Introduction to Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Dec 2020

She’s very nice but you need to teach yourself. The problem sets are much harder than what she covers in lectures. TA John is the best and makes the class much more manageable. There was no curve this year.

Dec 2020

Taking Zelevinsky's class over zoom was not an experience I'd wish upon anybody. Her lectures were hard to understand because she spent more time trying to prove the concepts than explaining how to apply them to problems. To be fair she worked on example problems, but her explanations left me just as confused because she didn't clearly explain the steps required to solve problems. Oftentimes she would go between two steps in a problem with the only explanation that it was "intuitive" to do so, while not at all being intuitive for someone who doesn't fully understand the concepts. I'm not someone who's interested in or good at physics so it's entirely possible that her explanations worked for some people in the class, but a lot of the class shared the sentiment of coming away from her lectures incredibly confused. Our only homework was a weekly problem set which generally was doable. I'd like to take a minute to shout out to the TA John Staunton who completely carried the class by giving us explanations on how to work problems and held homework-solving sessions. He did everything that Zelevinsky should have done in giving us clear steps to solve problems and explained concepts clearly. Having a good TA, evidently, is an important part of taking a class with Zelevinsky. There's a midterm and a final. The midterm had questions much easier than the psets while the final turned out to be a fair bit harder than the midterm. She gave us a practice test for each which lined up closely with the real thing in terms of difficulty. To put this in the review in perspective, I ended up getting an A, but that was despite Zelevinsky's teaching rather than because of it. Having a good TA was most of the reason I survived, and her grading ended up being fair as long as you did well on the homework. If you already have an understanding of these concepts from an AP class or something I suppose I could see a reason to take her class; the grading was generally fair. If you're coming in dry, however, stay far away unless you want to do most of the work on your own.

Jan 2020

Prof. Pasupathy’s dry sense of humor makes lectures somewhat entertaining, but he spends a little too much time getting laughs out of the class through his frequent demos. As a professor, he has a strange and extreme commitment to solving problems symbolically; while I understand that solving algebraically reduces the likelihood for calculation errors, he was adamant about solving a harder 1D motion problem using a messy system of 4 equations in office hours once when it could’ve been solved with just 2 of the fundamental formulas from the textbook. The first 2/3 of the semester is tough but still doable, but there is a ridiculous difficulty spike when you reach rotations and fluids near the end of the semester because 1) these topics are naturally harder to grasp than kinematics, forces, and energy and 2) Pasupathy spends even less time on these concepts. Bottom line: if you don’t have a solid physics background from high school, find an easier professor if there is one. The course is supposedly curved to somewhere between a B and B+, but the class seemed to have more students with a stronger background than usual this semester.

Dec 2019

Pasupathy's class if entertaining as he does a lot of demos and always tries to keep class engaged. However, he is not a very good teacher. He spends most of the class time deriving formulas and does very little examples and practice problems. When he does do practice problems, he goes through them very quickly and always solves problems in terms of multiple equations where you have to solve for the unknown. He pretty much teaches straight from the book so it is very helpful to actually read the textbook and the sample problems. Pasupathy expects students to have a fairly strong foundation in physics so this class will prove to be especially challenging for students who have very little physics background. His exams are difficult (usual average around 60%) but the class is curved. His problem sets are also difficult and can be time consuming, but are all from the textbook. His exams are similar in difficulty to the homework. You often have to learn topics on your own as they are not thoroughly explained in class. For exams he will provide some practice problems if you ask for them, however these will not be enough to study for exams.

Apr 2018

Gabe taught our class as a sort of permanent sub, as the teacher originally intended to teach our class was out for the semester. Gabe had this weird video game system for the class, consisting of 'Modules' 1-10 and 'Bosses' A-C. You could retake any of these assessments as many times as you needed until you passed, however you had to get it 100% right to pass. Each module was 1000 points, and each boss was 2000 points. A "B" was 8000 points, going up or down 1000 points for each 1/3 letter grade (B+ 9000, A- 10000, etc). He encouraged everyone to work together because each person was individually collecting points so there was no curve. Anyone who wanted to do well in this class had the opportunity to. I am terrible at physics, but I still achieved an A- in this class. Gabe offers copious amounts of 'quizzing slots' virtually any day of the week, and you could keep hitting your head against the wall until you passed it. On top of that, Gabe hosted lots of office hours (I really mean a lot, I don't know if he sleeps) in addition to the recitation and TA office hours. He would also stay multiple hours over his time slots to help students with specific problems. The class had 200+ students, and he knew the name of everyone who showed up. Even now that I am in the second semester of physics and he is not teaching a section, Gabe still holds review sessions for his former students to help them understand concepts. Tl;dr Very dedicated to helping his students Weird quizzing system, no exams

May 2014

Professor Tuts accomplishes all that is required of a physics professor in terms of teaching: to teach an introductory physics course by writing things on a chalkboard. However he fails in many other aspects: to teach material that will enable students to complete homework assignments and test questions. The material learned in class has absolutely no correlation with homework problems or test questions. Every single one of Tuts' tests will leave you feeling horrible about yourself and like you don't know physics. You will then receive an A- on this test. Tuts does give practice tests but these practice tests are for his 1200 physics class even though I was taking the 1400 physics class. The lack of difficulty and concept in the 1200 physics class test questions make these practice tests unrepresentative of the 1400 physics tests that we would be taking. Since the practice tests are unrepresentational of the midterms that you will soon be taking, you would then expect that the homework problems would be of comparable difficulty and material examined. Wrong: the homework is completely unrelated and is extremely difficult compared to the test. I would recommend just learning how to do the practice tests, going to his review sessions and trying your hardest to do the homeworks without the solution manual, as the solution manual became a crutch for me towards the end of the semester. The curve for the tests is generous but it doesn't change the fact that the average grade curved to a B+ is often equivalent to a 50 on the test. The demos are interesting.

Jan 2014

For a shorter summary, look at the last paragraph: Things in your favor: Prof. Pasupathy is, on the whole, an entertaining lecturer. He can be witty, has good energy, and it is very evident that he is invested in teaching. His accent is only slight, and understanding him isn’t a problem. He also does his best to incorporate demos and get volunteers in the class involved; it’s an attempt to make sure you’re not sleeping, and is usually successful. His problem sets are generally fairly straightforward. Only in the first third of the class were the problems he wrote as part of the problem set a major factor; later on it was mostly problems from the book. With the solutions manual (decently easy to find), his problem sets aren’t a problem. What’s nice is that irrespective of all of this, he hosts a recitation every week where he essentially just answers homework questions and does homework questions for an hour. If you’re having trouble just getting the answer/through the process, go to recitation and he’ll do it for you. Things not in your favor: His lecture style isn’t the most informative. Like the reviewer before me, he does tend to solve a lot of problems in class. His philosophical standpoint in solving a system of equations is to only plug in at the very end; while good when solving problems, it doesn’t seem to be the ideal way to teach concepts. He does less of that, and if you haven’t been introduced to these ideas before, you’re going to have a hard time picking them up for the first time from him. This is especially true with rotational/equilibrium and fluids, near the end of the semester. He didn’t spend at all the time in lecture he needed to in order to teach those concepts thoroughly, and most of the class (myself included) struggled a bit. His tests are very straightforward, but they are only straightforward if you have honestly done all of the problem sets and understand the concepts. What he tends to do is pick “classic” problems for many of the concepts, which tend to test something thoroughly, so you can’t just “sort of” know something. But, he doesn’t have problems that do anything out of the box or that you haven’t ever touched. Summary: I feel as if you’re going to do best in his class if you’ve already had a decent physics background or are familiar with many of the concepts in mechanics; this isn’t to say that you’re going to do poorly otherwise, but the learning curve is much steeper and less forgiving than perhaps it may be in other classes due to his lecture style.

Dec 2013

Abhay is a solid teacher, and I would definitely recommend him over Professor Tuts. However, his teaching style is different from what most people are used to. He doesn’t spend as much time on conceptual nuance as I would like, and then spends a lot of time on problems. Instead of solving for the value of intermediate answers, he solves everything like a system of equations (which get uglier and uglier as the year progresses) and plugs in at the very end. Hence, most of the class consists of doing problems where one gets bogged down in a lot of ugly algebra, and thus, many students miss the conceptual nuance and understanding of the problem. If you take a step back and realize that all Abhay is doing is solving a system of equations in a different form, it becomes much easier, but it takes most students a large portion of the semester to get used to this. That being said, I still found Abhay a good teacher. He has a quirky personality, and he is quite energetic throughout the class. He has demos decently often and encourage student participation frequently. ATTEND LECTURE. He goes way more in depth than the textbook, and you will definitely be in the dark if you skip class. His problem sets aren’t too bad, unless he decides to write his own problem. When he writes his own problems, be prepared to spend a large amount of time on them. I think solving his problems was definitely helpful, but you’re not going to see the answer right away. You will have to try various approaches until you have an “AHA!” moment, and then everything will work out. Attempting his problems with a group was helpful since we could all suggest ways to attack the problem. His midterms weren’t too bad in my opinion. They were hard but doable. I think he made them easier from previous years. His final exam was very difficult, with the average being 59%. The key here is to make sure you understand the problems in the final problem sets. Abhay moves quickly through fluids and rotational motion, and if you just turn in problem sets by using the solution manual and don’t go back to understand what happened, you will be confused for the final. Most students found the portion of the final from the first 2/3 of the semester doable, but clearly didn’t study Torque and Fluids enough. Luckily, most of the class made this mistake so the average reflected that. Overall I would say this was a good, but hard class. If you had a good Physics teacher in high school you will be at a good starting point. His curve is a B+/A- curve so half the class gets some form of an A.

Jan 2013

Emlyn's a nice guy but it drove me crazy how hurried he always seemed. He always began the class with "I think I'll be able to get you guys out really early this time!" If I'm paying for the entire hour and fifteen minutes, I'd rather he take his time through concepts or do more examples. One of the most valuable things I did to study for the final was go through all the practice midterms and actual midterms until I felt confident with every single question. Sometimes very similar if not the same questions show up on the final...

Jan 2012

I joined his class after my first midterm, and I basically had no idea what was going on during the entire semester. Pasupathy would give us extremely hard questions in class that he did not explain at all. His homework problems were also annoying, and so it's extremely helpful if you have the solutions manual. He is also extremely rude when it comes to emails. I emailed him several times asking him for help, and he would respond with one word replies. I would not recommend Pasupathy, but I got an A even though I had no idea what was going on.

Jan 2012

I absolutely loved this class. Abhay is funny, and his lectures are clear and to the point. He obviously knows what he is doing, and each lecture covers the main points of the chapter being covered, and also provides an example that offers insight on the steps you should take to answer the problem sets.There were a lot of in class demonstrations, which, along with being extremely entertaining, also helped explain concepts. He does have a bit of an accent, but I wouldn't worry about it. He speaks very clearly, and even if you miss a word here or there, he writes all important points on the board. (Don't worry, his penmanship is legible). Overall I'd say this is a great class to take, especially for people like me, that have never taken a physics class before.

Jan 2012

Out of all the physics professor's I have had so far in college and high school, Professor Pasupathy is by far the most knowledgeable about physics. Originally, I was in Charles Hailey's 1401 lecture and decided to switch. It was a smart decision. His lectures are clear, concise, and to the point, and he perfectly plans each lecture to highlight the key concepts. Although he is a foreign professor, do not let this deter you. He is easy to understand and at times can be quite charming and funny. He loves showing demonstrations (some are of value and others are just funny to watch (shooting a monkey with a cannon was a highlight!!!!!)). His grade breakdown is pretty standard for sciences (20% HW, 20% midterm 1, 20% midterm 2, 40% Final). Depending the chapter, his problem sets are either very difficult or relatively easy; however, overall, the workload is pretty standard for physics. I'd recommend this class over Hailey's because the HW counts for 20% instead of 10%; however, be warned, his exams will murder you in cold blood. After the first midterm, one girl walked out of the lecture hall and exclaimed "that killed me!" After the final, most students looked like they had been hit by trucks. Luckily, the average on each of the midterms was approximately 50% and each one is heavily curved. I believe his curve is a B, B+ curve, but I am not totally positive. If you have taken AP Physics B and some of AP Physics C, you should definitely be fine! If you haven't, good luck!

