1;95;0c Ph3

Ph3 - Caltech Introductory Physics Laboratory

Course Description

Ph3 is a one-term, introductory-level course in experimental physics. It is offered during Fall, Winter, and Spring terms.

Lab is once per week for three hours. There are three sections available, and each section is divided into four tracks, based on the order in which you will do the experiments. Class times and locations are

OM: 308 East Bridge 2:00pm-2:30pm Monday, April 1 only

Wednesday Section: 308 East Bridge 1:00pm-4:00pm
Thursday Section: 308 East Bridge 1:00pm-4:00pm
Friday Section: 308 East Bridge 1:00pm-4:00pm

Lab work is done during class time. There are no lectures.



  1. National Brand 43-648 Lab Notebook or stitch-bound equivalent.
  2. John R. Taylor, An Introduction to Error Analysis , (2nd edition), University Science Books (1996) ISBN-10: 093570275X

Grades, writeups, and lab notebooks

You must do all the labs and hand in a notebook for each to pass the course.

There are no formal reports or presentations. Grades are based on lab notebooks and homework and are weighted as follows.

Lab Notebooks 50%
Taylor Homework 40%
Mathematica Homework 10%

Later lab notebooks are weighted more heavily than earlier ones.

All writeups in your lab notebooks should contain at minimum

For an example of a good lab notebook, see


Do your homeworks on a separate sheet of paper, rather than in your lab notebook, and turn them in at the beginning of class on the day they are due. A designated homework TA will then grade them in class while you work on the lab, so that you can get immediate feedback. If you have any questions you may consult with the homework TA in class. If you want to correct anything you got wrong, you are welcome to do so in class as well. Final deadline for turning in homework is the end of class on the day it is due.

Collaboration policy: You may collaborate with anyone you like on your homeworks. Just be sure to give them credit by listing their names at the top of your sheet. If you work in a big group and don't remember everybody's name, list as many as you do remember, and then put "and others."


The following schedule applies to all sections and tracks.

Due Dates Reading Taylor Homework Mathematica Homework Lab Notebook Due
Apr. 3-5 Taylor ch. 1-2 Taylor 2.3, 2.19, 2.27, 2.31 Getting started Lab 1: Session 1 Notebook for TA comments
Apr. 10-12 Taylor ch. 3-4 Taylor 3.2, 3.3, 3.26, 3.30, 3.50, 4.13, 4.18 Plotting Lab 1: Session 2 Notebook for grade
Apr. 17-19 Taylor ch. 5 Taylor 5.4, 5.15, 5.25, 5.28, 5.33, 5.36 Importing Lab 2: Session 1 Notebook for TA comments
Apr. 24-26 Taylor ch. 6-7 Taylor 6.3, 6.6, 6.7, 7.4, 7.6 Fitting Lab 2: Session 2 Notebook for grade
May 1-3 Midterms: Lab Closed
May 8-10 Taylor ch. 8 Taylor 8.4, 8.14, 8.23, 8.24 Exporting Lab 3: Session 1 Notebook for TA comments
May 15-17 Taylor ch. 9 Taylor 9.7, 9.11, 9.16 Programming Lab 3: Session 2 Notebook for grade
May 22-24 Taylor ch. 10-11 Taylor 10.10, 10.22, 11.6, 11.9, 11.12 Statistics Lab 4: Session 1 Notebook for TA comments
May 29-31 Taylor ch. 12 Taylor 12.2, 12.10, 12.14 Monte-Carlo Methods Lab 4: Session 2 Notebook for grade

Tracks are arranged according to,

Lab Track 1 Track 2 Track 3
1 Test Equipment and Data Acquisition Test Equipment and Data Acquisition Test Equipment and Data Acquisition
2 Harmonic Oscillator Interferometry Ion Trap
3 Interferometry Ion Trap Harmonic Oscillator
4 Ion Trap Harmonic Oscillator Interferometry

Lab handouts


Contact Information

PMA - Caltech Department of Physics, Math, and Astronomy.

Other physics courses at Caltech.


Last updated April 11, 2019.