The Mechanics Section of PHY138Y - 2005

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.

This page is the primary reference for the syllabus, textbook references and links to detailed class summaries. The other sections duplicate material that is available elsewhere, and is provided as a convenience.


The table below lists the syllabus and textbook references for the Mechanics section of PHY138.

Textbook chapters, sections and subsections that are listed below are examinable. Textbooks chapters, sections and subsections that are not listed or are explicitly omitted are not examinable unless otherwise announced.

Topics that either do not appear in the textbook or that we discussed in a significantly different way than the textbook are identified with the icon shown to the right. This material is examinable.

Topics that are in bold-italics are applications to the Life Sciences.This material is examinable.

Sometimes a topic will be discussed in a spiral fashion: something is introduced at one point and later that topic is re-visited in more detail. When a topic will be re-visited it is identified with the icon to the right.

It is likely that the syllabus 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. 12
  • Introduction to PHY138: the structure of the course
  • Studying Physics
  • Doing well at University
Class 1 summary
Wed. Sept. 14
  • Motion Diagrams
    • Example: projectile motion
  • Position, velocity, acceleration
  • Vectors
  • Problem solving
  • Units
  • Significant figures
Chapter 1 - Concepts of Motion
Class 2 summary
Mon. Sept. 19
  • More about displacement, velocity, speed and acceleration
  • Using derivatives
  • Introducing the integral sign
  • Free fall
  • Motion on an inclined plane
Chapter 2 - Kinematics: The Mathematics of Motion
Omit subsection of §2.4: A Little More Calculus: Integrals
Class 2 summary
Wed. Sept. 20
  • Vectors and scalars
  • Coordinate systems

  • Newton's 1st and 2nd Laws
  • Inertial reference frames
  • Free body diagrams
Chapter 3 - Vectors and Coordinate Systems

Chapter 4 - Force and Motion
Class 2 summary
Mon. Sept. 26
  • Equilibrium
  • Using Newton's 2nd Law
  • Mass and weight
Chapter 5 - Dynamics I: Motion Along a Line
Omit §5.4 - Friction
Omit §5.5 - Drag
Class 2 summary
Wed. Sept. 28
  • Kinematics in Two Dimensions
  • Dynamics in Two Dimensions
  • Projectile motion
  • Data and analysis of jumping frogs.
Chapter 6 - Dynamics II: Motion in a Plane
Omit §6.4 - Relative motion
Class 2 summary
Mon. Oct. 3
  • Uniform circular motion
  • Circular orbits
Chapter 7 - Dynamics III: Motion in a Circle
§7.1 - §7.4
Class 2 summary
Wed. Oct. 5
  • Fictitious forces
  • Nonuniform circular motion
  • Action/reaction pairs
  • Ropes and pulleys
  • Ballistocardiogram
§7.5 - §7.6

Chapter 8 - Newton's Third Law

Class 2 summary
Wed. Oct, 12
  • Impulse
  • Damage caused to people in collisions
  • Physics of a tennis serve
  • Conservation of momentum
  • Inelastic collisions
  • Angular momentum
Chapter 9 - Impulse and Momentum
Class 9
Mon. Oct. 17
  • Kinetic energy
  • Gravitational potential energy
  • The gravitational field
  • Hooke's Law for springs
  • Elastic collisions
  • Energy diagrams

Chapter 10 - Energy
§10.1 - §10.7
newOmit subsection of §10.6: Using Reference Frames

Class 10
Wed. Oct. 19
  • Work and kinetic energy
  • More about jumping frogs
  • Conservative and non-conservative forces
  • Thermal energy
  • Conservation of energy
  • Power
  • Basal metabolic rate
Chapter 11 - Work
§11.1 - §11.9
Class 11
Mon. Oct. 24
  • Rotation about the center of mass
  • Torque
  • Forces on the hip and femur

Chapter 13 - Rotation of a Rigid Body
§13.1 - §13.3

Class 11
Wed. Oct. 26
  • Moment of inertia
  • Conservation of angular momentum
  • Rotational energy
  • Angular momentum of a rigid body

§13.4 - §13.7, §13,10
Dropping 13.8 is newOmit §13.8 - Rolling Motion
newInclude the Angular Velocity Vector subsection of §13.9; omit the rest of this section

Class 11
Mon. Oct. 31
  • Review for the test
All of the above.
Class 11
Wed. Nov. 2
  • Error analysis: a laboratory topic
Nothing from the textbook, but we will discuss Significant Figures from Class 2 in a different way.
Class 11

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. You also have a hunting license: any time you find me, if I have time I will be pleased to answer your questions.

Home Page:

Important Dates

As discussed in class, to do well in Physics, more than most courses, requires regular effort. Three hours of study each and every week for 5 weeks is more effective than 15 hours of study in one day. In order to help you keep up, we typically have two assignments that are due every week.

Below the letters MP indicate an assignment delivered with MasteringPhysics software.

What Due
Pre-Course Assessment Quiz (MP)
Friday September 16 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #1 (MP)
Monday September 19 at 10AM
Problem Set #1 (MP)
Friday September 23 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #2 (MP)
Monday September 26 at 10AM
Problem Set #2 (MP)
Friday September 30 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #3 (MP)
Monday October 3 at 10AM
Problem Set #3 (MP)
Friday October 7 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #4 (MP)
Wednesday October 12 at 10AM
Problem Set #4 (Written)
Friday October 14 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #5 (MP)
Monday October 17 at 10AM
Problem Set #5 (MP)
Friday October 21 at 5PM
Pre-Class Quiz #6 (MP)
Monday October 24 at 10AM
newProblem Set #6 (MP)
Friday October 28 at 5PM
Tuesday November 1 at 6PM

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