Jan 2012

Good person, very likeable. Very passionate and caring about his students and their learning. That being said, not a great lecturer in my opinion. It's clear that he wants us to know the material but his lectures are all over the place. I went to every lecture, but never reviewed me notes once because it would be pointless. Some of his examples would be specifically related to astrophysics (since he's an astrophysicist) that would be completely unnecessary for the actual class. It was hard to follow his examples all the way through. He doesn't post lecture notes online. The course itself moves at a quick pace. That being said, I didn't find the class difficult enough to go to any office hours. (Also, I took AP Physics Mech in HS, so I had background knowledge.) Overall, he's not the best but definitely not the worst; like I said, he's very likeable, and I personally found him to be an adorable professor. Also, the class is curved to a B+ so a fair amount of students, I think, get that. He hates giving low grades. (I got a B+, even though I thought I was gonna get an A-)

Dec 2011

Abhay is not too bad. As a lecturer he is pretty mediocre. If you are pretty good at physics, you can skip the lectures. His demonstrations are pretty good, sometimes they're even funny. Especially the one where he shot the monkey... The real problem are his tests. They are brutal. The average on all of his tests has been around 50%. The review problems for the tests won't actually help, take good notes of his lectures and study from that. Also, the TA sessions are pretty much useless. His tests are brutal, so eventually you will stop studying and give up. Pretty much. Getting a B+ isn't that hard though because of the generous curve.

Dec 2011

Abhay is a great teacher. He's always really excited in class, does tons of demos, and not only has plenty of office hours, but it always willing to meet at other times and responds to emails quickly. He also answers any questions you have during or after class. That being said, the class is hard. The semester starts out slow (the beginning is a lot of stuff most people had covered in high school), but don't be fooled--the material gets difficult, especially around second midterm time. The two midterms were both incredibly difficult (some might call them traumatic experiences), with means around 55%, but Abhay is a fair grader, and curves to a B/B+. I learned a lot in this class, and was glad to be taught by someone who does cool work in physics (he works in condensed matter, and would sometimes go on interested tangents about his work), and who clearly thinks that physics--including what he was teaching--is awesome.

Dec 2011

Charles Hailey will derive, integrate, and re-derive equations until half of the class has been induced into a sleep coma. Don't be fooled by his degree in Astro-Physics, Hailey actually has a PHD in Inception. In his class, your dreams will have dreams! The homeworks are manageable; just don't leave them for the night before as I did once, which proved to be one time to many. Start the assignment early, finish a few problems a night, and you'll be golden. That way, if you get stuck on any particular problem, you can chat with Hailey or classmates to solve it. If you want to do well on his midterms and the finals, study the problems in the practice midterms that he posts on CourseWorks. Some of these problems will be exactly replicated on the midterms, and others will be very similar. Don't spend too much time studying problems from the book because Hailey has his own way of approaching problems, and if you want to do well in his class, you must adapt this way yourself.

Dec 2011

When it comes to physics, Abhay definitely knows his stuff. It might seem at first like he's not that great a teacher, but the truth is that there's so much material to be covered in this one semester, it's impossible for anyone to be a good teacher without spending way too much time on a certain subject. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to a lot of reading and practice problems on my own time in order to keep up with what was going on in class. The class seemed fairly easy until the last 1/3 of the semester, which was crammed with fluids and thermodynamics, topics that were taught extremely quickly but were also extremely difficult. For homework assignments, Abhay assigns mostly problems from the book, but every now and then he'll throw in a few of his own problems which will overwhelm anyone but the exceptional physics student. We had 10 problem sets, each of which were around 28 points each. He's very responsive with e-mails and if you ask him about any homework questions personally he's really good about helping you answer them without directly giving you the answer. The exams in this class are absolutely brutal (averages hover around 50%). Despite the curve, which leaves the average at around a B or B+, walking out of one of his tests will make you feel as though you have learned close to nothing. Overall, this class was definitely a lot of work, which, luckily, I was just barely able to handle. If you're good at physics and think you're up for a bit of a challenge, take this class. (From what I hear from people who took 1600, I'd advise against it.) If you're just looking for a way to get the physics requirement out of the way, go for an easier professor if there is one.

Dec 2011

Don't believe the bad reviews!! Hailey is the sweetest guy ever, and go to his recitations, he can be really helpful and he's a cool guy to talk to. Granted, his lectures can go over your head, but that's why we have textbooks, which you should really read. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and laugh at his jokes. My favorite quote that no one caught was, "let's say we have a glass of soda, which is water and some poison of course." Hailey is funny and adorable, but the best thing to do to get through the class is do the practice midterms, and then do them again, and again.

Dec 2011

Professor Hailey is hands down the worst professor I've had at Columbia. He's quite clearly a brilliant guy and a great asset to the physics department for his research, but he has no business teaching a 1400-level physics class, let alone 2 of them. His understanding of the material is phenomenal and he's way above and beyond the basic principles covered in 1401, but his presentation is awful and the care with which he handles the class from a logistical point of view is horrible. Sure, the curve is nice and if you study you'll do just fine getting a B+ or higher in the class, but you won't learn physics. He rushes through concepts, goes off on tangents about irrelevant material, is unclear about what and what isn't accountable for the tests and his solution guides and practice problems for assignments and exams are riddled with errors, simply written quickly on a piece of paper, scanned, and uploaded to courseworks. He's an interesting guy and obviously a brilliant physicist, but his teaching skills are subpar and I thoroughly hated taking his class.

Dec 2011

Professor Hailey is really good. I don't know why there are a lot of negative comments below. He's a top notch lecturer who is obviously really enthusiastic about what he teaches and what he does. The lectures are on the quick side, you keep moving throughout the whole class, but he explains things well, so, as long as you're paying attention you'll get everything. It also helps in spades if you read the textbook before going to his class, then the lectures will be crystal clear. Hailey also stops to answer questions during the class (even tangential ones), which a lot of teachers don't in a class of 150. He also is more than willing to schedule appointments outside of class if you're not getting the material and I'm pretty sure he's nocturnal because I've e-mailed him at 2am sometimes and he'll respond. The homework sets aren't too difficult and there's no negative side to collaboration. The midterms are challenging, but fair and there is a very, very generous curve. Hailey said the final would look similar to the midterms and practice midterms and it actually ended up looking exactly like them, so, it wasn't difficult. I would definitely take this class if this is your introduction to physics or even if like me you were a bit rusty from high school physics.

