course
General Physics Lab I

Dec 2010

Though Diedi Hu in her gray and pink argyle cardigan is possibly the sweetest and most demure person I've ever stepped on, the language barrier did come to be a problem at many a point throughout the class. Diedi is clearly a competent well informed person, but it was hard to draw that out from her. My lab group would try and try to have her explain concepts or practical aspects of the lab, until part of the way through the semester we realized it was better to do it all on our own and not wait for Diedi's semi-comprehensible help. This isn't to say Diedi isn't a great person or decent instructor. She fed us any formulas we needed to derived in her instruction period before the class and went over the concepts of the lab already explained in the lab packet. It was thus really up to the student to decide if they wanted to do any prep work - I personally did just so I could be on top of what needed to be done. Towards the beginning of the semester Diedi allowed me to stay late on the already late class to complete it, but the last few labs which got easier I was readily out only an hour and a half later thanks to my lab partners. Diedi is a sweet person, kind to the mild jokes we throw her way about the lab - but at the end of the day she knows she grades your labs. And significant digits count. Ridiculously.

Dec 2009

The guy knows his stuff, obviously, as he got in Columbia's grad physics program. Although he is good at explaining the material, he goes by the material very fast, making it difficult for us non-physics majors to catch on. Additionally, he grades very harshly and is not very nice to his students. His grading is very dependent on his mood. He can be somewhat rude during his bad days. If you want to take general physics lab, I would NOT suggest to take Pontus. Any of the other TAs will grade easier than this guy. For 1 unit, he grades extremely harshly, regardless of how much work you put in the laboratory class. Pontus is also notorious for grading extremely harshly on any classes he TA for, so beware. His grading is also very random so you're out of luck there.

Dec 2008

This class is terribly, terribly designed. Why do the labs not coincide with lecture? Why do we do 3 optics labs when we haven't done optics yet? You have no choice as a premed (well, I guess you could take 1493 lab, but this much easier so I wouldn't recommend it), so sorry. Most of the TAs can't speak English (like Chen... who by the way only grades numbers and graphs and basically ignores the conclusion and anything else with words, which is a mixed blessing) and thus you often are left struggling to figure out why your numbers don't work and then making up numbers that work mathematically. (Chen is oblivious, so you don't actually have to perform the lab half the time, just hand something in) Or they arbitrarily take points off and will not budge, do to language barrier or other reasons (don't even bother arguing with Chen, she won't budge) You will learn nothing and come out frustrated. WHY IS THIS ONE CREDIT FOR A THREE HOUR CLASS?

Jan 2006

Igor was my Physics lab TA Fall 2005- granted it was his first time TA'ing a Columbia class- he is a first year grad student and not much older than undergrads. The issue with Igor is that he makes an already painful 1 credit class even more painful. Everyone knows that physics lab is 1 credit, curved to an A-, and TAs and students mail it in. Sometimes I felt like Igor thought he was teaching a 3 credit class. No other lab section had parts ADDED to their lab. Very few lab sections actually had to work through the algebraic deivations of the equations-- I just copied the derivations I had from friends who had taken it in previous years and had TAs who gave it to them. His made up"pre-lab" questions at the beginning were really time consuming- and the depth of the conclusions he expects us to write really goes beyond the scope of an introductory 1 credit lab.

Nov 2005

Hands down, the best TA I have ever had. Heck -- one of the best *teachers* I've had at Columbia. Jeremy is not only a physics genius but a gifted instructor able to explain the most difficult concepts with wit, brevity, legible handwriting and clear chalkboard diagrams. He's also a generous grader and a very, very, very nice guy. I actually enjoyed physics lab most of the time (GASP!). If there's any justice in the world, Jeremy will get tenure at a big- name university before he's 30. If he wins a Nobel Prize... you heard it here first, folks. But I doubt he'll win one -- because he spends too much time and attention on undergraduates. This guy was born to teach. He cares too much about us (at the expense of his own career).

Nov 2004

I completely disagree with the previous reviews. Oleg is a really nice guy who is willing to help you out in lab. I have never been to lab office hrs, and I'm doing fine in the class.

Nov 2004

Oleg gives a lesson before lab and derives all formulas that you may need, he is available for your questions on how to conduct the experiement and how to calculate error. As with most premed classes, there is a high level of competition, as he grades the labs based on the level of the class. I can definitely vouch for the fact that he does not kick you out early, as I have struggled hard to get my lab in at the buzzer each week!

Sep 2004

Brandon's laidback style well-received by class. Pre-lab writeups of any kind not allowed, though several flaunted this rule. Grading seemed arbitrary with little evidence or explanation for point deductions. Students not once told how they were doing relative to other students gradewise. Affable, likeable character interested in making labs fun and reducing stress. A-pluses supposedly not given. You could do much worse.

Sep 2004

Graded fairly, yet treated me with thinly veiled contempt. Some students didn't read labs at all before class, and I suspect they didn't fare well gradewise. I strongly advise you visit the physics lab display room each week where the labs are set up (more or less) for viewing. Prepare before you go, ask questions, and learn the tricks and pitfalls of that week's lab. Any formulas that the labs asked us to derive were given to us by Will in class.

Apr 2004

What to say about Professor Tuts. I will say that he is a good lecturer, I absolutely hate physics but Professor Tuts was able to make the class fly by with his little jokes about his bald spot and whatnot. In the beginning of the semester, I actually believed that he was probably the greatest science professor I ever had because for someone having 2 Ph D's, is a graduate of MIT, and is a brilliant physicist, he was able to "dumb" down the material and present physics on a level that everyone could understand, which for someone like me, was great. All the changed after our first exam, which was brutal. No matter how hard you study, do practice problems and ace the problem sets, you will not be prepared for the exam. The exams are so beyond the scope of the course that you will feel like you're a moron and have no right to either be a science major or a pre - med. And Professor Tuts seems to take the stance that we are a bunch of retards, even though most people that I know in the class, know and understand physics (including myself) but can't do his exams. That's just plain unfair. This year, his exams were brutal in comparison to the past two years. Also, just one side note, when the TA's look at the exam and can't do the problems, something is wrong. Though I have to say, Tuts is very generous when it comes to grades and even if you score about 15 to 20 points below the mean, you still have a B-, which is nice and I do feel that I am prepared for the MCAT because I've suffered through his "Physics Olympics" exams and MCAT physics is not bad when compared to Tuts. Also, Tuts is willing to hold office hours and I hear he is very helpful, but Tuts is also aloof and a bit of an ass. He once looked through a student's test after the student handed it in, and laughed at it, which I thought was pretty cruel. If you're really good at physics or totally clueless like me, I think Tuts is a good match because his explanations and derivations are very clear but be prepared to be a little sore after the exams are over.