Intermediate Laboratory (PHYS*3510)

Code and section: PHYS*3510*01

Term: Winter 2010

Instructor: Jim Davis


Course Information


Lecturer Office Extension Email
J. H. Davis SCIE (new science complex) Room1243 53909

Office Hours

I will be available almost all of the time to help you set up the labs.

Teaching Assistant Office Extension Email
Evan Rand MacN 406 53840

Meeting Time

Day Time Location
Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30 to 5:20 pm MacN 417


Assessment Weight
Formal Labs 60%
Lab Books 40%

Formal lab reports will be written for 3 of the 5 labs selected. For all labs, detailed notes describing the experiments performed, the data obtained, and the analysis of the data, are to be kept in a hard-bound lab book. Students may work outside of normal lab hours be are required to check in with either Dr. Davis or the TA before going into the lab (a record will be kept and will be compared with times entered in the lab books).

The first formal lab and the lab books containing results of the first experiment will be due at the end of week 5, the second formal lab will be due by the end of week 9 and the last formal lab is due at the end of week 12. There will be a penalty for handing in lab reports and/or lab books late. You will be expected to budget your time in order to finish all the necessary work.


During the first two weeks of classes there will be two lectures on radioactivity (Domenico Barillari, Environmental Health and Safety ) and laboratory safety (David Atkinson, Physics).

The large increase in the number of students requires us to change our operating procedures for the advanced labs. We will be asking the students to split into two equal groups, group A and group B. Those in group A will begin experiments next week (week 2) and will have one week to complete the data collection for that experiment. Students in group B will then have access to the equipment in week 3, for one week. The two groups will alternate in this fashion throughout the semester with group A doing experiments during the even weeks and group B doing experiments during the odd weeks. All experiments should be completed by week 11. The labs will be open all day, every week-day to provide maximum flexibility. The TAs will be in the labs during regular class hours and will be ”on-call” the rest of the time. During the ’off-weeks’ the students will write up their results and prepare for the next experiment.

Each student will be required to do 5 of the labs listed on the course web-site, and to keep a careful record of the procedures and results in a hard-bound lab book (no loose leaf). This is common laboratory practice, the purpose being to enable the researcher to refer at any later time to his lab books for any detail which he may have forgotten about how and when the measurements were performed. A good lab book contains enough detail that the researcher can reconstruct everything that was done. A description of the set up is required as well as a description of procedures used. All the raw data obtained needs to be included in the lab book. Preliminary analysis of the results should also be entered there.

For three of the labs the student is required to write a more detailed, formal lab report in the style used for scientific research publications. Thus, each report will include:

  • I. An introduction describing the experiment performed and any relevant background material.
  • II. A materials and methods section describing the experimental details.
  • III. A results and discussion section presenting the data and its interpretation.
  • IV. A brief conclusion presenting a summary of what was done and any suggestions for followup work which might be usefully performed.
  • V. A bibliography giving references to background material, analytical methods used, etc. Since web-sites frequently disappear and/or are changed without notice, these are not considered acceptable references. Always cite the original source.

Plagiarism is a serious matter in science. Proper acknowledgements of others work is imperative. This includes published work as well as the work performed by your class-mates. The material described in your lab books and your formal reports must be your own.

The course web-site has a list of available labs in 6 groups. A sign-up sheet will be posted in the lab. Please update this sheet regularly indicating which experiment you wish to do next so that Dave Urbshas can have the equipment ready when needed.