Physics307L F09:Schedule/Week 1 agenda/Introduction

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Steve Koch, Assistant Professor, Experimental Biophysics

Pranav Rathi, Graduate Student, Teaching Assistant


Take photos and self introductions. Favorite physics course so far? What classes this semester? Plans for after undergrad?

Course overview


  1. Course Description: Experiments in modern physics and experimental methods.
  2. Goals for Junior Lab from MIT OpenCourseWare:
    The purposes of Junior Lab are to give you hands-on experience with some of the experimental basis of modern physics and, in the process, to deepen your understanding of the relations between experiment and theory, mostly in atomic and nuclear physics. You will do experiments on phenomena whose discoveries led to major advances in physics. The data you obtain will have the inevitable systematic and random errors that obscure the relations between the macroscopic observables of our sensory experience and the ideal laws that govern the submicroscopic world of atoms and nuclei. You will be challenged to learn how each of the experimental setups works, to master its manipulation so that you obtain the best possible data, and then to interpret the data in light of theory and a quantitative assessment of the errors. We think you find satisfaction in observing, measuring and understanding phenomena many of which would have won you the Nobel Prize if you had discovered them.--MIT OpenCourseWare
  3. Purpose from last year's lab manual (Dr. Gold): "Physics is science, hence based on experiment. The majority of research physicists do experiments and make measurements. This course is meant as an introduction to modern experimental techniques. In this course you will:
    • apply the theory you have learned in the real (experimental) world;
    • learn how to use various types of hardware, instrumentation, and software;
    • learn basic statistics, error analysis, and determination of statistical and systematic errors;
    • perform the best possible (i.e. the most precise and accurate) experiment within the constraints of the available resources (equipment, time, etc.) - just like in real research!"


What will be the format?

  • Practical lecture on Monday (required)
  • Two weeks of lab session per lab.
  • Very good electronic lab notebooks (on OWW) for ALL labs
  • Informal written summaries for all labs
  • Formal write-up for one lab (rough draft in early November, final draft in December)




The Provost requested that we talk with you about flu at the start of this semester. It's not a bad idea, actually. I have no idea whether swine flu will be awful this season, but it's true that every year students get sick a lot more often than they have to. /Provost note

  • First, you should know this: Wakefield faked data on autism
  • If you're sick, please do stay home. No doctor's note required.
  • No kissing in the lab
  • Wash hands with soap and water. Use sanitizer after kleenex!