PH350 Classical Physics (Fall 2009)

This is the home page for the course PH350 (Classical Physics) being offered to IIT Madras undergraduates as a part of the minor program in Physics.

Objectives: This is the first course in the Physics minor stream at IIT Madras. It introduces the students to aspects of classical mechanics, statistical physics and to elementary ideas in special relativity.


Two scheduled quizzes 15x2 30%
Three surprise quizzes* 10x2 20%
Final 50x1 50%
Total 100%

*Best two contribute to the grade (I haven't forgotten my arithmetic!).


There will be several ungraded assignments that will be handed out to the student.

Did I learn anything in this course?

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Course Notes

I plan to include notes (or links to notes by others) on various topics that are discussed in the class lectures.

Handout 1: Scalars, Vectors & Tensors || Handout 2: Lie groups and Lie algebras || Symplectic Matrices || The state of a system || Recap of Thermodynamics || Phase Transitions || Handout 3: Phase transitions of real gases|| Special Relativity || Handout 4: Electromagnetism and Special Relativity || Handout 5: Relativistic Kinematics -- the Compton effect

Online Resources

Prof. Balakrishnan's Classical Physics Lectures on Youtube (Lec 1 on scales is a must view)

Prof. J. B. Tatum's book on Heat and Thermodynamics

Prof. Somen Bhattacharjee's SERC lectures on Critical Phenomena (of a somewhat higher level but the first few sections are worth the effort!)

English Translation of Einstein's 1905 SR paper — This is worth taking a look.

Official Course Content

Fun stuff

If you have seen the following xkcd cartoon for the rotation matrix,


here is one for a Lorentz boost (courtesy Naveen Sharma):


Last year, this was handed out as an ‘assignment’ to the Physics minor students by me. If you can do any better than Naveen, show me your version.

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