"Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.”
John Maynard Keynes (1963)
The PreClass Quiz due last Wednesday was completed by 1001 students. This is almost the entire class, so the access problems some of you experienced seem to have been mostly resolved.
The average on the quiz was 93%. This is reasonable, but we hope that as you get used to these quizzes it will go even higher!
Reminder: all PreClass Quizzes only test the sections of the textbook for the coming week that are listed in the Curriculum for the course. Sections that are not listed in the Curriculum are not discussed in class, and their content is not tested either on PreClass Quizzes or the Tests and Final Exam for the course.
MasteringPhysics has been used for a few years by dozens and dozens of Universities. Both students and profs have very positive things to say about the software, and a study by Ohio State with one of their big 1st Year courses indicates that it is twice as effective as traditional written problem sets in learning Physics.
Sadly, as use of the software has expanded to more and more Universities, various problems in scaling up their servers and software have been encountered. These include:
We are in contact with the vendor, who promises that these difficulties will be resolved.
I can see statistics on how you collectively are doing on the assignments, including the percentage getting the problem correct, the number of wrong answers, the number of hints you used, and how long the question and the overall assignment took the class. I can also see the same numbers for all students from other Universities who have used the software over the past few years: these involve tens of thousands of students.
Here are the percent correct and average time to complete the questions for the first assignment, due on Sept. 24. For PHY138 this is for 1025 students, essentially the entire class.
Question  PHY138  Others  Comment 

Dimensions of Physical Quantities 
99% correct 5 minutes 
97% correct 6 minutes 

Geometric vs Componentwise Vector Addition 
94% correct 22 minutes 
91% correct 18 minutes 

Running Vectors 
98% correct 3 minutes 
96% correct 3 minutes 

Tossing Balls Off a Cliff 
100% correct 5 minutes 
100% correct 4 minutes 

Overcoming a Head Start 
90% correct 9 minutes 
84% correct 10 minutes 

An Object Accelerating on a Ramp 
100% correct 6 minutes 
98% correct 5 minutes 

Total Time to Complete 
50 minutes 
46 minutes 
Perfect! 
Here are the same numbers for the second MP Problem Set, due last Friday. This is for 1015 students.
Question  PHY138  Others  Comment 

A Mass on a Turntable 
97% correct 2 minutes 
98% correct 2 minutes 

Pulling Two Blocks 
100% correct 3 minutes 
99% correct 3 minutes 
See Note 1 below 
Conceptual Questions on Newton's Laws 
91% correct 19 minutes 
89% correct 14 minutes 

Hanging Chandelier 
77% correct 9 minutes 
80% correct 9 minutes 
See Note 2 below 
Pulley Tutorial 
96% correct 14 minutes 
96% correct 10 minutes 

