Goucher College

Department of Physics

Classical Mechanics


Fall 2011

Text Box: Click here for the class and homework schedule

Dr. Sasha Dukan
Office: G10E
phone: 410-337-6323
Office hours: M 9:00-9:50am, Tu 9:30-10:20am, F 10:00-10:50am and by appointment. Please respect this schedule and make appointment to see me at other times. 




"Analytical Mechanics" 7th Edition, by Fowles&Cassiday, Brook/Cole Publishing. Student is expected to read assigned textbook chapters by the date assigned in the syllabus.

Other Recommended Texts (available in the library and/or my office):

1. Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems, by Thornton and Marion

2. Classical Mechanics, by Chow

3. Classical Mechanics, by Goldstein (more advanced text)


 Course Description

Physics 340  is an advanced undergraduate level course in classical mechanics of particles and systems designed for physics, mathematics or engineering students. Topics include Newtonian Mechanics and Dynamics, Motion in Noninertial Reference Systems, Gravitation and Central Forces, Langrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics, Motion of Rigid Bodies. Symbolic/Numerical programming in Maple is used extensively in problem solving. Pre-requisites: PHY280, MA221 or the permission of the instructor.


 Course Goals

The primary goals of this course are:

* To develop fundamental concepts in mechanics more rigorously than in introductory physics course as it is needed for further studies in physics or engineering.

* To apply advanced mathematical and computational skills to complex and realistic problems of the macroscopic world.

* To help develop analytical skills through the understanding of the theory and application of this knowledge to the solution of the practical problems


 Instructional Methods


Students have an opportunity to learn in depth the undergraduate-level classical mechanics from a variety of sources during the semester, including:

 Assigned textbook readings

 Classroom lectures and discussions

 Occasional computer demonstrations and simulations

 Homework assignments and GoucherLearn presentation of solutions

 In-class problem solving exercises

 Computational problems and projects

 Take-home texts and in-class quizzes

 Discussions with me outside of the class


Classroom time will be mostly centered around the discussions and student participation is required.


 Responsibilities of Students

In order to get the most out of this course:

 Attend each class, arrive on time and come prepared . Read an assigned sections of the textbook before coming to the class to familiarize yourself with notation and topic. Read the relevant section of the textbook with comprehension before attempting to solve homework problems.

 Participate in class by paying close attention to what is presented and offering suggestions or corrections when you think something that is presented is incorrect or confusing.

 Work on and try to complete all homework problems on time. You are encouraged to discuss problems with your peers but, if at all possible, complete these problems without assistance from anyone else. This way you will truly understand the problem and will be prepared for the exams.

 Read the homework solutions and use the opportunity to improve your homework grade by presenting a correct solution orally.

 Make your work neat and carefully organized. If I cant follow your solution then you will not receive a full credit.

 Come talk to me outside of the class frequently. Asking for help or hints with solving problems, or asking for clarification of the lectures or the textbook demonstrates your interest in the subject.



There will be two take-home exams and a comprehensive final exam. Tentative dates which may be adjusted according to a rate at which the material is being covered are listed in the class schedule. Class notes, textbook and homework solutions are the only materials allowed for take-home exams. No discussion of exam problems among students is allowed. Internet (unless otherwise stated on the exam) can not be used as an aid during the exam. Maple (or any other symbolic/numerical package) can not be used unless otherwise stated on the exam. I reserve a right to discuss submitted work with you to examine your understanding of the solved problems. Late




A homework assignment of about 1-5 problem will be assigned each class period. These will be due a next class period according to the class schedule. All the work has to be done analytically except for the problems marked with words use Maple. Otherwise, Maple can be used only to check a solution . An assignment that is handed in late will be penalized with five points taken of from the total score for every hour (including class period) that the assignment is late. Late assignment can be handed in only between 9am-5pm. You are encouraged to work on homework assignments with other students, but this does not mean distributing work load or copying. Use of solution sets that might be available on the internet is not allowed and students are bound by the standards of the Academic Honor Code. Main purpose of a homework is to give you practice in solving problems and prepare you for exams. Solving problems is the most important part of a learning process in this course. Students can improve a homework grade, within one week after the homework has been graded and solutions have been posted, by demonstrating an understanding of a correct solution on a whiteboard in my office. This opportunity does not hold for the problems that have only minor mathematical mistakes.


 Computer Project

In the first week of class a student will be assigned (through a lottery) a computer project selected out of the pool of the end-of -the-chapter computer problems in the textbook. These problems are: C4.1, C5.1, C6.1, C7.3, C8.1. These will be due at the last day of classes. The projects have to be done using Maple (or MatLab).




Your grade will be based upon homework and exams. Grade breakdown is as follows:
Homework : 25%
Take-home Exams: 40%

Computer Project: 10%
Final Exam: 25%

The grade distribution will be as follows:

 numerical grade >90.1%  is A,

 numerical grade between 87.1% and 90% is A-

 numerical grade between 83.1% and 87% is B+

 numerical grade between 73.1% and 83% is B

 numerical grade between 70.1% and 73% is B-

 numerical grade between 67.1% and 70% is C+

 numerical grade between 63.1% and 67% is C

 numerical grade between 60.1% and 63% is C-

 numerical grade between 57.1% and 60% is D+

 numerical grade between  53.1% and 57% is D

 numerical grade between  50.1% and 53% is D-

 numerical grade below 50% is F


Reminder: All students are bound by the standards of the Academic Honor Code, found at