Sep 2011

Just to be honest here, I loved Hailey in 1401. Even though he threw a fit when we all did well on the first midterm (people, it was really easy). But in E&M, I felt I was completely lost; it just wasn't worth it going to class. If I had something better to do, I didn't regret skipping class. Like the review before said, reading the book and taking your own notes was much more beneficial. I also stopped handing in homeworks for E&M because the deadline simply did not work for me, plus I couldn't depend on his notes to figure them out. Also, the homework problems were not really like anything he would test us on. It didn't hurt my grade that much. The experiments he did in E&M were so pointless, and confused me even further. Perfect curve for E&M, I got B+ and B for the midterms. I think that was perfect considering that I didn't know what the hell was happening. I studied for physics only before every exam. Also, while I was studying for the MCATs, I realized in 1401 Prof. Hailey never taught us anything related to sounds and waves. Well, they're not as easy as I thought they would be. I took this class because Hailey supposedly was awesome when he was a visiting professor at Barnard in Spring 2010.

May 2011

If you plan on taking Professor Hailey's Physics courses, you might as well label yourself a complete masochist. Out of all of the teachers that I had freshman year, none have given me as much of a headache like Hailey has. Like many others in my class, I fell prey to the silver nugget that sat beside his name on CULPA. On the first day of 1401, we steamrolled through 3 chapters and, for the most part, maintained a pace of 1.5-2 chapters per lecture for the rest of the semester. In lecture, Hailey demonstrates that not only does he have no clue about the prerequisites for his course (assuming that Calculus II students know about line integrals and partial differentiation - something covered in CalcIII and IV), but he is easily annoyed if you magically don't know these things. When he brought up using partial differentiation to approach a problem, someone asked what exactly is a partial derivative. Hailey's response was a rather bitchy one, as he expressed surprise that a room full of CalcII students didn't know how to do multivariable calculus. What's worse than the lectures are his exams. Every midterm that we had this year dissatisfied him. In 1401, our first midterm had a mode of 200, which pissed him off. This induced a rage within him and caused him to make the second midterm hellishly long and difficult, causing the average to be much much lower than the first. The scores were so bad, that 15/200 was a C. (You literally had to just walk in the room, write down some formulas and leave). During E&M, our first midterm had an average around 130/200, still making him sad that it wasn't near 140. And finally, our second midterm average was around 110/200, and this (unsurprisingly) pissed him off. So there's no satisfying Hailey. If he were actually wondering why we did so poorly, it was probably because his teaching skills are subpar. It is almost impossible to create a comprehensible set of notes. I was better off not going to lecture and reading the book (seeing as I got a B+ and B on the midterms). Finally, as a smaller note, expect lots of spam from Hailey as he tends to email the class a lot. If you are feeling brave, adventurous and extremely masochistic, then by all means, take Professor Hailey's class. However, if you have the opportunity to take it with anyone else, do so. Hell, you'd be better off taking 1600 rather than Hailey. At least the difficulty level there is probably more appropriate than with him.

Mar 2011

He was a very clear, straight forward teacher. His classes were good--not terribly interesting, but not dreadfully boring. He taught almost straight from the book, so the examples in class were pretty easy compared to those he assigned for homework, which I found quite challenging when I tried to do them just based on my notes. I really had to rely heavily on reading the material and teaching it to myself. There were a good amount of demonstrations in class which livened things up a bit. He's a very nice guy and very approachable.

Dec 2010

It is questionable how Hailey got good reviews in the past, considering most of the students this year consider him to be their worst professor. Hailey is an overall good man, although his sarcasm and arrogance get the better of him in lecture. Lectures are generally unclear, making even the most detailed note-taker question exactly what they are writing. I would look at my notes and not understand absolutely anything, which just went to show how completely worthless going to lecture is. The practice exams and the formula sheets on exams are entirely hand-written in Hailey's barely legible and typically frenzied handwriting. Practically everything in the course was taught haphazardly, particularly thermodynamics and simple harmonic motion. The second midterm was intentionally made to be very difficult, and while he claimed it was "just long, not difficult," the solution set he sent out had three out of seven answers incorrect. Also, grades are not posted to Courseworks, so it's up to you to guess what grade you have. After sitting through a lecture taught by Dodd as a substitute, it was clear how a good physics professor teaches. Hailey makes the most simple, straightforward parts of physics seem abstract with hard to understand derivations and practically incomprehensible lectures. Only take him if you have an extremely good understanding of physics already.

Aug 2010

This was the single most enjoyable class I took all of freshman year at Columbia. The lectures that I went to were interesting, though the 1:00pm class is way too early, and too hard to wake up for. Even if you do wake up on time, lunch is probably more important than class. Even though this class is important to have, so students can get a good foundation for more advanced classes, actually attending Professor Hughes' lectures are completely optional, since he posts up lecture notes every week, and all the information is in the textbook (Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday Resnick and Walker). A quick skimming of the chapter review in the textbook before the midterm is all that is needed to do well in the class, since a very extensive formula sheet is provided.

Dec 2009

I think some of the earlier reviews may be outdated: Emlyn Hughes is an outstanding professor, and he teaches Intro to Mechanics and Thermodynamics superbly well. He speaks quickly and clearly, demonstrates some sort of concept with some physics-related apparatus every class, and ensures that you are entertained. His lectures are extremely straightforward, and if should you decide to skip them, you can access his lecture notes online, which are equally straightforward. He assigns homework, but does not collect them. He posts handwritten solutions to homework assignments online. Grades are based purely on exams. Exams are returned in timely fashion, and if there's a legitimate mistake in grading, you can file regrade requests.

Dec 2009

I really have no complaints about him. His explanations are clear, concise, and precise. He is interesting enough as a lecturer, and his demonstrations are usually pretty enjoyable too. That said, going to class is probably optional since the textbook does a good job of explaining the same concepts too. If you have a grading problem on your midterm, it's a pain because you have to submit a form and then wait who knows how long before they tell you if your mark went up (or down). Annoying process, so I usually try to send him a quick email asking if I should bother getting it regraded.

