Physics II: Thermodynamics, Electricity and Magnetism

May 2020

If you like logic, proof-based physics, and reasoning, you will HATE Jeremy Dodd. His idea of a physics proof is writing out a formula on the board, just really really slowly. I consistently felt frustrated with how unmotivated the theorems and ideas in his class were. I am a very mathematically-minded person, and so derivations and proofs are very important for me Simply writing a formula on a board, and expecting it to stick does not work for me. Additionally, what he covered in class in no way resembled homework and exams. It was incredibly frustrating to have to self-teach myself all the material even if I attended the lectures. Overall, this course left me incredibly frustrated. I was the top in my high school physics classes (Mechanics, E&M, and Relativity!) but because of Dodd's class structure, grading scheme, and confusing lectures, I barely scraped a B in this class. Additionally, one of my friends literally quit physics because of Dodd. He loved physics and was planning to major in it and this class was literally so bad he quit the entire subject.

May 2015

Dodd's class is definitely a decent amount of work and fairly challenging material, but his class is more than fair and he is a great teacher and a great human. He is more than willing to help, and his lectures are engaging, well-organized, interesting, and Dodd's pretty funny, too. Plenty of demonstrations to keep things interesting, and he responds well to feedback from the class on what they'd like to see in the class or how they'd like things to change. Really, my classes with Jeremy Dodd (Physics 1601/1602) have been my best academic experiences so far at Columbia - I've learned a lot, and although it's a lot of work, it certainly felt worthwhile.

May 2014

First off, I'll give my background in physics because that seems to matter quite a lot when reviewing 1600. In high school, I took a basic algebra-based physics class freshman year where we essentially learned what acceleration was... then junior year I took AP Physics C Mechanics, got a 5, felt VERY comfortable with the material, and then senior year took AP E&M, had a teacher that didn't teach, got a 2, didn't learn much. Ok, so going into physics freshman year as someone who liked it a little, but really wasn't sure about majoring in it or anything like that, Dodd was a wonderful instructor who really changed how I looked at physics. He taught every class enthusiastically, faulty demonstrations and all, and really focused on kids learning an intuition for what was going on. Dodd helped me learn that Physics was more than just a science class that I was good at, but instead was really a fundamental method for looking at how the world works and why. The first semester felt a little easy for me due to learning Mechanics in high school, but I was somewhat dreading the second semester, because I thought I hated E&M and had no intuition for it. However, Dodd gave me a totally new perspective. He taught it so thoroughly and so well that it became something entirely different for me, and was one of my absolute favorite classes. Now, aside from me fanboy-ing Dodd, he really did have some amazingly helpful aspects of the course. 1. The textbook he chose is the best textbook for any subject that I've ever read. It was such a nice tool to have an easy-to-read, yet thorough exploration of the material to back up on if you missed a class or two. 2. Mastering Physics, which was our version of WebAssign, worked very well for me, making problem sets fun, challenging, and very educational. Also, the second semester, he added practice Psets that were perfect ways to study before the midterms, and before the final, he posted adaptive Psets, which were very helpful. 3. Dodd really took advantage of Courseworks. He posts all the information you could ever need about the course on the home page. He posts his lecture notes weekly. He posts before each midterm and final the formula sheet used on the exam, the material covered on the exam, the previous year's version of that exam, a solution guide to the previous year's exam, and seating assignments. And after each exam, he posts the score distribution, the exam itself, and the solutions. Really everything you could ask for. 4. All of his exams (ignoring the debacle of the first midterm of the Fall, on which most of the class got a 100%) are fair and well made. 5. He frequently sends out mini announcements via email, and he is very responsive to emails and after-class chats. 6. Finally, his office hours were a pleasure to go to. He is inviting, warm, and helpful, making office hours, in some ways, the best part of the class. To really understand how much Dodd cares for his students, I'll share an anecdote: On the last day of lecture, Dodd brought in a big bouquet of white roses and, saying that it felt like a quasi-graduation, he gave one to every student (at least those who showed up to lecture that day) because of how much he loved teaching us this year. Dodd is really a special teacher, and he made it clear to me that physics is going to be an important part of my education, convincing me to at least concentrate in it. I give him the highest recommendation to all.

