Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)

Basic mathematical concepts (representation on the Cartesian space, direct and inverse proportion, first and second order equations and systems, exponential and logarithmic functions, simple geometrical functions, elementary trigonometry); knowledge of basic concepts in Chemistry (atom, molecule, chemical bond).

The course includes theoretical lectures (6 credits, 48 hours), classroom exercises (1 credit, 8 hours) e two Physics Laboratory practicals taken in small working groups (1 credit, 8 hours). Course attendance, although not mandatory, is strongly recommended. Attendance to the Physics Laboratory practical is mandatory. For students who have been absent, recovery Physics Laboratory practicals will be planned at the end of course semester.

Knowledge:

The course is concerned with the study of matter, energy, forces, and their interaction in the world and universe around us. The course enables students to acquire the necessary competences on the physical basic laws and concepts (both theoretical and experimental) useful to describe and to understand the physical properties of the matter in the frame of the life and environmental sciences. The course is focused on the basic theoretical and experimental Physics (mechanics, fluid properties, thermodynamics, electric and magnetic properties) and covers the broad fundamentals necessary for graduate study in interdisciplinary specialties requiring a strong scientific background.

Ability to apply the knowledge:

The student must acquire a rigorous and analytic way of thinking and dealing with physical phenomena. In particular, it should have a basic knowledge of the laws of General Physics and it should be able to apply them appropriately to interpret the basic phenomena involving movement, energy and thermal, electrical and magnetic properties of matter, to properly use the units of the common physical quantities and to know the conversion factors between homogeneous units. In addition, the student should be able to apply the laws of Physics to solve numerical exercises and must be able to clearly communicate the process used to arrive at their solution. Finally, the student should be able to show understanding of the scientific method used to measure and interpret critically the physical phenomena observed during laboratory experiments.

Soft skills:

The activity during the laboratory practicals and the preparation of laboratory reports, carried out in a working group, will help to improve student's autonomy and communication skills. Moreover, the analysis of data collected by the students during the experimental activities and the exercise performed to solve the physical problems will help the student to improve the ability to use the already learned mathematical and statistical concepts.

Contents (classroom lectures, 6 CFU, 48 hours):

Scientific method. Base quantities, derived quantities and dimensions. Systems of units. Scalars and vectors. Vector operations. Position and displacement vectors. Average velocity and instantaneous velocity. Average acceleration and instantaneous acceleration. Straight uniform motion. Uniformly accelerated motion. Uniform circular motion. Non-uniform circular motion and angular velocity. Centripetal and tangential acceleration. Parabolic motion. Concept of force. Principle of inertia. Second law of dynamics. Third principle of dynamics. Weight force. Hooke’s Law. Composition of forces. Contact forces. Tension of an ideal chord. Gravitational force. Other forces in nature. Static and dynamic friction. Examples of motions in the presence of friction. Non-inertial reference frame and apparent forces. Many-particles systems. Center of mass. Position, velocity and acceleration of the center of mass. Internal and external forces. Momentum. Principle of conservation of momentum. Basic examples for the conservation of momentum. Impulsive forces. Work. Kinetic energy theorem. Power. Scalar and vector fields. Conservative field. Potential energy. Principle of conservation of mechanical energy. Dissipative forces. Gravitational and elastic potential energy. Elastic and inelastic collisions. Moment of force. Static equilibrium. Basic examples of static equilibrium. Angular momentum and inertia. Principle of conservation of the angular momentum. Density and viscosity of a fluid. Pressure and Pascal’s Principle. Stevin’s law. Archimedes’ principle. Fluids in stationary motion. Law of continuity. Bernoulli’s theorem. Real fluids. Laminar motion. Poiseille’s law. Thermal equilibrium. Temperature and temperature units. Thermodynamic coordinates. Thermodynamic states. Equation of state of perfect gases. Quasistatic process. Heat and work. Opposition pressure and work of expansion-compression. Specific heat at constant pressure and volume. Joule’s experiment. First law of thermodynamics. Isochoric, isobaric and isothermal transformations. Adiabatic reversible transformation. Poisson’s laws. Statements of the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot cycle. Efficiency of a Carnot cycle. Entropy. Inequality of Clausius. Free expansion of a gas. Entropy and disorder. Notable examples of thermodynamic cycles. Electric charge, electric field and electric potential. Gauss’s law. Charged particles in an electric field. Conductors and insulators. Capacitors. Electricity and Ohm’s law. Magnetic field and its properties. Charged particles in a magnetic field.

Laboratory Practicals (1 CFU, 8 hours):

The aim of the laboratory practicals is to learn the principles and methods of measurement through the use of the most common laboratory instruments and statistical processing and representation of the obtained data. In particular, the following experiments will be considered: elongation of a helical spring and verification of Hooke's law; elongation of an elastic body; quantitative relationships between the physical quantities that describe a uniformly accelerated motion; forces on an inclined plane; determination of density of liquids or solids; action of atmospheric pressure; Archimede's force as a function of the volume and the mass of a body. Each experiment will be done in groups of 5 students. At the end of the laboratory practice, each group will have to prepare a report on all the activities carried out in the laboratory, describing for each experiment the set-up and the data obtained, the executed calculations, the calculated analytical results (expressed with the correct number of significant digits ) and the final discussion / interpretation.

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:

The exam consists of a written test and an oral examination. The student does not have access to the oral exam without having passed the written test. The written test consist of 3 exercises, each containing 2 or 3 questions, covering the content of the entire course. The test is approved when the student has successfully completed at least an exercise and a half (the corresponding vote should be higher than 15/30). During the course semester, there is also the opportunity for the student to take two per-itinere written tests (1st and 2nd per-itinere part), centred on the program treated until then. Each of the two per-itinere tests consists of 3 exercises each containing 2 or 3 questions. The result of a per-itinere test is mediated with the other, provided that the score of each of them is at least equal to 15/30. The students who do not pass one of two per-itinere tests will take the normal written test.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes:

During the oral examination, the student's ability to learn the definition and meaning of physical quantities and to perform demonstrations of physical laws learned during the course will be evaluated. In addition, the group report on the experiments performed during the Laboratory practice will be also considered.

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:

The final mark is expressed in a scale from 1 to 30. The exam is passed when the mark is greater than or equal to 18. Students can be awarded with the honour mark (30 cum laude).

Criteria for conferring final mark:

The final mark is mainly attributed evaluating the oral test and taking into account in a non quantitative manner of the written test mark. The honour mark is given when the student has demonstrated full mastery of the subject.

Lecture notes.

A. Giambattista, B. McCarthy Richardson, R. C. Richardson, "Fisica Generale. Principi e applicazioni", McGraw-Hill, second edition, 2012.

P. Pavan, F. Soramel, “Problemi di Fisica Risolti e Commentati”, Casa Editrice Amborsiana, third edition, 2007

Any physics text for university courses.

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