Physics 50

Course description

Physics 50 is introductory calculus-based mechanics. This course is taken by students majoring in engineering and the physical sciences, including chemistry, meteorology, math, computer science, and of course physics. It has a lab that meets 3 hours per week.


<iframe src="" width="640" height="480" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">Welcome to Physics 50 at San Jose State University</a> from <a href="">ProfKress</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Lab Manual

The lab manual is available for purchase ($10) from the Physics Student Clubroom, which is on the second floor of the Science Building, room 239. Check the lab syllabus for which topics will be covered in lab each day; most of the lab activities are already in the manual.


All students taking this course must be proficient in algebra, geometry, trigonometry and differential calculus. This means that you must have earned a grade of C or better in Math 30 or 30P or 30PL here at SJSU or the equivalent course at another university, or a grade of 3 or better in AP calculus AB in high school. Math 71 (calculus for business and aviation majors) does not suffice. This is not our decision and it is not within our power to waive this pre-requisite. Please note that your degree program requires Math 30 (not 71) so that is another reason we enforce these pre-reqs. Even if you can get away with skipping pre-reqs now, you'll hear about it later when you apply for graduation.

Integrals are used occasionally at a conceptual level or in homework, but detailed calculations involving integrals typically are not on exams.

We do check transcripts to make sure that all students enrolled in Physics 50 meet the pre-requisite. If you have taken Math 30 or 30P here at SJSU, you do not need to email your transcript to me. If you have taken Math 30 or 30P somewhere other than SJSU, chances are that your transcripts have not yet been processed, which means you will be unable to register without an add code. Also, you must be declared in a science or engineering major, otherwise you will also be blocked from registering. Students who have not yet completed remediation in English cannot take this course until they do so.

Adding or changing sections

If you wish to change sections of lecture or lab, this involves dropping the course entirely and re-adding with a permission number (aka, "add code"). Because we are so full, you run the very real risk of losing your seat entirely. Do not hope for "seats to open up" because the course will only be getting fuller. I do over-enroll lectures slightly in anticipation of a few people dropping out just before the deadline. If you wish to switch sections, you need to request an add code. You can do so by following the instructions here.

Physics 50 vs. Physics 2a

Physics 50 is not the same course as Physics 2a. Physics 2a is algebra-based and does not have calculus as a pre-requisite. Physics 2a covers more topics than 50 does, at a less quantitative level. The big difference between the two is that 2a covers thermodynamics and 50 does not. Physics 2a/2b are taken by students majoring in the biological sciences, aviation, and industrial technology. Physics 2a does not serve as a pre-requisite for Physics 51, but Physics 50 sometimes can substitute for 2a. Your degree program may or may not allow you to substitute Physics 50 for Physics 2a. It is best to ask your major adviser or your department chair whether this substitution is permissible. It is not my decision whether these are interchangeable in your degree program.