May 2014

Since most of the other reviews are from people who aced AP Physics C and took this class, I’ll say right off that my perspective is different. I did not take AP Physics, or even E&M physics in high school really. Coming into this class all I knew was V=IR. I took Dodd because I figured I could drop down if I needed from 1601 into 1401 and I probably should have because everyone in 1601 knew more than me coming in, but I stubbornly stuck with it until Christmas and then, hearing that 1602 would be a more level playing field, I decided to stick with in for semester two. On paper, Dodd doesn’t seem like the best professor, and if I were to describe what about his teaching style worked I would not be able to. He gives weekly 10-problem PSets (on, and asks you to read the book. I read the book but not in sync with the course (all at the beginning and end of the semester). I went to most lectures and feel that I got a lot out of them, I think that this is why I did better than most people, many of whom did not show up for his 10am class. I also went to recitations and felt that they were very productive (again most people forego this. bad idea). My TA Zac was amazing. It’s not exactly an easy class, but I feel like it could have been more rigorous. However, I do feel like I understand electricity and magnetism after this class. I like physics because of his class. The reasons that I stuck with the class is that Dodd is truly the nicest professor I have had at Columbia. He is humble and cares about the well being of his students. He will remember your name if you introduce yourself to him. He will make time to meet with you outside of office hours if you want. Definitely go to his lunch with a professor if you can, he’s a charming man. Given the opportunity, I would take the class again.

May 2013

Columbia lacks a good physics class for students who don't want the rigor of 2800, yet have done physics at a level equal to or above AP Physics C (1600). 1602 is more or less a rehash of AP Physics C: E&M. I took 2801 first semester and dropped down to 1602 for the second semester because 2800 took too much of my time (I have come to regret this decision). For those who don't have much physics exposure, go for 1400. Dodd rushes through Thermodynamics and E&M at a furious pace, giving students no time to digest the material. If you took this class, and this was the first time you were learning the material, I pity you. It's impossible to actually learn anything from Dodd at the speed at which eh teaches. Dodd is a friendly, approachable teacher who does a lot of fun demonstrations. He assigns homework which is harder than material covered in class. Exams tend to be easier than the problem sets. This class is meant for students who have taken AP Physics C or the equivalent, and want a physics sequence they don't want to study for. I suggest taking 2800 if you want to actually learn real physics (be warned that 2800 is indeed a hard class) and 1400 if you don't know physics.

May 2011

Give this man a silver nugget at the very least! Dodd is an exceptionally gifted and caring teacher. He really cares more about how much you learn over dry scores as evidenced by his grading scheme: only your highest midterm counts. He's also very engaging during office hours and will take the time to walk you through any HW problem, concept or random physics tangent you may be interested in. Dodd is extremely clear during lectures and noticeably takes the effort to explain concepts as simply and comprehensively as possible. Compared to the other "big name" professors in the physics department, Dodd really reminded me of a high school type of teacher. He goes out of his way to get to know you during office hours if you attend, learns your name etc. I feel most people who reviewed Dodd in the past were in either the 1200 or 1400 sequence and had very little exposure to how horrendous math/science professors can be at research universities. I was in 2801 and honors math A first semester and the difference in teaching ability between those professors and Dodd is ridiculous. Homeworks are a perfect balance of rigor and accessibility. There's generally a problem or two that makes you think but overall the problem sets (of 10 problems or so) are very doable and if you pay attention in class shouldn't take longer than 3-5 hours. The midterms and final are distinctly easier than the homeworks, and as I said before the lower midterm is dropped. Dodd also has extensive office hours on top of multiple recitations before the HWs are due so there's really no reason you shouldn't have a near perfect homework average. On top of that, he curves to an A-. Frankly this class is set up so you can succeed. The best part is if you care enough to take notes during lecture, actually do the homeworks and attend office hours/recitations as needed, you will learn a lot of interesting physics. I highly recommend the 1600 sequence over the 2800 sequence for students who want a SOLID foundation in physics rather than acceleration for the sake of it.

