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# High School Physics - Core Concept Master Cheat Sheet

## O1: Basic Skills in Physics 03: Solving Physics Problems

• Physics: Study of the physical world. Science of energy General Problem Solving Strategy:
• Metric System: System of measurement based on Step 1: Identify what’s being given
multiples of 10. Step 2: Clarify what’s being asked.
• SI System: Systeme International d’Unites (International If necessary, rephrase the question
system of units). Step 3: Select a strategy
• Uncertainty: The last digit in a measurement is Trial & error, search, deductive reasoning,
uncertain—each person may see it slightly differently when knowledge-based, working backwards
reading the measurement. Step 4: Solve using the strategy
• Significant Figures: Digits that were actually measured Step 5: Review the answer
and have physical significance. (Also called “significant
digits”) Use the KUDOS method for solving word problems.

## The metric system uses prefixes to indicate multiples of 10 K = Known

U = Unknown
Metric Prefixes commonly used in physics D = Definition
Prefix Symbol Multiple O = Output
Kilo k 1000 S = Substantiation
Deci d 0.1
Centi c 0.01 Multiple-choice tips:
Milli m 0.001 Scan all the choices
Micro μ 0.000001 Avoid word confusion
Nano n 0.000000001 Beware of absolutes
The “base unit” is when there’s no prefix. Essay tips:
Understand the question
To determine the equivalent in “base units”: Answer the whole question and only the question
1. Use prefix to determine multiple Watch your time
2. Multiply number by the multiple Free-Response tips:
3. Write the result with the base unit Show partial work
Examples: Don’t forget units
1.25 mL Æ “milli” means 0.001 Æ 0.00125 L Don’t be fooled by blank space
87.5 kg Æ “kilo” means 1000 Æ 87500 g
04: Motion in One Dimension
02: A Mathematical Toolkit • Vector: A quantity that represents magnitude (size) and
direction. It is usually represented with an arrow to indicate
the appropriate direction. They may or may not be drawn to
If a # is … to a then … the # to Example
scale.
variable, solve for the
• Scalar: A quantity that can be completely described its
variable
magnitude, or size. It has no direction associated with its
size.
-2 -2
• Velocity: Speed of an object which includes its direction of
5-2 = x
motion. Velocity is a vector quantity.
• Acceleration: Rate at which an object’s velocity changes
+6 +6
with time; this change may in speed, direction, or both.
3-6 = x
Multiplied Divide 2 = 4x
• v=d/t
1. 4
• a = Δv/Δt=(vf-vi)/t
2/4 = x
• d=vit+at2/2
2 • acceleration due to gravity = -9.8 m/s2
2·6=x
• For sign conventions, assign a direction as positive, keep
On Your Calculator: this convention throughout the problem, any quantities in
• Always use the ÷ key to designate a number is on the the opposite direction must be negative.
bottom of an expression. • Often, up and right are positive, while down and left are
• Always use the EE (or EXP) key to enter scientific notation. negative.
• Always use parenthesis around addition or subtraction
when combining it with other operations The motion of an object moving with a constant acceleration is
• To make something negative (when taking the number to a pictured below. The distance moved in each unit of time
power), keep the negative outside of the parenthesis. increases. In fact, it is proportional to the square of the time.

Important Formulas:
opposite opposite
sinθ = tanθ =
hypotenuse adjacent • An object moving with a constant velocity would cover
equal amounts of distance in equal time intervals.
adjacent − b ± b − 4ac
2
• An object moving with a constant acceleration would cover
cosθ = x= varying amounts of distance in equal time intervals.
hypotenuse 2a