Apr 2009

Pretty much everything the last reviewer said is still true. She is nice, but she has said more than once she doesn't want to be there, she doesn't finish problems and spends forever deriving equations without showing you how to use them. To her credit, we do get out homework back in a timely manner (probably thanks to the TA), she puts up her lectures notes on courseworks (even though they aren't that helpful) and she does do little experiments in class sometimes that range anywhere from mildly entertaining to be scared for her safety. Also if you show improvement on the second midterm she will not count the first. If you are commuting any sort of distance to class, you are going to have a hard time making yourself show up, I promise.

Feb 2009

Professor Dodd is one of the best lecturers at Columbia. He has a good sense of humor which he mixes in with the dry material in order to make lecture enjoyable. However, he has a tendency to make the material seem MUCH easier than it actually is. He often (if not always) overgeneralizes ideas and he does very simple examples in class. When one looks at the homework, however, it is a totally different story. I often found myself clueless over most of the problems in the book even after attending lecture. In order to even come close to doing the problems, I had to read the chapter and follow along with the example problems in the book. I also had to often turn to online help. I think Prof. Dodd does a very good job of presenting the material in the time allotted, and in order to do well in the class, one has to put in a lot of work outside of class.

Dec 2008

Professor Tuts is, first off, not a good lecturer. I fell asleep at least once per class, with few exceptions. His lectures mostly consisted of putting up a few concepts and equations, going through three or four long examples, and then rushing a lot of good material in the last five minutes. Sometimes he would stuff a random demonstration at the end as well. He wasn't very good at getting concepts across. His material was minimally helpful in homework and tests, at best. If you have him, read every chapter he goes over thoroughly, and keep a list of often-used formulas. The homework varied in difficulty; he only assigns problems with diagrams that are given. The only way I got through it was with two roommates also in the class, one of which had a full solutions manual. You could seek for help, the textbook used is there. The homework was very similar to the tests. When reviewing, I actually found that the test questions had come straight from the textbook problems (not so on the final). He has a review session before each exam and the final, which consists of him going over practice exams. He posts two practice exams before each exam, which were sort of helpful. The tests were three questions long, and the final was six questions, with each question having three or four parts to it. He puts up solutions to everything on Courseworks; homework, practice exams, and actual exams. His lectures are also up, but they're his messy handwritten notes. He created an optional recitation, but I hadn't heard of many people going to it (by the end of the semester, it was abandoned). He was very good about keeping his office hours, but again, I didn't hear of too many people using them.

Dec 2008

AWESOME professor. clear and organized lectures, writes everything down on the board so you have great notes to refer back to at the end of every class. very fair exams (as long as you can do the homework and read the chapter you are almost guaranteed a good grade) and the mean for the class is a B+. weekly problem sets due every thursday and recitation sections that go through any homework problems you're having trouble with. i really learned a lot in this class and recommend this professor for someone who is in SEAS and not that good at physics.

Apr 2008

The first semester is mechanics; the second E&M. Professor Parsons is very nice and is fairly approachable (although honestly you will probably never need to talk to him personally). His lectures are straightforward and follow the textbook closely enough that it is easy to miss class if necessary. Unfortunately his voice has a monotone, droning quality that can put people to sleep. There were two midterms each semester which had problems similar to the homework but using only variables instead of numbers, so no calculators were allowed (this is a good thing because using a calculator wastes a lot of time). The averages on midterms were very low because the class was filled with SEAS freshmen who are weak at physics (I believe this is the lowest level of physics SEAS students can take). This is also good, because if you take this class with a strong physics background it is very easy to do well. My only complaint is that the problem sets were too long.

Feb 2008

Professor Parsons knows what he is doing and does a good job explaining the materials and concepts to the class, although he can get boring at times and his lectures are pretty much right out of the book. He is funny at times but his monotone voice will drown some into sleep. His midterms are of moderate difficulty and he curves generously. Definitely take this class if you've had no previous experience with Calculus-based physics or AP Physics.

Jan 2008

Lectures are boring, demonstrations are not very helpful. It was a big lecture class because everyone looked at culpa and took this course. The class is filled with people who have never seen any calculus before and a larger amount of people who have gotten 5s on AP physics and chose to take a class to pad their GPA at the expense of all those in the middle. Homeworks are problem based, plug in solutions, while tests are method based with all variables, not very well correlated at all. Take 1600 physics its open book and calculator active unlike this class.

Dec 2007

I seem to be the only one on CULPA with this opinion, but I really did not like Parsons' class. He knows what he's doing, but sometimes I felt like I would leave class and still not understand how to do the homework problems. When he explains a concept, though, he will go ahead and do at least two examples of it, so as to show you how it works in multiple contexts. He tries to be funny, but I rarely found any of his jokes to be amusing. He does demonstrations in class which are useful only in that they show you that the concept proves true in theory. His exams are difficult in my opinion. If you do well, though, it really shows that you know the material, because the tests are done all in variables and constants given by letters instead of being numerical problems. I thought the problem sets were sometimes difficult, too, but that generally coincided with when I did not go to class--you definitely should go to lecture to do well in this class.

Nov 2007

Mawhinney is friendly and will answer your questions, but usually spends most of the lesson explaining how to derive the Physics formulas, than how to use them. The pace of the class is fast, but maybe because I had no prior knowledge in Physics from High School. The midterms are hard, but he curves generously.

Mar 2007

Coming from a mediocre teacher in HS and a 5 on the Physics C exam, Westerhoff seemed like an improvement. That said, I stopped going to class as I was incrediblely bored in class. The lectures arent bad if you arent very familiar with the material. If you know it, dont waste your time. The tests were okay. I had 78's when the average was 60-65. To get an A, you had to have above 83% for the course. My 78 got me an A-. Having an answer key made the hw infinately easier.

Jan 2007

Elena Aprile is first and foremost a researcher. She comes in 5-10 minutes late every class, and it is blatantly obvious that she does not want to be there. She doesn't even do most examples completely, because she just starts you off and then tells you what you WOULD do and doesn't even give you the answers. I think she was doing the examples directly from the book and that's why she never told you answers, but still, she shouldn't expect us to just go to the book and search for those exact problems. Once, she even said in one example "So this is the penguin, no friction, blah blah blah, you plug in his mass and blah blah you get his acceleration." Didn't even solve the problem or set it up. And every now and then she says something like "I don't know why we do this, this is such bullshit" but when you get her started on her research of blackbody radiation, she gets SO happy and goes on for years. Probably a great researcher, but definitely not worthy of being a teacher.