Jun 2010

Parsons is a great physics professor! I feel lucky that I was able to take is class this semester. His tests are hard but fair, and not based on endless computations meant to test your calculator skills. They make you think. Just a side note though, some of the older reviews say that there's no calculators on the test. That's not true in Phsyics 2 - some test questions require calculators, but at least half the questions on every test don't. You can use a graphing calculator, so you may want to throw some formulas on there, since his formula sheet is very sparse. Parson's lectures are clear, he writes well on the blackboard and he's sometimes even funny. I enjoyed physics lecture, and I'm hardly a mathmo. I wish he'd been around first semester as well.

Sep 2009

Professor Zajc is a good professor, a great one compared to Physics instructors in general. He's better than usual at understanding a student's area of confusion, and is always patient and willing to explain things again and differently. His lectures are worthwhile: while they don't always demonstrate problem-solving techniques, they will explain the concepts you need to learn those techniques yourself. If you're not a Physics Person, you'll probably find this course a bit intense; if you are, then this is the course and professor for you.

Jun 2009

Fun story -- today is June 19th. School ended more than a month ago. My 1602 grade was posted this morning. Apparently one of the TAs just walked off with most of the even-numbered homework assignments; after more than a month of frantically trying to contact him (her?) Zajc finally gave up and calculated our grades based on the remaining assignments. Of course, the "drop two" rule remained in effect, meaning that one could conceivably have stopped doing homework halfway through the semester and still gotten a perfect homework score. After the first semester we got used to long delays in grading, but I believe this is a new record.

May 2008

Parsons honestly loves the textbook. His lectures come directly out of the book; therefore, if you read the chapters and do the sample problems within the chapter (and actually understand those sample problems) you have a good chance of doing well in this class. Still, I think attending his class is helpful. He speaks more clearly than any professor I know, and can occasionally be funny (in an awkward kind of way, I guess). The exams are pretty tough, but they are tough for everyone. There was 4 questions on each midterm, and 8-9 on the final (usually didn't have any numbers involved; only variables). The mean (about a B+) is pretty low, and the curve is pretty high. Generally, he picks questions that come directly out of his notes (sometimes without changing anything!). This is why attending class can save you a lot of time studying. Be warned, though, that attending class is by no means enough to get you at or above the mean. You really need to read the textbook (as painful as it can be because the material is INCREDIBLY condensed). Also, the TA was very helpful when it came to understanding the concepts, especially when the book was unclear. Take advantage of this situation, despite how boring and annoying it is coming in early for class etc. This will put you ahead of most students, guaranteed. Overall, Prof. Parsons knows his stuff. But that does not mean he is in the business of ensuring that you know yours. Know the textbook and look over the examples that he talks about in class and you should do fairly well, considering his huge curve.

Aug 2006

I think the most awful thing about his class is powerpoint presentation. Even though he might be good physicists, his teaching abilities are not that satisfactory. For those who will be majoring in Physics, it should be taken into serious consideration that the materials presented in the course are very important. Thus a good professor is required to make the materials clear and more interesting. Marka fails to draw the attention of his students in this reagrd. The class had no sense to me when it reached its third week. I cannot judge his intellectual abilities in physics, but i am sure that he does not communicate with his students well in the class. About the workload and finals, previous reviews are enough to give everybody a good impression.

Aug 2006

Professor Marka is a lively instructor who tries his best to engage the entire class. He always stopped to listen to, and answer all questions. He was also always available after class to talk further about the lectures. His grading is fair, and it's clear that he likes what he does.

Jul 2006

Marka is awful. He teaches using power points and pointing to derived equations rather than deriving them himself, which personally, leaves me with no understanding whatsoever. He introduces concepts in differential form when the class is all incoming freshman who mostly haven't taken any diff. eg. classes. He gives these ridiculously easy "quizzes" at the end of lecture that are elementary in concepts and then bombards students with the most difficult questions possible for problem sets. I think he means well, but he really was the worst physics professor I've ever come across in my life.