05: Vectors and Motion in Two Dimensions 07: Work and Energy
• Resultant: the result of adding two or more vectors; • Work: Product of force on an object and the distance
vector sum. through which the object is moved.
• Vector Component: the parts into which a vector can be • Power: Work done per unit of time.
separated and that act in different directions from the • Energy: The ability to do work.
vector. • Base level: An arbitrary reference point from which
• Vector Addition: The process of combining vectors; added distances are measured.
tip to tail. • Kinetic Energy: The energy an object has due to its motion.
• Gravitational Potential Energy: The energy an object has
Vertical due to its position above some base level.
Velocity of a projectile
component • Work Energy Theorem: The work done is equal to the
change in energy.
• Conservation of Energy: energy is not created or
destroyed, just transformed from one type to another.
Horizontal component
• v=d/t • W= F d = mad
• a = Δv/Δt=(vf-vi)/t • W = F d cos θ
• d=vit+at2/2 • P = W/t
• vf2=vi2+2ad • a = Δv/Δt
• Pythagorean Theorem: c2=a2+b2 • cos θ = adjacent / hypotenuse
• Sin θ = opp/hyp • KE = ½ mv2
• Cos θ = adj/hyp • PE = mgh
• acceleration due to gravity = -9.8 m/s2 • Work is done only when a force acts in the direction of
• Important formula note: All of these formulas could motion of an object
apply to any direction. Common subscripts are shown that • If the force is perpendicular to the direction of motion, then
indicate the direction of a particular quantity no work is done.
• v or y = vertical direction • Power is the ratio of work done per time
• h or x = horizontal direction • Energy may appear in different forms, but it is always
conserved.
• Projectiles move with a constant acceleration due to • The total amount of energy before and after some
gravity only in the vertical direction. interaction is constant.
• Projectiles move with a constant velocity only in the • Work and energy are interchangeable.
horizontal direction.
06: Forces and the Laws of Motion
• Static Equilibrium: A motionless state where all the 08: Momentum and Collisions
forces acting on an object yield a net force of zero. • Momentum: A vector quantity that is the product of mass
• Dynamic Equilibrium: A condition of constant and velocity of an item. It may be considered as inertia in
motion/zero acceleration where all the forces acting on an motion.
object yield a net force of zero. • Impulse: A change in momentum. The product of force
• Friction Force: A force that acts to resist motion of and the time through which the force acts.
objects that are in contact. • Conservation of Momentum: The momentum of a system
• Normal Force: Support force that acts perpendicular to a will remain constant. Momentum isn’t created or destroyed
surface. If the surface is horizontal, this force balances the unless an outside force is acting on the system.
weight of the object. • Elastic Collision: A collision where there is no kinetic lost,
• Force: A vector quantity that tends to accelerate an object; momentum is still conserved, the object have no
a push or a pull. deformation.
• Net Force, Fnet: : A combination of all the forces that act • Inelastic Collision: A collision where kinetic energy is lost
on an object due to heat, deformation, or other methods. However,
• Fnet=ma momentum is still conserved for the system.
• μ=Ff/FN • P=mv
• Fnet=ΣF = the sum of all forces • Ft=mΔv
• J=Ft
• Newton’s 1st law: An object at rest wants to stay at rest,
an object in motion tends to stay in motion; inertia. • Explosion: one object breaking into more objects.
• Newton’s 2nd law: Fnet=ma. 0=mv+mv+…
• Newton’s 3rd law: For every force that is an equal and • Hit and stick: one object striking and joining to the other.
opposite force; action and reaction. m1v1+m2v2=(m1+m2)v3
• Hit and rebound: one object striking and bouncing off of
An inclined the other. m1v1+m2v2=m1v3+m2v4
plane showing FN A
all the forces
acting on the m Ball A strikes
object: F┴ A B motionless ball B.
Ff After the collision
they move off as
W shown.
B
Note how momentum is conserved. In the X direction, the
θ F║ moments add up to the original momentum before the
collision. In the Y direction, the moments cancel out since
there was no momentum in that direction initially.

