Physics 2a: Vibrations and Waves

In Fall 2022, I was one of the TAs for the Caltech course Physics 2a: Vibrations and Waves. My recitation notes can be found below:

  • 2 December 2022: “Daunting Uncertainty”
    • Some Notes about the basic ideas of quantum mechanics, first in the context of a two-state system and then in the context of a particle in an infinite well potential.
  • 30 November 2022: “Smile and Wave”
    • Some practice problems on deriving the phase and group velocities, and calculating them in different physical systems.
  • 18 November 2022: “Setting the Record Straight”
    • Some notes using diffraction in the paraxial approximation to explain why light travels in straight lines, even though it is actually a wave.
  • 16 November 2022: “Getting Tense”
    • A practice problem explaining the circumstances under oscillations on a string with varying tension behave similarly to oscillations on a string with constant tension.
  • 11 November 2022: “Act or Diffract”
    • A practice problem about the diffraction patterns due to two thin slits, due to one finite-size slit, both in the Fraunhofer limit.
  • 9 November 2022: “String Theory”
    • A problem on deriving and then solving the wave equation for the transverse oscillations of a string, on the energy stored in the oscillations, and the decomposition of general oscillations into separable ones.
  • 4 November 2022: “The Ultimate Spring Problem”
    • A problem on deriving and then solving the wave equation for a series of springs.
  • 2 November 2022: “Do the Diagonal Shuffle”
    • Notes on solving systems of linear differential equations using linear algebra, and a practice problem on many “small” springs coupled to a “big” spring.
  • 28 October 2022: “Use the Central Force”
    • Practice problems involving finding the epicyclic frequencies of various central force potentials, including applications to gravity.
  • 26 October 2022: “Duck Tales”
    • Some notes and practice problems related to damped harmonic oscillation in a “rubber duck” toy problem, as well as in RLC circuits.
  • 21 October 2022: “Breath of Fresh Air”
    • A practice problem which uses a combination of dimensional analysis and coupled oscillation to understand why carbon dioxide scatters infrared light.
  • 19 October 2022: “Swing Dance”
    • A forced double pendulum problem which models a child kicking their feet on a swing set.
  • 12–14 October 2022: “Impedance is Futile”
    • Notes on using the complex impedance to solve problems in linear circuits, and some example problems involving filtering in circuits.
  • 7 October 2022: “The Answer to Everything is One”
    • Some practice problems involving guessing the answers to problems across physics using only dimensional analysis.
  • 5 October 2022: “Supernatural Precession”
    • A practice problem involving the “effective potential” orbit problem in both Newtonian mechanics and general relativity.
  • 30 September 2022: “Wired and Loopy”
    • A practice problem involving the equilibria of a bead on a rotating wire loop under the influence of gravity.

Beginner’s Guide to the Universe

The Beginner’s Guide to the Universe is a 2-unit course at UC Berkeley that I founded in 2019 along with Shashank and Shishir Dholakia. It aims to introduce physics/astrophysics non-majors to overarching themes and discoveries in physics, with each week covering a different field of physics.

Basically, my vision for the class is that, one day, our student will pick up a newspaper and see a popular science headline about a new discovery, and have a broad idea of what it is, why it’s important, and what to be skeptical about.

Yonna Kim, who joined the team during the Spring 2020 semester, contributed heavily to the course’s continued development. This course is registered under the course number Astronomy 98. The Beginner’s Guide to the Universe is affiliated with Democratic Education at Cal (DeCal). The syllabus for the first time that I ever taught this course can be found here.

Funny attendance form answers:

Python for Astronomers

Python for Astronomers is a 2-unit course at UC Berkeley designed to introduce astrophysics majors to the Python programming language, as well as to Berkeley’s Department of Astronomy. As such, it does not demand any prerequisites or prior coding experience. Emphasis is placed on application in data analysis settings, particularly with astronomical data sets.

I co-facilitated this course over two semesters, the first time with Makena Fetzer and Orion Lyau, and the second time with Orion Lyau and Alex Ye, with help from Aini Xu, Sabrina Berger, and Ryan Dana. Course syllabi for these semesters can be found here (Spring 2019) and here (Spring 2018).

This course is registered under the course numbers Astronomy 98 (lower division) and Astronomy 198 (upper division). Python for Astronomers is affiliated with Democratic Education at Cal (DeCal).

Funny attendance form answers: