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


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 8
Hours 64
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code ST01 3S005


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).

Development of the course

The course includes theoretical lectures (6 credits, 48 hours), classroom exercises (1 credit, 8 hours) e a Physics Practical Laboratory works, attended in small groups (1 credit, 8 hours). Course attendance, although not mandatory, is strongly recommended. Attendance to the Physics Practical Laboratory is mandatory. Many dates to attend Physics Practical Laboratory are available and can be booked via web in the e-learning platform dedicated to the students in the Department of Life and Environmental Science website.

Learning outcomes

The course focuses on 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 framework of the life and environmental sciences. The course presents the fundamentals of theoretical and experimental Physics (mechanics, fluid properties, thermodynamics, electric and specialties magnetic properties) necessary for graduate study in interdisciplinary disciplines requiring a strong scientific background.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
Students must acquire a rigorous, quantitative and analytic way of thinking and dealing with physical phenomena. In particular, students have to learn the laws of General Physics and to appropriately apply them to interpret the basic phenomena involving movement, energy and thermal, electrical and magnetic properties of matter. Also students have to know how properly use the units of the common physical quantities and know the conversion factors between homogeneous units. 
Students have to be able to apply the laws of Physics to solve numerical exercises and to communicate the method used to obtain their solution. Finally, students should be able to show understanding of the scientific method used to measure and critically interpret the physical phenomena observed during practical laboratories.

Soft skills:
The activities carried on during the practical laboratories and laboratory reports’ compilation, developed in a working group, will stimulate and improve student's autonomy and communication skills. Moreover, the analysis of data collected during the experimental activities and the exercises performed to solve the physical problems will help the students to exploit the mathematical and statistical concepts learned in previous courses.


Contents (classroom lectures, 6 CFU, 48 hours):
Introduction to Physics and its methods. Physical quantities and measurements. Concepts of space and time. Kinematics of a particle: definition of the position vector, velocity and acceleration. Trajectories and laws: uniform motion, uniformly accelerated rectilinear motion, circular motion, uniform circular motion. Dynamics: Newton's laws, notable examples of forces. Angular momentum and moment of a force, conservation of angular momentum. Centre of mass. Equilibrium of a rigid body and rotational dynamics. Work and energy. Conservation of mechanical energy. Non-conservative forces. Elastic and inelastic collisions. Fluid mechanics: definition of ideal fluid. Properties of fluids. Definition of pressure. Stevin's law. Archimedes' principle. Pascal's law. Continuity equation. Bernoulli's equation. Real fluids. Laminar motion. Poiseille’s law. Thermodynamics: Zeroth law of thermodynamics. Definition of absolute temperature. Specific heat. Heat capacity. State transformations. Latent heat of transformation. Thermodynamic systems: ideal gas and its equation of state. Heat, work and internal energy. Principles of thermodynamics. Reversible and irreversible thermodynamic processes: isochoric, isobaric, isothermal and adiabatic. Cyclic transformations and efficiency of thermodynamic machines. Carnot cycle and its efficiency. Entropy. Inequality of Clausius. Electric charge, electric field and electric potential. Charged particles in an electric field. Conductors and insulators. Capacitors. Electricity and Ohm’s laws. Magnetic field and its properties. Charged particles in a magnetic field. RC as equivalent circuit model for a patch of neural membrane. 

Laboratory Practicals (1 CFU, 8 hours):
The aim of the practical laboratories is to teach students the principles and methods of measurement using the most common laboratory instruments, basic statistical processing, and data graphical representation. In particular, students will perform the following experiments: elongation of a helical spring and verification of Hooke's law; elongation of an elastic body; quantitative relationships between the physical quantities describing a uniformly accelerated motion; forces on a sloping plane; determination of liquids’ or solids’ mass densities; action of atmospheric pressure; Archimede's force as a function of the volume and the mass of a body. Each experiment will be carried out by 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.

Development of the examination

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.

Recommended reading

Lecture notes.
A. Giambattista, B. McCarthy Richardson, R. C. Richardson, "Fisica Generale. Principi e applicazioni", McGraw-Hill, second edition, 2012.
Fisica. Vol. 1: Meccanica e termodinamica. -Ferrari V., Luci C., Mariani C.- Idelson-Gnocchi 
Fundamentals of Physics – D. Halliday, R. Resnick), J. Walker- Wiley

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