Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: MARIA JOSE' IRENE LO FARO

Expected Learning Outcomes

The learning objective of the course is to provide a complete knowledge of general physics I via the following learning achievements:

  • Knowledge of the fundamental laws of classical mechanics in kinematics, Newton’s laws and the conservation principles. 
  • Knowledge of the dynamics of rigid bodies, oscillators, and fluid mechanics.
  • Solution to problems in Physics related to the topics treated during the course.

In particular, the course aims at developing the following skills:

  • Knowledge and understanding: to build the fundamental knowledge of mechanics and thermodynamics, and the understanding of their mathematical description.
  • Applying knowledge and understanding: To develop and/or improve the ability to identify the key laws in Physics describing phenomena in mechanics or thermodynamics; to correctly apply such laws to solve problems in Physics by appropriate analytical and numerical skills.
  • Making judgments: to provide skills for the estimation of the correct order of magnitude of variables in mechanics and thermodynamics. 
  • Communication skills: to develop and improve presentation skills and learn the language of science. 
  • Learning skills: to apply mathematical tools and theoretical models to problems in Physics.

Course Structure

The teaching method is generally the most congenial to the teaching of Physics 1. In particular, in addition to the classical lecture with the use of a standard blackboard, slides will be used to deepen some specific topics. In addition, multimedia files (video and / or audio) will be used to facilitate the understanding of some topics. In addition to this, teaching in cooperative learning is privileged, in which the classroom becomes a moment of development and apprehension of knowledge. Brainstorming will also be considered (mainly for the resolution of exercises submitted by the teacher) and flipped-classroom in which the students will be directly called into question to explain or illustrate exercises or theoretical topics. The verification method includes self-assessment tests during the entire second semester as well as exam tests with cross-section exercises on the course topics.

Should the circumstances require online or blended teaching, appropriate modifications to what is hereby stated may be introduced, in order to achieve the main objectives of the course. Additionally, exams may take place online, depending on circumstances.

Information for students with disabilities and / or SLD: To guarantee equal opportunities and in compliance with the laws in force, interested students can ask for a personal interview in order to plan any compensatory and/or dispensatory measures, based on the didactic objectives and specific needs. It is also possible to contact the referent teacher CInAP (Center for Active and Participatory Integration - Services for Disabilities and / or SLD) of our Department, prof. A. Pagano.

Required Prerequisites

Notions of elementary and linear algebra (operations, solution of I and II degree equations, solution of linear systems of equations); notions of trigonometry (trigonometric functions and formulas); notions of vector calculus (sum, difference, scalar and vector products); notions of mathematical analysis (concept of limit, derivative and integral, study of functions);

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance is usually mandatory, please refer to the indications of the Department regulation.

Detailed Course Content

Physical quantities and units of measurement. The scientific method. Physical quantities and units of measure. The International System (SI). Scientific notation. Dimensional issues. Fundamental quantities and derived quantities. Measurement errors and approximations. Significant figures. Function approximations.

Scalars and vectors. Scalar and vector quantities. Invariance and symmetry. Vector algebra. Vector analysis: derivatives and integrals of vectors.

Kinematics. Speed, acceleration, and hourly law of motion. Smooth and uniformly accelerated rectilinear motion. Vertical motion. Simple harmonic motion. Rectilinear motion damped exponentially. Plane motion: speed and acceleration. Circular motion. Parabolic motion. Motions in space.

Physical quantities and measure units. The scientific method. Physical quantities and measure units. The International System of Units (SIU). Scientific notation. Dimensionality. Fundamental quantities and derived quantities. Measurement of errors and approximations. Significant figures. Approximation of mathematical functions.

Vector calculus. Scalar quantities and vectors. Invariance and symmetry of systems. Vector calculus: algebra, derivatives and integrals with vectors.

Kinematics. Equations of motion. Linear motion and uniformly accelerated linear motion. Vertical motion. Harmonic oscillator. Damped linear motion. Motion in a plane: velocity and acceleration. Circular and parabolic motion. Motion in the space.

Dynamics of point particles. Newton’s laws. Impulse (step) and momentum. Sum and equilibrium of forces. Examples: weight, friction, viscosity, centripetal force, elastic force, and Hook’s law. Inclined plane. Pendulum. Tension. Frames of reference. Relative velocity and acceleration. Inertial frames of reference. Galilean invariance.