Jan 2007

This class is NOT EASY. I definately worked my butt off this semester... most likely because I didn't consistently go to class. Go to all the classes, and review a little bit before each class, and you'll have a much easier time of it than I did. And for all that stress and difficulty I still got a decent grade, so that says something about the great curve. Westerhoff is REALLY REALLY tall. He does interesting demonstrations and cracks amusing jokes. I found him quite dull but that might've been because staying up really late + pages of physics notes = not good. He lets us take a note sheet into every midterm and the exam. This is a good class. Just be prepared to be an organized and diligent student.

Nov 2006

I don't care what all the other reviews say- this class is HARD! If you are not engineering do not take this course-there is no reason to. Sure, at the end of the day you can walk out with a decent grade given the curve but surviving the rigorous weekly problem sets and walking out of each test certain that you bombed is not good for your confidence. PROS: Westerhoff may be the talest prof you will have at Columbia, cool accent (kept me awake for the first month), a predictable 36 blackboards of notes every class, tests are easier than the homeworks, cheat sheet, the curve. CONS: Prepare to be rocked- and not in a good way. Hard problem sets (the physics help room cannot do them either so save your time), hard tests (this was so far the only class in Columbia where I could not do what was in front of me), stress and frustration.

Jan 2006

Westerhoff is certainly a nice guy - like most reviewers here say - but his lecturing skills are below average, in my opinion. He comes very well prepared to lectures yet his explanations are quite unsatisfactory at times and pace a bit quick. He tries to explain things - and sometimes does a decent job - but the overall quality of conveying the material is not that great. Homework, in that respect, is very helpful. I mainly learned from that. Overall though, he is not a bad teacher - there are certainly much worse ones. Take his class if you are willing to work a bit harder and put more effort into the (sometimes challenging) homework problem sets.

Nov 2005

Ah, grow up. If you can't understand Kim, then don't go into physics or engineering, because his accent is fine and many others are much worse. Also, if you find the lectures boring, then just don't go, because his questions are completely straight forward and you can learn all of the material from the text book. That being said, I found Kim to be an above average lecturer and a generally excited, friendly, and all-around nice guy. I showed up two hours late to the final exam and he gave me the full time, when he was entirely within his rights to say forget it. The curve is also ridiculously high (half the class gets an A- or better), so any small injustices get ironed out in the end moreso than most of us probably deserve.

Feb 2005

Not a good teacher, although is a very nice guy. Very hard tests. No real need to go to the class, but must study hard for test.

Jan 2005

The prof is a really good teacher (probably the best I've had all semester). He clearly explains things in class and has cute demonstrations, analogies and examples. The only problem is that the homework assignments tend to be rather challenging. Each homework set usually has one (or two problems) that are really hard and few seem to figure out. Additionally the questions that appear on the exams are rather challenging. Overall, I would really recommend taking the class because the prof is a really good teacher...just be prepared to struggle through some rough problems on exams and hw assignments.

Jan 2005

He's a genuinely nice guy. I rarely went to class, but still managed to do just fine in the class. If you have any sort of special problem that occurs during the course, Westerhoff will be more than happy to help you out. He's definitely worth taking if you have to take physics.

Jan 2005

Wasn't supposed to teach the class, but ended up doing so because Aprile couldn't. A really good teacher...organized lectures, and that cool kind of nerdy physics lover. Cracked jokes during experiments. Slight German accent, but completely understandable. Tests were fair, but not easy. Final was exceptionally hard. Highest grade was a 66 out of 80. Curved the class so the average was a B+/A-. Helpful during office hours. For the final, conceptual questions were given. Most could be answered if you went to the lectures. Defintely worth taking, especially over Aprile.

Dec 2004

He is a very nice guy as for the final he gave out a sheet of 32 concept questions (most of them he mentioned the answer in class) He picked 5 out of those 32 questions to put on the final as one problem. I stop going to class towards the end like most people but I did went to his office hours to ask him questions about some of the 32 questions and he is willing to answer. The HW is more helpful then class itself (all the homework together count around 20% of your grade).

Dec 2004

Westerhoff is a decent lecturer. He goes at a moderate pace and explains things simply and clearly in that really neat quasi irish/british accent of his. I'd dare say he can even be interesting at times! Class demonstrations are definitely cool. However, don't let the clarity of the lectures fool you, because they have little to do with the final exam, which is very conceptually difficult. I understood all of the homework problems and still had difficulty on the final, because he expects you to combine multiple ideas in rather not so obvious ways that you have not prepared for. From what I've read, he's probably the most palatable of the 1401 profs, so if you need to take 1401, he's not a bad choice. However, if you're a premed and you care about your grade, you might want to deal with the ego blow and take 1201. 1401 is the same material you covered in AP physics, but it's tested in a more difficult manner.

Dec 2004

he is a nice guy. he is very funny and very tall. some of what he teaches is not in the textbook so it might be helpful to go to class. his finals and midterms however are based on what is in the textbook so you don't have to go to class unless you really want to learn extra stuff. he makes jokes in class and seems approachable.

Jan 2004

The only way I survived this class was by forcing myself to go to the lecture with my book, completely ignoring Aprile, and taking my own notes out of the book. Her lectures are basically straight from the book anyway. The TA holds a recitation the night before problem sets are due and does every problem for you, which is great until you get to the tests and realize you don't know how to do anything. Basically Aprile is brilliant with her research, but terrible when it comes to teaching.

Jan 2004

This is what happens when you hire a researcher without any experience in teaching and ask him/her to teach a really tough class. Prof Aprile is a nice lady but a terrible teacher. I went into this class loving physics, especially that I had gotten straight 100s in high school honors physics, but that all changed after this class. Every week less and less students showed up for the lectures. I tried to go to most lectures but ended up doing my chem lab report like a lot of other people. She basically does the same sample problems in the book and mumbles somethings to herself as she's doing them. A lot of times she wastes class time by talking about how she got a ticket from the cops for speeding, or how she loves to drive fast. The only people who did well in her class were people who had already taken both AP physics in high school and had done well in them. Anyway I haven't heard good things about the other 1401 teacher either so I'm afraid you have to make a choice between a bad and a worse.

