Phys 214, Autumn 2004
Light and Color


Instructor: Chopelas
Office: B436
Office Hours: 

e-mail: [email protected]    
Phones: 543-9586

Class Meeting Time and Location:
PAA A114, MTWThF 12:30 to 13:20 a

Course Description

Slightly edited descriptions from UW General Catalog: Physics 214, 215, 216 are three Physics courses intended for non-science students that can be used to satisfy the Arts and Science Graduation Requirements in "The Natural World" and "Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning" categories. Light and Color (Physics 214) "compares past explanation of certain familiar natural phenomena with present understandings. Lamps and lighting, outdoor light, optical devices, color vision, perspective, paints, and pigments." Quantitative comparison is critical to the course, but college-level mathematics background beyond UW entrance requirement is not required.

What students can expect to learn from this course: Topics will include the physical properties of light, color perception, color mixing, optical devices, polarized light, the evolving history and philosophy of physical models of light, and the physiology of the human eye and visual system.

General method of instruction: Lectures with discussions will be held on WThF 12:30-1:20 PM in PAA A114 with Prof. Chopelas during first week. After that discussion of assigned problems with the professor or teaching assistant will be Tuesdays in PAA A114.  Workshops where students examine various phenomena related to course are planned for Fridays in PAB 125

Recommended preparation for success in the course: Comfortable familiarity with high school level algebra and geometry as required for entrance to UW is an advantage. We try to use as little algebra and geometry as possible, introducing or reviewing what we need. Reasoning and critical observation will be emphasized. A simple calculator with trigonometric functions, logarithms, exponents, and x to power y is required. This course is not intended for anyone who has completed one term of a regular college or university physics course (other than UW Phys 215 or 216) or an accelerated high school physics course.

General nature of assignments: Required readings will be assigned from the text "Light and Color" by UW Emeritus Prof. Halpern available now for about $30 from OUGL Copy Center plus online supplemental reading. Reserved books are at Odegaard for optional reading.  2)Required written homework consisting of discussion questions and assignments of a problem-solving nature will be assigned periodically and generally collected on Wednesdays or Thursdays (check online schedule for due dates, after which the solutions will be made available. 3)There will be two required 50 minute exams but no final exam. The exams are based not only on the text and lectures, but also on homework and workshops. The exams are closed book. Two 8.5 x 11" pages with notes of your choice on both sides will be allowed for exams. There are no make-up exams.  Please see me about scheduling conflicts.  4)  There will be a quarter project which will be discussed in class the first week.  5) After the first exam students may choose to carry out special projects for extra credit which must be discussed in advance.

Basis on which grades are assigned: The following grading scheme is planned for Autumn 2004. The hour exams will comprise 40% of the course grade; the classwork including homework and workshops 20%; the class project will comprise 30%; and class participation will comprise 10%.  There are opportunities for extra credit or makeup of missed assignments.

Other Items
  Learning physics can't be done just by listening to lectures or reading just like bicycle riding or swimming, one needs to actually practice. The workshops provide some practice in handling and observing directly the phenomena discussed and shown in class. Assignments provide a guidelines to the goal of each chapter and review sessions will help focus course objectives. There will be optional outside readings as well as links from this website off the notes page that will help you gain a better understanding of the material in this course. The more practice, the more successful one tends to be in courses such as physics. Hopefully, you will find this practice also a lot of fun as well as useful.


 Last Updated:

Contact the instructor at: chopelas @u.washington.edu