Work and energy. Work, power, and kinetic energy. Theorem of kinetic energy and examples. Conservative forces and potential energy. Non-conservative forces. Conservation of energy. Force vs potential energy. Angular momentum. Central forces.

Systems of point particles. Systems of n point particles. Internal and external forces. Centre of mass. Conservation of momentum. Conservation of angular momentum. König’s theorem. Kinetic energy theorem.

Rigid body dynamics. Properties of a rigid body. Motion of a rigid body. Continuous distribution of mass, density and position of the body mass. Rigid rotations in three dimensions in an inertial frame of reference. Energy and virtual work of forces. Inertia. Huygens-Steiner’s theorem. Pendulum. Pure rolling. Conservation of energy in the motion of a rigid body. Rolling resistance.

Oscillators and waves. Differential equation of a harmonic oscillator. Equation of motion and solution for a simple harmonic oscillator. Mass-spring system: a simple harmonic oscillator. Energy of a simple harmonic oscillator. Sum of harmonic oscillators in one and two dimensions. Damped and driven harmonic oscillators. Resonance. 

Fluid mechanics. Fluids. Pressure. Static equilibrium. Archimede’s principle. Internal friction and ideal fluid’s viscosity. Fluid flow: steady and unsteady flow. Flow rate. Bernoulli’s theorem. Torricelli’s theorem. Pascal’s principle. Laminar vs turbulent flow.

Thermodinamics. Temperature and the zeroth law of thermodynamics; Thermic contact; Thermometers; Absolute scale of temperatures; Thermic equilibrium; The heat; Thermal expansion of solids and liquids; Specific heat and calorimetry; Temperature of equiibrium; Latenet heat; The first law of thermodynamics; Work, heat and internal energy in thermodynamics; Transformation; Peferct gases; Transformations with constant temperature or volume or pressure; Molar specifi heat; The Mayer relation; Adiabatic transformations; The Carnot Cycle; The Carnot principle; The second law of thermodynamics; Entropy; Third law of thermodynamics

Gravity. Central forces. Kepler’s laws. Newton’s law of universal gravitation. Inertia vs gravitational mass. Gravitational fields and gravitational potential energy.

Textbook Information

  1. P.Mazzoldi, M. Nigro, C. Voci: “Elementi di Fisica” Meccanica e Termodinamica, II edizione, casa editrice EdiSES;
  2. Halliday, Resnick, Krane, Fisica 1, Casa editrice Ambrosiana
  3. R. Serwey, J. Jewett: Fisica per Scienze ed Ingegneria, Vol.I, V Edizione,casa editrice EdiSES;
  4. Focardi S., Massa I., Uguzzoni A., Villa M. - Fisica generale - MECCANICA E TERMODINAMICA, Casa editrice Ambrosiana; 