May 2006

Twenty less people come every time class is held! Marka seems like a good professor but secretly isn't. The lectures are pretty much useless, the homeworks are ridiculously bad (only advanced problems, and lots of them). Recitation sections weren't any good, either, and only 5 or 10 people would usually show up. Just survive it... after Parsons it's an extreme let-down. It doesn't grade that tough, I guess...

Jul 2005

Professor Westerhoff is a really really nice guy. He seems to take joy in helping a student out in office hours which is a fantastic thing. His lectures however tend to fall flat. His voice is almost perfect for making your mind wander and his explanations are less than lucid. His demonstrations are a 50/50 shot. Half of them either don't work, or don't serve to further understanding, while the other half stick in your head. Overall, I would say he's a mediocre professor as a lecturer, but fantastic one on one. If you have a class with Professor Westerhoff, make sure you see him a lot in office hours. Not a bad choice.

Jun 2005

The lectures were presented by introducing concepts, then following with rather in-depth examples. This works well; however, if you prefer to learn physics by derivations and definitions, this might not be the class for you. The book is ok. It is one of those physics books that has plenty of pictures and colors to calm down people who are nervous about math. The mechanics and thermodynamics sections are handled reasonably well, but the E&M isn't good at all. The problem is that they dummy down the math to the point that many of the intuitively obvious vector calculus ideas become difficult to understand, rather than explaining the mathematics first and then the physics. For example, they don't even use vector notions of curl and divergence when discussing fields, and all problems where area, volume, or surface integrals would generally be needed can be simplified to single integrals. I would recommend using a supplementary book while studying this section if you are seriously interested in physics. The homework consists of ten problems. Usually these took me about 2-4 hours. I would STRONGLY recommend doing them yourself if you want to learn the material. The TA for the first semester was decent, but the second semester TA basically gave away the answers at recitation. I know some might find that to be great, but honestly, having your head ache for 10-20 minutes before understanding a problem is better than having someone do it for you and losing the experience. Homework is 20% of your grade. The exams are doable. There are 2 midterms and 1 final per semester. Students are allowed handwritten notes on one side of paper for midterms, and two sides for finals. Midterms aren't easy, but perhaps it is a testament to the class that as I was reviewing my errors on them for the finals, I was banging my head against the wall at how foolish my mistakes now seemed. The finals are really a comprehensive test of the material, and are worth studying for. Your best midterm is 30% of your grade, and the final is 50%. The curve is reasonable: it is difficult to get an A unless you really know your stuff, but an A-/B+ is pretty much in the pocket if you stay up to date. Amber Miller is friendly and competent. I would recommend this class.

Jul 2004

Disregard the reviews from 2 years ago! She teaches alright. She tries hard to make the class interesting by throwing jokes around here and there. However, because the class covers a lot of material, she sometimes would just write down tons of equations and give little explanation. She's very approachable and willing to answer questions.

May 2004

Tries hard to make class interesting, but the course covers so much material at such a fast pace that she ends up just throwing up equations on the board which only make sense to you when she explains it. When you try to the do hw on your own you're pretty much completely lost since just knowing the equations doesn't help you at all. Nice, but not that great a teacher

Jan 2004

Contrary to other reviews, I really did not find Professor Miller to be as terrible as alleged. I am taking her this semester, and she teaches just like Professor Hailey from last term, with less experience, let's just say. The only difference, I would think, that lead to such contrasting reviews, is that Professor Hailey cut his students a LOT of slack, where i don't think Professor Miller has learned how. To those engineering students or people taking the class for the requirement, a word of advice: drop down to 1402, but for those who are seriously inclined to major in physics: stay in, you might learn something.

