructor is a violation of copyright and can result in the same penalties.

AttendanceClick here (Links to an external site.) for the university's policy on attendance and cancellation of classes. If you expect to miss any please use the University absence reporting website (Links to an external site.) to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me by that website. At that point I will contact you so we can discuss how you can make up the work or be excused from it, if possible. Examples of legitimate reasons for missing class are:

  • A doctor's appointment or other medical issue.
  • Going to an academic conference or a required event connected with your studies/athletics at Rutgers (you'll have to provide documentation).
  • A death in the family.
  • Observance of a religious holy day.
Going on some sort of vacation is generally not considered a legitimate reason but if you let me know far enough ahead of time we might be able to work something out.

Tutoring: Free academic tutoring is available through the Rutgers Learning Center (Links to an external site.).

Disability services: Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University's educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the disability services office (Links to an external site.).

Student wellness services: Rutgers University has several offerings.

  • Counseling, ADAP & Psychiatric Services (CAPS)CAPS (Links to an external site.) is a University mental health support service that includes counseling, alcohol and other drug assistance, and psychiatric services staffed by a team of professional within Rutgers Health services to support students' efforts to succeed at Rutgers University. CAPS offers a variety of services that include: individual therapy, group therapy and workshops, crisis intervention, referral to specialists in the community and consultation and collaboration with campus partners. 
  • Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance (VPVA): The Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (Links to an external site.) provides confidential crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy for victims of sexual and relationship violence and stalking to students, staff and faculty.
  • Scarlet Listeners: Free and confidential peer counseling (Links to an external site.) and referral hotline, providing a comforting and supportive safe space.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due