09: The Law of Gravity and Circular Motion 11: Solids and Fluid Dynamics
• Centripetal Force: a center seeking force for an object • Solids: Matte with definite shape and volume
moving in a circular path. • Fluids: Matter with indefinite shape and definite volume
• Centrifugal Force: An apparent, but nonexistent, outward • Thermal expansion: Volume of matter increase with
pointing force for an object moving in a circular path. A temperature
rotating object may seem to be pushed outward, but • Stress: Force causing deformation
actually must be pulled inward in order to maintain any • Strain: Degree of deformation
circular path. • Buoyancy: The force caused by pressure variation with
• Inverse Square Law: A relationship relating the strength depth to lift immersed objects
of an effect to the inverse square of the distance away from • Surface tension: The force to attract surfaced molecular to
the source. make the surface area of fluid as small as possible
• Gravitational Field: The map of influence that a massive • Capillary action: The phenomena of fluids automatically
body extends into space around itself. raising in open-ended tubes
• Linear Speed: Straight path distance moved per unit of • Viscosity: The inter-friction mechanism in fluid to dissipate
time, also referred to as tangential speed. energy
• Rotational Speed: Number of rotations or revolutions per • Laminar flow: Every particle passing a particular point
unit of time, often measured in rpm, revolutions per moves exactly along the smooth path followed by particles
minute. passing that point early
• Universal Gravitational Constant: A proportionality • Turbulent flow: The irregular flow when the velocity of the
constant that relates the strength of gravitational attraction flow is high
in Newton’s law of universal gravitation. • Thermal expansion: (L − L0 ) = α (T − T0 )
• Fg=Gm1m2/d 2
• Pressure variation with depth: P = ρgh
• G=6.67x10-11Nm2/kg2
• ac=v2/r • Buoyancy (Archimedes’ principle): B = ρgV
• Fc=mv2/r • Bernoulli’s equation (along any streamline):
1 2
• Weightlessness: Astronauts “floating” in space may P+ ρv + ρgh = const
appear to be weightless. However, the pull from gravity 2
definitely still acts on them. If it didn’t, their inertia would
carry them off in a straight line never to return to the Applied force
earth. Instead, the pull from gravity acts as a centripetal
• Stress =
force to maintain their orbit about the earth.

## 10: Rotational Equilibrium 12: Temperature and Heat

Kelvin: The Kelvin scale measures absolute temperature. At
• Torque: The rotational quantity that causes rotation; the
0 Kelvin, particles in an object are still. Other temperature
product of force times lever arm.
scales related to the Kelvin scale.
• Lever Arm: The distance from the axis of rotation to the
Celsius: A temperature increase of 1°C is equal to an increase
location where the force is applied.
in temperature of 1K. However, 0°C ≠ 0K. The Celsius scale
• Moment of Inertia: The rotational equivalent of linear
is based on the boiling and freezing points of water. Thus,
inertia; a measure of the ease of rotating some object.
water freezes at 0°C and boils at 100°C
• Angular Momentum: The rotational equivalent of linear
momentum that describes the tendency of an object to
continue rotating.
D
C + 273 = K
Fahrenheit: The Fahrenheit scale is set such that water
• Rotational Equilibrium: The situation when the net
freezes at 0°F and boils at 212°F.
torque on an object equals zero.
• Radian: A unit of rotational displacement; one revolution 9
D
F = DC + 32
5
For changes in temperature:
• I=Σmr2
• L=Iω Qheat = m × C p × ΔT m = mass; ΔT = T2 – T1
• Ƭ=F l For increases in temperature that cross several phases simply
sum the Qfus, Qvap, and Qheat as needed.
Linear motion formula Rotational motion For changes in state: Temperature doesn’t change as the
formula added energy is used to break intermolecular forces.
d ∆θ
v=
t
ω=
∆t
Melting: ΔQ fus = m × L fus Qfus = heat of fusion
∆v ∆ω
a=
∆t
α=
∆t
Boiling: ΔQvap = m × Lvap Qvap = heat of vaporization
Heat, Work, and Internal Energy: The internal energy U of
d = v i t + at /2
2
θ = ωi t + αt /2
2
a system is defined as the sum of the heat energy Q in the
system and the work W done on or by the system.
2
f
2
i ω2f = ωi2 + 2αθ
U = Q +W
• θ= angular displacement
• ω=angular speed Calorimetry: Calorimetry is used to measure the heat given
• α=angular acceleration off from or taken up by a reaction. Calorimetry assumes that
heat released by the system to the surroundings is used to
• Ƭ=torque
heat or cool the surroundings.
• I=rotational inertia
• Draw a diagram if needed. Identify all given information. ΔQsystem = −ΔQsurroundings
Be sure to make diagrams or calculations with direction in
mind. Draw all forces and components.

13: Thermodynamics 15: Sound
• Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics: Objects in thermal • Sound: A form of energy .When Matter vibrates very
equilibrium are at the same temperature. Objects in quickly it transports energy in the form of waves. It
contact will eventually come to thermal equilibrium. stimulates our sense of hearing. Sound waves are pressure
• 1st Law of Thermodynamics (Law of Conservation of waves (energy per unit area). Sound cannot travel through
Energy): Energy cannot be created nor destroyed in a vacuum. A wave is a carrier of sound energy.
chemical or physical process. • Beats: The periodic and repeating fluctuations heard in the
ΔU = ΔQ + W intensity of a sound. Two sound waves of nearly same
frequencies interfere with one another to produce beats
U = internal energy (in J)
• Pitch: The highest or lowest sound an object makes.
Q = heat (in J);
• Audible sounds: The audio spectrum extends from
W = work done on (W>0) or by (W<0) the system
approximately 20Hz to 20,000 Hz. These sounds can be
• Entropy (S): Disorder or random-ness
heard by human ear
• Below 20 Hz – Infrasonics
Has less entropy Has more entropy • Above 20KHz – Ultrasonics
Solid Liquid • Doppler Effect: The apparent change in the frequency of
Liquid Gas sound due to relative motion between the sound source and
Solute Crystals in Solvent Dissolved Solution observer is called Doppler Effect.
Simple molecules Large, complex molecules • Intensity: The loudness οφ sound is directly proportional to
Less molecules More molecules the square of the amplitude or intensity (I). It is convenient
to use a logarithmic scale to determine the intensity level
• 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: The total entropy of the β = 10 log (I/I0)
universe can never decrease. • Reference intensity or threshold of hearing , I0 = 1.00
ΔS total ≥ 0 x 10-12 W/ m2 ; β = 0 dB
• Stationary or Standing waves are formed due to
superposition of two identical waves moving in opposite
Note that the entropy of the system may decrease so long as directions.
the entropy of the surroundings increases by an equal or
greater amount.
ΔS system + ΔS surroundings ≥ 0 • There is no net flow of energy in the medium.
• Node: The points of no displacement when standing waves
are formed.
Living things utilize this concept by couplings the building of • Antinodes: The points along the medium which vibrate
organized molecules such as DNA to the release energy as back and forth with maximum displacement.
heat and an increase in the total entropy of the surroundings. • Echo: The sound obtained by reflection at a wall, cliff or a
mountain is called an echo.
14: Vibrations and Waves 16: Interference,Diffraction and Polarization
• Wave motion: The process in which the disturbance in a • Electromagnetic Spectrum: A diagram that illustrates all
point in the medium is transmitted to other parts of the the varieties of electromagnetic waves based on their
medium without the bodily movement of the particles. relative frequency/wavelengths. Our eyes observe only a
• Longitudional Waves: The particles in the medium move small amount of this spectrum.
parallel to the direction of the wave. Eg. Sound waves • Principle of Superposition: When two or more waves
• Transverse waves: In a transverse wave the particles in occupy the same region of space simultaneously, the
the medium move perpendicular to the direction of the resulting wave disturbance is the sum of separate waves.
wave. Eg. Light waves, waves on strings. • Constructive Interference: Two or more waves
• Time period (T): The time taken by a body to complete superimposing to create a resulting wave that has larger
one vibration. amplitude.
• Frequency: Frequency is the number of oscillations • Destructive Interference: Two or more waves
completed in a unit time superimposing to create a resulting wave that has smaller
• Amplitude (r): The maximum displacement of the body in amplitude.
vibration. • Diffraction: The bending of waves around corners or small
• Mechanical waves: A mechanical wave is just a openings.
disturbance that propagates through a medium • Young’s Double Slit Experiment: Experiment that
• Electromagnetic wave: An electromagnetic wave is measured the wavelength of light by interference from two
simply light of a visible or invisible wavelength. Oscillating small slits
intertwined electric and magnetic fields comprise light. • Polarization: Light where the electric field fluctuates in only
Light can travel without medium. one direction.
• Crest: The maximum displacement position in a wave is • 3x108m/s speed of light in a vacuum
called a crest. • sinθ=mλ/d bright fringe formula
• Trough: The minimum displacement position in a wave is • sinθ=(m+1/2) λ/d dark fringe formula
called a trough • sinθ=mλ/d diffraction grating formula
• S=Socos2θ Malus’ law
• Period of a swinging pendulum: T = 2π√(l/g) Here a
• Period of a mass on a spring: T = 2π√(M/K) polarizing filter
• Wave speed equation: v=fλ changes
• f = 1/T random
unpolarized
• Reflection of a wave at a boundary: When a wave is light into a
progressing towards an open end or from a medium of wave that
greater to lesser density it reflects back with the same vibrates in only
direction of displacement. When a wave is progressing Unpolarized Polarizing Polarized one direction.
towards a fixed end it gets inverted. light filter light