Aug 2003

Some people are meant to teach and others, like Professor Miller, are not. Although she was new to the instructing arena, thatÂ’s no excuse for her lack of command of the material and of the class in general. MillerÂ’s voice was often too soft to be heard and she usually spoke to the blackboard. Unless you sat in the first few rows (or even if you did) many were prone to sleeping, doodling, listening to their walkmans (yes I often witnessed this), or at least donning a glazed countenance. Miller commanded very little respect and she often had to stop to hush the class with feeble threats of pop quizzes. Professor MillerÂ’s lectures were long and dull, consisting mainly of derivations and very very rarely of an example problem. I realized only too late that she teaches straight out of the book. If you take the text to class you will be able to follow along section by section if not sentence by sentence. ItÂ’s sad. Basically, if you donÂ’t wish to spend countless hours teaching yourself out of the book and prefer a professor who holds interesting lectures and provides good notes, this class is not for you.

Jun 2003

I heard that Miller is very knowlegeable. Since it was her first time of teaching, Miller wasn't really able to make her class interesting or comprehending. She put or rather derived many confusing formulas on the board with very inefficient explainations. I don't really blame her for that, because she truly tried her best. Her class was a bit boring but manageable if you really sit down and study your text book. I really mean it. You have to pretty much study the whole course on your own. If you are the type of person who relies largely on the class lectures, don't take this class. Homework counts a lot in the final grade. The best way to study for her exam is to go over all the homework problems, which are hard and study the text book's examples problems. Good Luck for those who want to accept this challenge.

Jun 2003

If you're scheduled to take a class that Prof. Miller is teaching, don't let the other reviews get you too upset. First of all, 1602 covers so much material that any teacher's explanations would have been short and somewhat curtailed (this is less true for 1601 for example). She showed interest in communicating the material to students and, while it's true that she doesn't do so very well, this was her first class at columbia and she may be open to feedback and have learned some lessons from this class. And let's be honest about some of the other reviews. With their blatant tone of mocking condescension, they betray a prejudice that dogged Prof. Miller's relationship with class throughout the term: sexism. It was unfortunately too clear that a number of students took simple mistakes that any teacher makes on the board and turned it into an indictment of her intelligence. I even overheard some guys agree after a class that she "doesn't have a clue what she's doing." I'd like to see any of them get a tenure-track job as an experimental cosmologist at a ivy league school. So don't fall for that crap. Lessons for you the student: Don't come late to class. Don't yack with your friends in class. You would have learned these common standards of politeness eventually but Prof. Miller will ensure that you learn them now. Just grow up a little and go along. Also, 1601 & 1602 are not hard if you do the problems as much as possible on your own. Do not copy others' work and do not depend too much on the TA's doing the problems for you. Sometime I did the latter, and and it came back to haunt me. Just do the problems on your own and you'll be fine.

May 2003

Oh do I need repeat? Electricity and Magnestism is notoriously a tough subject... to add a terrible teacher who cannot teach, adds to the pain. I opnened the book one day in class and as I suspected, everything down to the expamples was pulled right from it, ommitting of course the sometimes helpful conceptual explanations. She stares into the board and derives formulas and when you ask "what does that mean?" she replies with another formula. I suppose its good we were allowed to have formula sheets then on the tests, otherwise there would be many left out on a limb. (My advice, make those formula sheets - people put expamples on there too which was a very helpful suggestion.) Unless you've taken AP E&M or have a good grasp of the material I'd say swallow your pride and take 1402. Youll be glad that you did. If you want to understand what you are studying, don't take this course. Its not about learning the concepts in this class, its about struggling to memorize which formula applies where. I'm sorry Prof. Miller, I didn't learn a thing from you.

May 2003

Amber Miller was obviously a new teacher this semester as she struggled through demonstrations and could barely contain herself when students had the audacity to show up late for class. I tried to give her a chance, but after awhile I gave up (like many of my peers) and didn't even go (which solved a couple of her late arrival problems). If you find yourself in a similar position just accept the fact that you have to teach yourself physics because when you do get to class on time you quickly realize that amber's not a very good teacher. She's great at following her notes though and who doesn't like that! The way to get around this class is to pull off one money midterm and go to the TA sessions. The TA does the homework for you and Prof. Miller drops one of your midterm grades. Don't worry that the final's worth 50% of your grade, you're not going to do well on it anyways.

