The Mechanics Section of PHY138Y - 2004

Mechanics is the study of the effects of energy and forces on the motion of physical objects. In PHY138 we will study those areas of mechanics that either have direct applications to the life sciences or that will be needed for subsequent sections of the course. Some of the content of this section of the course will be a review of High Schools Physics, which we will then extend to a deeper level of understanding.

This document contains the following sections:

You may jump to the link for the most recent class by clicking on the arrow to the right.

Except for the first item about the curriculum, the contents of this page duplicates material that is available elsewhere, and is provided as a convenience. For access to the curriculum, textbook references and detailed class summaries, this page is the primary access point.


The table below lists the curriculum and textbook references for the Mechanics section of PHY138. Topics that are in bold-italics are applications to the Life Sciences. Textbook sections that are listed below are examinable; those that are not listed below are not examinable unless otherwise announced. We will also discuss some Supplementary Material which does not appear in the textbook: these topics are also examinable.

It is likely that the listing will change somewhat as the course proceeds. After the class has been given, the topics and text references will be updated if necessary and a link will appear in the More column to a more detailed summary of the class.

Class Major Topics Textbook Reference More
Mon. Sept. 13
  • Introduction to PHY138: the structure of the course
  • Studying Physics
  • Doing well at University
Wed. Sept. 15
  • Units
  • Vectors
  • Dimensional analysis
  • Estimation
  • Coordinate systems
Chapter 1 - Introduction and Vectors
§1.1 - §1.5

Note: we will discuss §1.6 in a later class.
Mon. Sept. 20
  • Scalars and Vectors
  • Vector addition and subtraction
  • Unit vectors
  • Modeling and Problem Solving
  • Speed, velocity, acceleration, distance, displacement.
  • Using derivatives
§1.8 - §1.11

Chapter 2 - Motion in One Dimension
§2.1 - §2.2
Wed. Sept. 22
  • Velocity, acceleration continued
  • Freely falling bodies
  • Projectile motion
§2.3 - §2.7

Chapter 3 - Motion in Two Dimensions
§3.1 - 3.3
Mon. Sept. 27
  • Data and analysis of jumping frogs.
  • Uniform circular motion
  • Tangential and Radial Acceleration
  • Newton's Laws of Motion
  • Ballistocardiogram
§3.4, §3.5

Chapter 4 - The Laws of Motion
§4.1 - §4.7
Wed. Sept. 29
  • Centripetal force
  • Nonuniform circular motion
  • Fundamental forces of nature
Chapter 5 - More Applications of Newton's Laws
§5.2 - §5.3
Mon. Oct. 4
  • The gravitational field
  • Work
  • Scalar or dot product of 2 vectors
  • Introduction to the integral sign
  • Spring-mass system

Chapter 6 - Energy and Energy Transfer
§6.1 - §6.4
Wed. Oct. 6
  • Kinetic energy and its conservation
  • More about jumping frogs
  • Nonisolated systems
  • Extend concept of energy and its conservation to other forms
  • Power
  • Basal metabolic rate
§6.5 - §6.6
Wed. Oct, 13
  • Potential energy, mechanical energy
  • Conservative and nonconservative forces
  • Conservative forces and potential energy
  • Potential energy for gravitational and electric forces
  • Equilibrium and energy diagrams
Chapter 7 - Potential Energy
§7.1 - §7.7
Mon. Oct. 18
  • Momentum and its conservation
  • Impulse
  • Collisions
  • Damage caused to people in collisions
Chapter 8 - Momentum and Collisions
§8.1 - §8.3
Wed. Oct. 20
  • 2-dimensional collisions
  • Angular speed and acceleration
  • Rotational kinematics
  • Rotational kinetic energy: the moment of inertia
Chapter 10 - Rotational Motion
§10.1 - §10.4
Mon. Oct. 25
  • Torque
  • Vector or cross product
  • Rigid bodies
§10.5 - 10.7
Wed. Oct. 27
  • Forces on the hip and femur
  • Angular momentum and its conservation
  • Rolling motion of rigid bodies

§10.8 - §10.9

Mon. Nov. 1
  • Review for the test
All of the above. (The link to the right is to the pdf version of the PowerPoint presentation we used in class.)
Wed. Nov. 3
  • Error analysis: a laboratory topic
Nothing from the textbook, but we will discuss some of the material in §1.6 in a different way.

For your convenience, a pdf version of the classes, topics and textbook references from the above table suitable for printing has been prepared. To access this version click on the button to the right.


Dr. David M. Harrison

Office: MP121B (South-East corner of the 1st floor of the North Wing of McLennan Labs, 60 St. George St.)

Phone: 416 978 2988


Office Hours:

Wednesdays: 2 - 3PM
Fridays: 10 - 11AM

In addition to these hours, you have are invited to call or email for an appointment, or just drop by my office to talk about PHY138Y (or anything else).

Home Page:

Due Dates

There will be 3 assignments due almost every week. Here are brief descriptions of the assignments and when they are normally due:

What Due
Mondays, 5PM in the "Drop Boxes" in the basement of the tower of McLennan Labs, 60 St. George St.
Pre-Class Quiz (WebCT)
Wednesdays at 10 AM.
MP Problem Set (MasteringPhysics)
Fridays at 5PM.

Representative Assemblies

The Representative Assemblies are a mechanism for the staff and students of PHY138 to discuss issues of communication and organisation of the course. We do not talk about the content of the course. There will be three Represenative Assemblies, corresponding to the three days that tutorials meet: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Each tutorial will choose a Representative using any method that they wish.

For the Mechanics section of PHY138, the assemblies will meet on Fridays at 12 noon in MP713; this room is on the 7th floor of the "tower" of McLennan. Here are the days when the Assemblies will meet:

Date Assembly
September 24
Wednesday tutorial
October 1
Thursday tutorial
October 8
Friday tutorial
October 15
Wednesday tutorial
October 22
Thursday tutorial
October 29
Friday tutorial

Quick Links

PHY138 Home Page:

Lab Home Page:

STORM for Checking Marks and Tutorial Group Assignments:

biome: the life science meeting place:

MasteringPhysics for Some Problem Sets:

WebCT for Pre-Class Quizzes:

Getting the latest Acrobat Reader:

Getting the latest Flash player: