University of Wisconsin-Madison Skip navigation
Lectures:               MW & ocassionally on Fridays 8:50 - 9:40 AM in 2103 Chamberlin Hall
Honors Lectures:  F 8:50 - 9:40 AM in 2103 Chamberlin Hall, optional except for honors students
Instructor:            Professor Peter Timbie
Discussion:           led by Graduate Student TA, 2 hrs/week; Drop-in Homework/Consultation available 12 hrs/week
Lab:                       led by Graduate Student TA, 3 hrs/week


UW Home Page




Sir Isaac Newton

picture of newton


Ludwig Boltzmann

picture of newton

Caroline Herschel

picture of newton

Sophie Germain

picture of newton


  • Welcome to Physics 207: General Physics!
  • Mechanics, Heat, and Sound
  • The main course website is at Learn@UW
  • See below for course overview & textbook requirements


Course Overview

Physics 207 is a calculus-based introduction to physics taken mainly by students majoring in one of the sciences.  It is taught as a 'blended course:'  Students read the text, listen to an online 'prelecture' and answer 'checkpoint' questions before coming to class.  Classtime, discussions and labs are devoted to building up problem-solving skills and applying physics by working in small groups.

We are using what I consider the best textbooks available.  I've also tried to keep costs as low a possible.  Please read carefully:

* The *required* textbook is 'SmartPhysics' (by Gladding, Selen and Stelzer).   The online portion of this book includes the prelectures and checkpoints.   (The online book also has homework problems for extra practice. These are different from the regular online homework from Mastering Physics - see below.)  You can get the hardcopy text bundled with an access card for the online portion for $56.25 at the bookstore.  The hardcopy text is very similar to the online prelectures, so I recommend you just buy the access card ($37.50 at bookstore). 

* The *required* online homework is called 'Mastering Physics.'  You can get access to MP for $66 (details below). (See below also for getting MP bundled with the e-book version of the optional text by Knight.)

* An additional *recommended/optional* text is  'Physics for Scientists/ Engineers: A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics (3rd edition)' by Randall. K. Knight.  This textbook has lots of examples and images and is much more voluminous than SmartPhysics (the main, required textbook)  You may find it useful for clarifying some of the ideas from SmartPhysics, but many students last semester didn't use it.

The hardbound version of this book is expensive, but this is the same text that is used in the next semester of the course, Physics 208.
  You can also use the 2nd edition for Physics 207 and 208 (used is ~$60 at bookstore). Hardbound copies are on reserve in the Physics Library.  A great way to cut costs is to get the e-book version of the textbook bundled with Mastering Physics. Here are your options:
- You can buy the hardbound version in the bookstore, bundled with an access code for Mastering Physics and the ebook version of the text for $240 ($180 used).  Again, this text and MP will be used for both P207 and P208.
- You can buy a *24 month* license to the e-book along with access to  Mastering Physics for $110 using this link. (Our CourseID is PHYSICS207FALL2013.) 
- In any case you must buy access to Mastering Physics (same link, $66 without the e-book) so you can do your homework. 

* The Lab Manual is available in the bookstore and is *required*.

* An 'iClicker' is *required* for answering questions in class.  This is the standard clicker for UW and works in other classes too.  It's available in the bookstore and can be sold back to them later.

Learning Goals

a.  Learn basic physical principles (forces, conservation of energy, etc.)

b. Solve problems using both quantitative and qualitative applications of these physical principles

c.  Overcome misconceptions about the behavior of the physical world

d.  Understand the range of applicability of physical principles, particularly to the each student’s particular field of study

e. Apply physics to topics not explicitly covered by the course

f.  Appreciate the excitement of physics

g. Make quantitative measurements of physical phenomena and understand the statistical significance of observations made in the presence of statistical and systematic uncertainties.



Image from


  © 2004 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Top of Page