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- UCAS institution code
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Physics in Everyday Life
|Unit level||Level 1|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Department of Physics & Astronomy|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Physics in Everyday Life
To use physics to explain a variety of phenomena and devices in everyday life
This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates
On completion successful students will be able to:
- use the method of dimensions to help solve problems in physics
- use orders of magnitude and estimations
- describe and explain the physics basis of various everyday atmospheric phenomena
- describe and explain the physics underlying various aspects of the human body, including sight and hearing
- discuss how physics can be applied to sport
- explain the physics behind a number of devices in modern technology
1. Everyday life in context [2 lectures]
Units, length, energy and time scales in physics; the method of dimensions; estimating; ordering of magnitude.
2. Physics in the Earth’s atmosphere [6 lectures]
The Sun; the Earth’s atmosphere as an ideal gas; pressure, temperature and density; Pascal’s Law and Archimedes’ Principle; Coriolis acceleration and weather systems; Rayleigh scattering; the blue sky; the red sunset; refraction and dispersion of light; the rainbow.
3. Physics in the human body [5 lectures]
The eyes as an optical instrument; vision defects; Rayleigh criterion and resolving power; sound waves and hearing; sound intensity; the decibel scale; energy budget and temperature control.
4. Physics in sports [5 lectures]
The sweet spot; dynamics of rotating objects; running, jumping and pole vaulting; motion of a spinning ball; continuity and Bernoulli equations; Bending it like Beckham; the Magnus force; turbulence and drag.
5. Physics in technology: [4 lectures]
Microwave ovens; the Lorentz force; the Global Positioning System; CCDs; lasers; displays
Feedback will be available on students’ individual written solutions to examples sheets, which will be marked, and model answers will be issued.
There is no single recommended text. Where appropriate, examples will be taken from Young, H.D. and Freedman, R.A. University Physics (Addison Wesley)
Regular issues of New Scientist and Scientific American
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.5|
|Independent study hours|
|Henggui Zhang||Unit coordinator|