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF REALITY: physical quantities (general information on physics and physical quantities, units of measurement, errors, accuracy and precision of a measurement)Testo 2: Appendice A,Testo 3: Appendice B
2VECTOR CALCULATION: Vectors (general information on vector algebra, properties of the sum, Cartesian representation of vectors in 2D and 3D, scalar and vector product)Testo 2: Appendice B,D, Capitolo 3. Testo 3: Appendice C
3KINEMATICS OF THE SINGLE PARTICLE: Kinematics of material points (general information on the kinematics of the material point, average and instantaneous speed, average and instantaneous acceleration, uniform rectilinear motion, uniformly accelerated motion, parabolic motion, relative motion between 2 points, relativity and Galilean transformations)Testo 2: Capitolo 4-6. Testo 3: Capitolo 1,2,5
4''VARIOUS'' MOTIONS: Dynamics of material points - part II (exponentially damped rectilinear motion, viscous friction force, integral form of Newton's II law) + Rotational mechanics - part I (circular motion, centripetal and tangential acceleration, vector quantities rotational, moment of a force, inertial and non-inertial reference systems, apparent forces)Testo 2: Capitolo 4-6.Testo 3: Capitolo 1-5
5DYNAMICS OF THE SINGLE PARTICLE: Dynamics of material points - part I (general information on the dynamics of the point, Newton's laws, momentum, static and dynamic equilibrium, constraint reactions, weight force, sliding friction force, inclined plane) + Oscillations - part I (simple harmonic motion: elastic force, one-dimensional harmonic oscillator, mass-spring system)Testo 3: Capitolo 1,3
6WORK, POWER AND ENERGY: Mechanical energy and conservative systems (work, power, kinetic and potential energy for a material point; conservation of mechanical energy; work and potential energy for weight, elastic and constant forces; work of the sliding friction force)Testo 2. Capitolo 7. Testo 3: Capitolo 4
7OSCILLATOR PHENOMENA: Oscillations - part II (simple pendulum, damped harmonic oscillator, forced harmonic oscillator)Testo 2: Capitolo 15-18. Testo 3: Capitolo 3,10
8RIGID BODY DYNAMICS: Rigid body + Rotational mechanics - part II (moment of inertia, Huygens-Steiner theorem, combined translation and rotation motions, rolling friction, moment of impulse theorem for rigid bodies) + Oscillations - part III ( physical pendulums) + Elasticity (deformations of solid bodies, elastic constants, torsion pendulum) Testo 2: Capitolo 10-12. Testo 3: Capitolo 7
9GRAVITATION: Central Forces Kepler's Laws. The Law of Universal Gravitation. Inertial mass and gravitational mass. Gravitational field and gravitational potential energy.Testo 2: Capitolo 13, Testo 3: Capitolo 11
10DYNAMICS OF SYSTEMS OF MATERIAL POINTS: Collisions and systems of material points (general information on systems of material points, internal and external forces, center of mass, theorem of motion of the center of mass and of the angular momentum, reference system of the center of mass, Koenig's theorems for angular momentum and kinetic energy, kinetic energy theorem for a system of points, shock phenomena and impulsive forces, collisions between 2 bodies)Testo 3: Capitolo 6,8
11FLUIDOSTATICS AND FLUID DYNAMICS: Fluids: liquids and gaseous. The perfect fluid modeling. Average and absolute density for a fluid, relative density. Pressure and unit of measure, shear stress. Fundamental equation of fluid statics; Stevino's law; Torricelli's experience; Pascal's Principle; trend of atmospheric pressure with altitude; the principle of Archimedes. Lagrangian and Eulerian description for moving fluids. Stationary regime.Testo 2: Capitolo 14
12ThermodynamicsMazzoldi, Nigro, Voci: “Fisica Vol. 1 – Meccanica e Termodinamica. Seconda edizione.” (EdiSES) & D. Halliday, R. Resnick, J. Walker ''Fondamenti di Fisica'' (2015) Casa Ed. Ambrosiana 

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

The exam consists of a written test and an optional oral test.

The written test, evaluated in 30/30, proposes exercises and open questions on the topics covered during the course, whose passing determines a final grade.

The oral exam will take place at the request of the student and will consist of a check on all the contents of the course.

There are NO EXEMPTION TESTS or ITINERE TESTS during the course of the PHYSICS I course.


The written test is PASSED if the student achieves a mark greater than or equal to 18/30. Those who pass the written exam have the right to request the oral exam to demonstrate a more in-depth knowledge of the course.

For the written test, there are 2 sessions in the first exam session period, 2 sessions in the second exam session period and 2 sessions in the third exam session period.

There are also 2 sessions reserved for students who are out of course and laggards (paragraphs 5 and 5 bis of the university teaching regulations) during the suspension of teaching activities, generally in the period April / May or November / December.

There are no further exams beyond those approved by the didactic secretariat.


In case of passing the written test, the student can optionally take the oral test WITHIN and NOT BEYOND the end of the exam session in which he took the written exam, after which the written exam will be CANCELED.

If the oral exam fails, applicants MUST repeat the written exam.

The dates of the oral exam for each SESSION (I, II, III or EXTRAORDINARY) will be communicated at the beginning of the session for each session by means of a notice on the Studium/teams platforms as well as communicated at the time of the written exam.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The questions and exercises proposed in the exams refer exclusively to contents proposed during the lessons.


-discuss inertial and non-inertial reference systems, presenting some real examples.

-Prove Bernoulli's theorem.