Jan 2004

Alessandro does the non-mandatory recitation for Aprile's physics 1401. He's a very nice guy and will be more than glad to stay after recitation to go over more homework questions that you might have. He also goes much slower than Aprile so you actually have a chance of understanding the problem. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have gotten most of my homework done.

Dec 2003

Though this class is technically intended for students who do not have a background in physics, like myself, it is close to impossible to grasp the amount of required material in one semester. Ontop of that Sciulli does not make it any easier. Firstly, his lectures are straight out of the amazingly horrible text book. except for the occasional video clip. Out of the over 100 students in the class only a good 1/3 bothered showing up to lectures mostly cause they already knew everything. The only good thing about going to the lectures is that some of his demos were interresting. Otherwise he breezed through about 15 chapters of the book and spent forever on the easiest things like thermodynamics and fluids. To say the least, this was not an enjoyable first experience with physics. If you have the oppertunity to take the other section by all means do so!!

Dec 2003

Definitely one of the worst experiences in my life. You may as well never go to class becasue she poorly teaches right out of the crapy text and sleeping in your own bed is probably more comfortable anyway. She talks to the board, gets irritated easily by questions, poorly answers those questions (becasue she is never actually listening to them), delivers an unorganized lecture, does long complicated derivations that are not imperitive to learning the material at hand, and always runs out of time so that she ends up trying to teach an entire chapter in 10-15 min. Waste of time when it comes to office hours. Ask for help and she'll simply tell you to "do more problems. It will click. That is why the final is worth 50% of your grade." She is alomost as useless as her TA. He's a really nice guy but his english is lacking and he is never sure of anything. The up side?? The curves are great. nonetheless.... DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS...

Dec 2003

Frankly, the worst physics prof i ever had. Her lectures make no sense, her classes sizes are probably around the 180+ range but you only see about 50 students during her lectures. Homework is a hassle to do, but not too hard. The two midterms were ok but the final was really hard. DO NOT TAKE APRILE! Although I'm not sure how the other physics prof would be, I'm sure he/she would be better than aprile.

Nov 2003

"Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach." That being said, Sciulli can apparently DO very well, as implied by his noted prowess as a physicist. As far as teaching is concerned... Please, as a message from the proverbial graveyard of physics students who were unfortunate enough to choose Sciulli, DON'T take his class. You won't learn anything, you'll be bored out of your skull, you'll become depressed because the homework are graded in such an arbitrary manner (ninety percent of the grade seems to lie in one randomly chosen problem from the set; all the others make up the rest)... and the curve is ridiculous. I guess I should be happy when my grade of 52 on a midterm is curved up to a B, but it just makes me sad; I did want to learn something about physics, o so long ago... I agree with the previous reviewer about the subject matter; it is all algebraic substitution; my friend tells me all the time about her wonderful physics class where they talk about fascinating theories. I can't do anything but grumble about my phony homework assignments, impossible tests and my exponentially decreasing desire to have anything to do with science.

Nov 2003

Elena Aprile should, frankly, stick to her research. She was on the Columbia homepage for her great and revolutionary work in dark matter. Well, her lectures are like dark matter--students are nowhere to be found and nothing makes any sense. And the book isn't much better. I didn't learn anything. Her Italian accent's hindrance to her lectures was only exceeded by her TA's, which made recitations useless. I guess Elena is a nice person, but don't take her class unless you're looking for a cure to insomnia. I believe that in physics, teachers can make the biggest difference between understanding and learning the material and causing students to avoid class like the plague. I don't know what the other physics teachers at Columbia are like, but they have to be better.

Nov 2003

The previous reviews for Aprile are unduly harsh. Yeah, she has a pretty thick Italian accent, but once you get used to it, its not terribly difficult to understand her. The biggest problem is when she is deriving formulas. She'll sometimes ski steps, and every now and then make a mistake when writing something out. But if you speak up and call her on it, she's always more than willing to correct a mistake or explain the steps she doesn't write down. As far as the difficulty of exams, she does tons of problems in class. If you understand those, and understand the problems on the sample exams she makes available, the midterms and final should be a piece of cake. Yeah, she's certainly not the best lecturer around, but I think you'll learn physics well enough, and if you do some homework and pay attention to class sometime, and above all, go over the sample exams, the grades will come easily enough.

Aug 2003

Boring. I did not learn any physics for two semesters. Do not take her if you can take Kim instead. Kim substituted for her class once and was more organized and clear.

Jun 2003

A living nightmare! Physics used to be my favorite subject...until I came to her class. The worse teacher I've seen so far in Columbia. A useless class! She is completely disorganized and her concept of teaching is throwing in random examples in the board without explaining the theory, mumbling in Italinan accent, and hopelessly trying to explain a chapter in 20 minutes.

May 2003

Horrible lecturer. Depending on who you are, homeworks can be easy or hard so whatever, everyone in 1400 gets the same horrible book. I tried to stay awake in her class, but I just can't. If the 1600 class has a lecture about the same, I suggest you go to those and take the 1400 exam. The 1600 level class is so much more lively and you can pay attention, meaning you take better notes. So get a 1600 education but take the 1400 exam. If Kim is available, take him instead. Avoid this woman.

Apr 2003

Aprile's not a talented could probably learn the same amount straight from the text. Her tests vary in difficulty but as long as you know the material well, you will do well (much of that is based on the fact that there is a curve and the rest of the class doesn't do well). I suggest that you get a physics tutor or set up a study group, learn the material, and you'll get higher than a B+.

Apr 2003

If I ran the physics department this kid would be fired on day one. This TA is just another reflection of the ineptitude and complacency that is commonplace in our second rate physics department.

Feb 2003

i agree with the last review. i could actually feel the knowledge being sucked out of my brain during her lectures. she should go eat a physics textbook. DON'T TAKE HER.

Jan 2003

TA for Frank Scuilli's c1401. Absolutely worhtless TA! All he had to do was grade problem sets and he couldn't even do that properly.

