Physics 210


In Physics 210 you get to tackle a Project in lieu of a final exam. Most students think this is a great idea, but those who don't get started on it until the last few weeks of term usually end up thinking it was a terrible mistake. So don't procrastinate. Even if you lack the skills to get started implementing your Project until halfway through the term, you can immediately start exercising your creative imagination and testing your ideas against the judgement of your Instructor and your TAs, who are eager to shoot down your over-ambitious dreams (or the opposite, as needed).

Everyone will give a Project Proposal Presentation (a talk of 7 min followed by 3 min of discussion) at around mid-term, in lieu of a midterm exam. Needless to say, your actual Project will not be done by then; in fact, it is unlikely even to be really started. The whole idea of the Presentation is to get feedback on your idea before you commit to it. For this reason, a large part of your Participation mark will be for the feedback you give to each of your fellow students during the discussions following their talks.

We can discuss the option of having a midterm exam in addition to the presentations, in case people feel it would be helpful in calibrating their progress through this maze of loosely related tasks.

After the Presentations, each of you will help other students with their Projects for the rest of the term by offering suggestions and constructive criticism - and by acting as a "sounding board" to bounce ideas off of. A class wiki is provided to facilitate this. This arrangement is not meant to encourage joint Projects - which are not forbidden, but do require prior approval. ("Dividing up the work" usually reduces learning opportunities.) The majority of your Participation mark will be based on your performance as a Project advisor to your colleagues.

Your final Project Report may take any form, from a traditional journal paper to a mixed-media animation to a stand-alone application with a user interface. No matter what you choose for the format of your final product, it must include a title, an abstract, an explanation of what you did (and how you did it) and a list of references to any other people's work that contributed to your result. In other words, the essential skeleton of a journal paper. This is necessary both to introduce the reader/viewer/user to your Project and to ensure that any work that is not your own is properly attributed. This written part (or the whole Report, if you choose that format) should be typeset using REVTeX4 from the APS Journals website, where you can also see their "Tips for Authors" of papers for The Physical Review and Physical Review Letters. If you are writing a Report in the form of an article intended for a different journal (e.g. Nature or Nature Physics) that prefers manuscripts submitted in Word, then use that journal's guidelines for authors and formatting template. (They all have them.) Otherwise, please stick with REVTeX4. If you need help setting up REVTeX4 on your own computer, just ask.

Because different Project Reports may have different formats, it is difficult to make a ranked list of criteria on which they will be marked. For instance, literary skills will count more heavily in a journal-type paper than in a graphical animation; however, good writing is always expected and graphical representations are also important in a journal article. Every Project Report should include:

  1. The essentials described above: title, abstract, explanation and references.

  2. Some form of graphics - static Figures or animations or whatever.

  3. "Substance" worthy of 40% of your course mark. If you spent an enormous effort on things that were essential but may not be readily apparent in the finished product, this should be described in writing so I don't miss it.

  4. Ingenuity is always rewarded. If you found a clever way to accomplish your goals with less work, that is worth more than the equivalent amount of "slogging"; it should also free you to take it a little further.

  5. Creativity is nice too, but harder to define than ingenuity. I'll stop there before I get into ineluctables.

In the last week of classes, you will give a Final Project Presentation (another talk of 7 min followed by 3 min of Q&A) summarizing what you have accomplished. Feel free to use your .odp, .ppt or .key file from your proposal as a starting template, but don't just give the same talk again. This is your chance to brag; do it masterfully, and have some fun!

UBC Library Resources

You might make use of the UBC Library's free Research Skills workshop (offered several times per term) to learn how to approach a general research problem and familiarize yourself with many of the 'standard' online e-tools, including the Web of Science, the Science Citation Index, how to get the most out of online databases, accessing electronic journals and e-books.

A number of popular journals and academic Physics journals are available in several libraries on campus and accessible online as Electronic Journals from any on-campus host (in the domain) or by using a proxy server, thanks to the UBC Library's sitewide e-journal licenses.

Other Resources and Relevant Journals & Magazines

Your most useful reference is, of course, Google. However, bear in mind that Web URLs cannot be used as references in papers. This is not because they are wrong or untrustworthy. (Some are, but so are many published journal articles!) It is because they are volatile. The URL from which you obtained excellent information today may disappear tomorrow because someone threatened to sue or some government agency declared the information classified. Worse yet, it may may be altered tomorrow to contain just the opposite of today's good data. By all means use Google or Google Scholar or the WikipediA to find published references, but only list the original papers in your bibliography.

Return to PHYS 210 Homepage
Jess H. Brewer
Last modified: Wed Aug 24 13:53:26 PDT 2016