May 2003

I don't think anyone in their right mind would have something positive to say about Ms. Miller. Her lecturing cannot keep anyone's attention, she just spits stuff off the top of her head and writes it on the board. It's amusing because she makes mistakes the entire time, despite having pages of notes in front of her. I was especially displeased as she would not explain her derivations of many problems and we were later expected to regurgitate them on the midterms. Speaking from experience, if you are not at least in Calc IIIs or IVa you are screwed. It didn't dawn upon me until I finished learning partial multiavariable differential equations at the end of the semester that I should have known them for this class. Same goes for double and line integrals. Along with her complete inability to lecture in a professional manner, she was never able to carry out basic experiments and frequently threatened to an at least 150+ lecture class that pop quizzes would be given due to 10 minute lateness of students. Please avoid her, I think that eventually she'll figure out how to teach this course, but not any time soon. No ability to teach and just plain mean....

May 2003

Amber Miller is terrible, as you've read from the other reviews. Amber Miller takes everything personally. In a 130 person lecture, she threatened giving us pop-quizes in the first 10 minutes of class because she thought it was rude that some students would come in late. I guess she doesn't understand the idea of a LECTURE course, as she would comment anytime she heard talking or someone would leave early. Amber, not everything is about you. Or maybe it is. Compared to 1601, there was more talking for two reasons: 1) Amber Miller does not have a commanding lecture style and 2) Amber Miller's lectures are horrible. In her defense, the class did seem to have a few people trying to prove her wrong whenever they could, but then again, if she presented the material more clearly, it wouldn't have been an issue. Amber Miller's lectures amounted to putting derivations of formulas on the board, often the same ones found in the text book. Her lectures were useless and the book isn't great either (Fishbane). The first midterm was ridiculously easy and the second ridiculously hard. She is so incompetent as a teacher that she said to the class after the second midterm, "The average was lower this time and I'm not sure why." This was her first semester teaching....

May 2003

Amber Miller is a horrible teacher. She throws equations up on the board with little to no explanation, and her demeanor discourages questions (she answers them, but if you want any sort of real explanation for the topics, go to the physics help room - if you ask her in class, she'll mostly just repeat herself). She works almost straight from the book, to the point where you can open the book and follow along as she goes through everything. Her lectures go at a pace such that if you're not a physics genius and aren't already familiar with the material, you have a hard time keeping up. Lectures often had 20% of enrolled students attending class. Surprisingly, however, she's very nice in person. If you go to her office hours and ask her questions about the material, she'll happily answer them and is very good at explaining specific things. Maybe she's just nervous in front of crowds, but that doesn't justify her behavior. She seems to have ego issues with her teaching; students often came in late to her class (we're talking large lecture class, 150 students), and this would annoy her and she'd threaten to start giving quizzes. If students walked out in the middle of class, she would make fun of them or grumble. Overall, avoid Miller if possible, but if you're stuck with her, definitely go to her office hours. She'll solve homework problems for you and explain stuff with a smile on her face you'd never think existed.

May 2003

[culpa censor]...She is by far the worst teacher I have had at Columbia. Her lectures are unintelligable even to those very good at science and math. Her inability to explain anything was bad enough, but the textbook was equally horrendous. To anyone who has to take physics, take the 1400 track instead and steer clear of this class.

May 2003

A very nice woman who at first appears to be a ditz but do not be fooled, she's a Princeton graduate who specializes in astrophysics. Unfortunately, she's a terrible teacher. Her lectures don't relate to her exams at all. Stay away.

May 2003

Amber Miller is the worst teacher I've ever encountered. She did not even once try to explain a concept, she only explained the derviation of equations of concepts. This is especially bad because people don't work with electricity in their daily lives and don't have a feel for it so concepts are foreign. Also, her tests are always off. The first midterm was ridiculously easy and the second ridiculously hard (3 of the 6 questions were worded in a way that made them impossible to solve). Also, she was flatout mean. She was not receptive to questions of any sort and couldn't handle it when there was even a little bit of noise. Having her was ultimately a bad experience.