Physics 122

The aim of this course is to introduce you to the techniques of experimental physics.  In this course you will learn how things work (electronics, detectors, and some optics), how to make measurements, solve problems encountered in experiments, how to analyze data, identify sources and nature of error and estimate their numerical significance on key findings of your experiments, and write up scientific articles on your experimental results.  Like in real life experiments, you will need to find your way through unknowns and failures, these are not cook book type experiments. You will completely "own" your experiment, from design to construction to analysis to publication. Scientific writing is emphasized.

You will work in pairs.  However you will assemble, troubleshoot, record/analyze experimental set ups and data, and write lab reports by yourself.  It is very important that you read the assigned and suggested reading BEFORE class.  Full Pre-Lab reports are due on the first day of a lab.   See the Calendar tab for up-to-date deadlines. You will not have time to come up to speed during lab class.  Your first week is critical.  You should gain sufficient working knowledge of data analysis, error estimation and least squares fitting methods so that you come into your nuclear decay experiment prepared.  You need to get a copy of the required text, Melissinos Experiments in Modern Physics.  You will find Bevington and Robinson Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences a useful reference.

A lab book with large gridded and numbered pages: the Ampad #22-157, 9-1/4" x 11-3/4" is required.  It is available in the campus bookstore [#074319221579], or Amazon: $13. Bring this to the first class.

We have created this website which describes the mandatory and elective labs for this class.   PHY122A and PHY122B are the same course, same class. You are encouraged to explore the various pages for each experiment before the first class.  Read the overview, experiment guides, related material etc, but do not expect the guides to be step by step, cook book manuals.

CRN: Students should inform Amy Folz ( in the Physics Office if they will require Phy 122 in the Winter Quarter or the Spring Quarter 2019. PTA's cannot be assigned without providing this information before Pass 1. The prerequistes will be strictly adhered to.

Physics 122 - Winter 2019

In the first week you will: 

  1. Sign up for two elective experiments (1st, 2nd, 3rd choice) using the form here.
  2. Complete a required lab on Data Analysis.
  3. Start your required experiment, Nuclear Decay.
  4. Read On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research.

In the second week you will explore the Electronics lab and do several experiments using test equipment.

Be sure to complete assigned reading in advance of class, we will frequently give quizzes at the start of class.
Pre-Lab assignments must be handed in at the start of Lab.

Tony Tyson     514 Physics
Dong Yu       203 Physics

Teaching Assistants
Daniel Polin     512 Physics
Clark Travaglini     096 Physics

Meeting Schedule
Tu, Th 2:10 PM - 6:00 PM in 154 &156 Roessler.  
The labs will be available to students M-F 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Entrance via 156 Roessler.

Physics 104A, 105A, 110A, 110B, 115A, and 112. This course satisfies 4 units of the GE writing requirement.

Your letter grade will be based on a combination of "points" and your in-lab performance.  The counting statistics experiment is worth 10 points, lab books and electronic labs are worth 10 points and each of the two elective experiments is worth 40 points.   Pre-Labs form an important component of your experiment grades, and are due at the beginning of class on the first day of starting a new experiment. No credit will be given for late Pre-Labs. Letter grade will also be based class performance including on-time submission of experiment Plans and draft report sections, teamwork, and demonstrated ability to problem-solve. You will not be penalized for not getting the correct answer, rather your grade will depend on how systematically you approach the tasks and solve the inevitable problems.  Note that the goal of this course is not to teach you the right answer but to instruct you how you can figure out the answers. We are here to help and to guide you in this process. We will teach you problem-solving strategies, for instance, by asking questions rather than giving you the answer you might actually seek.

Email Tony to report broken links or other problems with these pages.