Brian M. Davies, Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Physics at Western Illinois University

Physics 101 (Fall 2015) - Introduction to Astronomy   Syllabus   Class Notes   Sky and weather links   Writing assignment and movies

The second movie in this course is about supernova 1987A. If you couldn't make it to class, you could watch the movie at

The fourth exam in this course will be given on Thursday, Dec. 3. It will cover Chapters 10, 11, and 12.

Extra credit paper - This course requires two papers, but students have asked if they could get extra credit by submitting a third paper for extra credit. I will accept this third paper for a maximum of 6 points. You could watch the movie "The Martian" in a local theatre (or in a big city theatre where you can see it in 3d!) and write a paper on that. Other possibilities are to write a paper on a current topic in astronomy, such as new results from spacecraft that have visited Pluto, Ceres, comet 67P, or Mars. Details of the basic writing assignment are now posted; use the link just above this paragraph.

The textbook for the course is available in the Union Bookstore. The textbook for Fall 2015 is "Discovering the Essential Universe” by Neil F. Comins, 6th edition, 2015. The Physical Science Library (in Currens Hall) has older editions on reserve, and they should be adequate for background reading. I sometimes present newer facts in class, on topics such as exoplanets and Pluto, which are in the news this year.

Comet Catalina - If you are ambitious and have some binoculars, here is an object that you might be able to see in the dawn sky during the winter break.  See 

Physics 124 (Fall 2015) - General Physics I   Syllabus   Homework assignments   Wave simulations and other resources

The next homework set is due on Monday when you return from Thanksgiving Break.

There is no lab this week.

The Physics Tutoring Center is located in Currens 515 (southeast corner on the top floor). It is open from noon until 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The tutors are upper-level physics majors and graduate students who can help you with your homework and with general physics questions.

Courses taught previously at WIU (last time taught at WIU) [number of times taught at WIU]:
Physics 101 (Spring 2015) [14]  -  Introduction to Astronomy  
Syllabus   Class Notes   Sky and weather links   Writing assignment and movies 
Physics 124 (Fall 2014)     [12]  -  General Physics I   Syllabus   Homework assignments   Wave simulations and other resources
Physics 125 (Spring 2015) [12]  -  General Physics II   Syllabus   Homework assignments   Additional Resources   Nuclear lectures (PowerPoint)
Physics 312 (Spring 2010)  [3]  -  Engineering Mechanics   Syllabus   Homework assignments
Physics 327 (Spring 2006)  [1]  -  Electronics   Syllabus   Homework assignments   Books on reserve   Errata for the textbook 
Physics 354 (Spring 2010)  [3]  -  Thermodynamics   Syllabus   Homework Assignments
Physics 427 (Fall 2014)       [6]  -  Advanced Electronics   Syllabus   Homework assignments   Books on reserve   Errata for Diefenderfer's book (no longer used in this course, but may be available on reserve) 
Physics 428 (Fall 2005)       [2]  -  Applied Optics  Syllabus   Homework Assignments   Animations and simulations   Errata for Hecht's 4th edition 
Physics 470 (Fall 2011)       [4]  -  Modern Experimental Physics   Syllabus   Books on reserve
Physics 482 (Spring 2015)  [2]  -  Science in Context (for science education majors) - uses Western Online
Physics 577 (Spring 2006)  [1]  -  independent study - Advanced Optics - homework and activities

ISAAPT - the Illinois section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) - I am serving as the IL section Newsletter editor, and previously served as a member of the IL section Executive Council (our leadership group in Illinois) for six years. I organized the Spring 2007 meeting and the Spring 2013 meeting of the Illinois section, which were held here at the WIU Physics Dept. In the summer of 2007 I was invited to the American Center for Physics to participate in an AAPT Governance Retreat. In 2009 I received the Distinguished Service Citation from the ISAAPT (photo here).  My service as the President of the Illinois section for 2011-2012 is documented on the web site (officers of ISAAPT in 2012 with photos).

My prior professional work experience.
Major grants and contracts.
My publication list (this is on a non-WIU web site and is incomplete)

Miscellaneous stuff:

Talking points about the advanced lab.

Links to online resources and some physics journals of interest to physics students.

I currently serve as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Macomb Food Co-op (which now has an online market at ).

For the panel discussion (April 22, 2010) of the film Carbon Nation, I mentioned the material summarized in this file:
Clarifying the Coal Question, which was a presentation given to the Sustainability Brown Bag seminar series, on Feb. 17, 2009 (summary form only)