Jan 2003

I have nothing good to say about this class. The department and the course itself are awful. The workload is simply unmanagable. The only people who are successful in this class have either taken physics before or are excellent cheaters. What's the point of teaching a class for students who already know the material? You simply can't do this course without collaborating with other students on problem sets. If you can, you shouldn't be taking this course. The problem sets are extremely dificult. The problems SHOULD start off relatively simple and than become progressively more difficult. However, they are nearly impossible, right from the start. There is nowhere to get a foothold in the problem sets. They don't focus on understanding any CONCEPTS of physics, which is what you SHOULD be learning in an intro physics course, they only deal with endless algebraic substitution. So much so, that a math nerd can wanker through this course without learning ANY physics concepts. The department help room hours are pitiful. Don't expect any significant help there. Don't expect any feedback on your problem sets either. Our TA lackey, Michael Cheng, who graded our problem sets was awful. The problem set answers he provided online were totaly useless and explained nothing. His notes were very hard to follow and he really liked to skip as many steps as possible. It's the steps and process that matter the most in physics, you idiot! I was tutored by an MIT nuclear physics graduate and she had a difficult time following his steps. Now to Scuilli. His lectures are boring. Reallly, really boring. His demonstrations seldom work. He rambles on in monotone. TA's grade your problem sets. Other people administer his exams. He is very hand-off. His lecture method is all mathematical explanations. For some reason, he thinks that showing derivations of formulas lead to a better understanding of physics. It doesn't. The textbook is also pitiful. Whoever chose this text for the course ought to be stabbed in the face with a hot soldering iron. If you look at a physics book from any other school, even a high school, you will notice that it is a thick, heavy book. This text is very thin and light. Why? Because it skips a bunch of very important material. Material that is important if you wish to actually LEARN physics for the first time. It is substandard and if you try to learn from it you will just waste alot of time trying to figure out what they have left out. I would reccomend getting another physics book if you nedd to teach yourself. Almost all physics books are written in the same order, so any will do (unless it't this book). If you have never taken physics before, avoid this class if you can. If you can't, maybe you could audit it before you take it.

Dec 2002

Horrible. I actually got stupider in physics by taking this class. She just mumbles and writes crap on the board and wonders herself how to teach it. hw is easy, everyone gets a B+ in the class, but the curve sucks in terms of getting an A- or above. out of 140 students only 10 end up with an A-...someone explain that to me

Dec 2002

If you're taking this class, you're either a biochem major, a lazy SEAS student, or a premed who decided that you were too good for 1201. The class is definitely boring, and it's taught straight from the book. You're better off spending the time doing toe problem sets, which will really help you on the exams. Don't worry about missing class, because all the lectures are online (pointless, since they're straight out of the book anyway). Curve is centered at B+. There is no calculus involved, but having a previous physics background really helps. Overall, class is pretty easy.

Dec 2002

prof aprile TRIES to be a good teacher. she is , however, dull as hell; her lectures are uninteresting, useless and completely straight from the -somewhat nice- textbook. the exams are not hard, and extremely well curved- a 19/50 on the 2nd midterm was a B/B+!! the homework problems take a long time to do, but it pays off in that the exams are in the exact same format and level. she solves problems in class sometimes, in a very unorganized way, and some of them also end up in the exams , so going to class sometimes can kind of end up helping you- considering you don't doze off to the sound of her italian accent!!

Nov 2002

Prof. Sciulli's class was an interesting experience. His lectures are straight out of the book, but very well put together. Attendence is not necessary, but he does go over some of the problem set questions in the problem sets in class. The tests are tricky but definitely doable, however dont be fooled by how easy the first midterm is because the second is much harder.

Nov 2002

Nice lady, but she has an italian accent and she mumbles. She uses a terrible textbook, and doesn't teach everything required to do the homework. If you think you can get by without going to class, think again. She tests on questions she went over in class. Also, if you do well on your first midterm, dont get cocky or confident, because the second is 5 times as hard. I'd take Parsons in 1601 before I took her for 1401 again.

Nov 2002

This professor is by far the most soporific being I have ever met. The class size was initially very high and as the semester progressed, only a few seats in the class were filled. The class features the topics which are briefly covered and the exams features problems which one has never seen, or has any oppurtunity to see how these problems are worked out. The physics is being taught by concepts whereas the exams are all application problems. Very frustrating and if there wasnt a curve, most of us would not pass the class.

Sep 2002

One of the worst teachers I have ever encountered. He is a super nice teacher and he means well but he cannot teach. He paces back and forth constantly and he talks to the chalkboard. He'll try to help you during his office hours. Often the office hours don't help either. Avoid taking him!

Jul 2002

If you take Aprile's class and want to actually learn something, be sure to grab a seat towards the front... She tends to mumble and her accent is sometimes a bit hard to understand (esp when she's mumbling)... Sometimes she'd forget that her audience is not the blackboard. But she does a good job doing sample problems on the board, though she's pretty bad at answering questions in class. Her exams are not too hard if you've done and understood the homework problems, which can take a looong time to do. Hint: Start early!

May 2002

Prof. Aprile generally teaches directly out of the text, which makes showing up to class unnecessary. To make the classroom even less populated, the answers to problem sets are all on the webpage (if you can fididdle with the URL). Tests are extremely well curved, and are easy to perform well on since she allows the use of a formula sheet. I recommend not going at all, and studying the day before the least you'll beat the curve.

Nov 2001

May 2001

I saw a skit one time about a guy who couldn't modulate the pitch of his voice.....well that reminds me of Prof. Cole. Prof. Cole is the most dry, boring, horrible, (you can keep inserting negative adjectives if you'd like) teacher I HAVE EVER HAD!!! People tell me he's brilliant, and maybe he is, but he couldn't teach to save his life. He is boring as hell and I think he talks to hear his own voice. He spends entire class periods on derivations, but once he reaches the final formula, that is it. He does not show you how to attack a problem using it. He said at the beginning of 1401 that he didn't want to just put up formalas and not explain them, so instead he puts up derivations and doesn't explain them. And his derivations are mainly equation manipulations that any monkey could do, so they don't even help in your understanding of the material. You walk out of every class either feeling well rested from the nap of utterly confused from listening to his useless drivel. And to make matters worse, he isn't even a nice guy. He doesn't even attempt to be friendly towards his students, even the 8 or 9 that actually show up to his class all the time. I once asked him to help me out on a problem set problem and he literally looked at his watch the whole time, meanwhile he has no problem going over the time of the class period by about 10 minutes each class. I have nothing nice to say about Prof. Cole. I honestly feel dumber after taking these classes. Avoid him at all costs! Transfer from SEAS if thats what you have to do.