Applying Newton's Second Law 
91% correct 26 minutes 
88% correct 23 minutes 

Total Time to Complete 
73 minutes 
60 minutes 
See Note 3 below 
Note 1: This problem accepts this form of the correct answer:
T  m_2 * g * sin(theta)
But it will not accept the equally correct negative of this:
m_2 * g * sin(theta)  T
This is a defect in the software which we have reported.
Note 2: One form of the correct answer is:
mg/( sin(theta_1) + sin(theta_2) * cos(theta_1)/ cos(theta_2))
However, at least early on Thursday afternoon September 30 the program would not accept it, and in fact couldn't even parse this answer. Later that afternoon it started accepting this answer as correct. Not only is this difficulty reported, but I have been strongly complaining to the vendor about this.
Note 3: This was a little too long. The problems discussed in the above 2 notes may be partly responsible. In addition, we know that their servers had some stability problems last week: sometimes a question would not be displayed, sometimes it would only be partly displayed, sometimes we got the dreaded "Page not found" error message. I'm complaining strongly to the vendor about this too.
I think we should be optimistic about MasteringPhysics solving their difficulties, and give the software another couple of weeks. Then we will reevaluate.
If these difficulties are resolved, it seems clear that your marks on MP Problem Sets will end up close to 100%, as they should. We will try even harder to insure that they take you no more than one hour to complete, preferrably a bit less. And, finally, we believe that if it functions acceptably the software really will help you learn some Physics.
Nature (and/or the way our minds think about nature) measures angles in radians, not degrees. So does MasteringPhysics. Thus:
sin(90 + theta)
is probably not going to be interpreted as you wish.
sin(pi/2 + theta)
is probably what you meant.
Also, only just over half of you (565 students) have done the Introduction to MasteringPhysics noncredit assignment. There you will learn about this and much more useful information on how to use this software. If you have not done so, I strongly recommend you do this assignment. It should take you about 20 minutes.
The laboratory begins on the day after Thanksgiving. The first laboratory is for section P0201, which meets Tuesday, October 12 at 2PM in MP125/126.
The P0101 lab section begins the same day at 6PM; for students in this section, the next laboratory will be on Monday, October 25 at 2PM.
Check the lab's web page at http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/PHY110_138Lab.html to determine:
Starting the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving break, the DropIn Centre will begin at 10 AM. This is a place where you may go to discussion any question you have about Physics. It is staffed by Teaching Assistants from all the first year courses.
The DropIn Centre is located in McLennan, MP200. This room is on the "cat walk" on the 2nd floor, directly over the main lobby for the building.
You may see the timetable for when the Centre is open at:
The next Representative Assembly will be with the Representatives for Friday's tutorials. It will meet on Friday, October 8, from 12 noon to 1 PM in MP713. This room is on the 7th floor of the tower.
Note that because the University is closed on Monday, October 11, this homework is due in the Drop Box for your tutorial group by 5PM on Tuesday, October 11. It is in pdf format. 
We asked a question about a man stepping off a wooden box in a totally sealed metal box sitting on a scale. 
For Part A, about half the class answered 2) It is less than before he stepped off the box. and about 40% answered 3) It is the same as before he stepped off the box. Inclass discussion did not change these numbers significantly, so I explained that the right answer is 2. Then for Part B, about 80% of the class correctly answered 1) It increases and then returns to the reading before he stepped off the box.
We also asked a question about a ball shot off the top of Mount Everest. About half the class correctly answered 2) approximately g 
We used a Flash animation in our discussion of the scalar or dot product of 2 vectors. 
We know that most of you did not cover integration in Grade 12. We also know that MAT135, which most of you are taking, will not get to this topic until January. So, you will not be asked to know how to do the mathematics of integration until then. Meanwhile, however, there is a common circumstance in which we want to find the area under some curve. We will use the language of mathematics to describe how to do this.
The technique is to take the sum or the areas of a number n of rectangles which are under the curve, and realise that as n goes to infinity this sum goes to the actual area under the curve. This limit is the same as saying the width of the rectangles x goes to zero.
In §6.4 of the text, we are finding the area under a plot of the force F versus displacement x using this infinite sum of infinitesimal rectangles.
Symbolically, we write this sum as shown to the right. 

Of course, eventually we get tired of writing out all of this, so introduce a shorthand notation: 
So, the integral sign only means an infinite sum, and its shape is a stylised S for sum.
I have written a Flash animation illustrating this. For our purposes we only need the first "scene" of the animation. 
You may recall that in Figure 2.1 (c) of the text, the distance was found by calculating the area under a plot of v versus t. We can use our new language to say the the distance is the integral of the instantaneous speed over the time.
Robert Hooke was working on the same problem as Newton at the same time: what is the relationship between forces, masses, accelerations and gravity. They were bitter rivals. Here is a fragment of a statement by Newton about Hooke:
“This carriage towards me is very strange & undeserved, so that I cannot forbeare in stating that point of justice to tell you further … he should rather have excused himself by reason of his inability. For tis plain by his words he knew not how to go about it.”
Newton won the competition, and today we tend to only remember Hooke for his discovery about the relation between the force a spring exerts on an object and how much the spring is stretched. If you are interested, you can learn more about this remarkable man at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/hooke.html.
Here is a Flash animation illustrating his "law" about springs. 