17: Reflection, Refraction and Lenses 19: Conductors, Capacitors and Dielectrics
• Law of Reflection: The angle of incidence equals the • Conductor: Material where electrons are loosely bound and
angle of reflection. are able to flow throughout due to the free electrons.
• Virtual Image: An image that cannot be projected onto a • Insulator: Materials where electrons are bound and don’t
screen. The rays of light don’t actually converge there; flow easily.
they just seem to originate from that location. • Semiconductor: Materials in between insulator and
• Real Image: An image where the rays of light actually conductor.
meet at a location. It can be projected onto a screen. • Superconductor: A material where electrons flow without
• Refraction: The bending of light due to its change in any resistance. Generally, superconductivity only occurs at
velocity in various media. very low temperatures.
• Index of Refraction: The ratio between the speed of light • Resistor: A device used to control or regular the amount of
in a vacuum and a particular medium. electric charge flowing.
• Total Internal Reflection: The complete reflection of • Resistivity: An intrinsic property of a material that partially
light when it strikes the boundary between two media at determines the resistance of a wire.
greater than a critical angle. • Capacitor: A device used to store or accumulate electric
energy. This is done by oppositely charging two nearby
• 1/f=1/do+1/di conductive surfaces that are not in contact with each other.
• m=hi/ho=-di/do • Dielectric: an insulating material is inserted between the
• n=c/v plates of a capacitor.
• n1sinθ1=n2sinθ2 angle of • Dielectric Constant: the factor that describes the
incidence
Note how the between the plates of a capacitor.
beam bends to
• R=ρ L/A
the normal
when entering • q=CV
the more dense air Refracted • C= kε o A/d
angle of beam
glass medium. •ε =8.85x10-12C2/Nm2
refraction o
Then it bends
away from the • Uc=qV/2=CV2/2
glass
normal when re • V=PE/q
entering air. “unrefracted”
beam Factors that determine the resistance of a wire:
• Resistivity of wire material
• Length of wire
18: Electric Forces and Fields • Cross sectional area of wire
• Charge: A fundamental intrinsic property of matter that • Temperature of wire
gives rise to the attractions and repulsions between
electrons and protons.
20: Circuits
• Charging by Contact: The transfer of electric charge from • Series Circuit: A circuit where the components form one
one object to another by simple contact or conduction. continuous loop. The current is constant throughout.
• Charging by Induction: Redistribution or charging or an • Parallel Circuit: A circuit where each component is
object by bringing a charged item in close proximity to, but connects to form its own separate independent branch. The
not touching, an uncharged object. voltage is constant throughout.
• Coulomb’s Law: Mathematical relationship between • Internal Resistance: Resistance from the processes inside
electric force, charge, and distance. The electric force a voltage source; resistance due to the battery itself.
varies directly with the product of the charges, and • Kirchhoff’s Laws: Two laws, the junction and loop rule,
inversely to the square of the distance between the that help describe circuits with multiple loops or voltage
charges. sources.
• Polarized: Separation or alignment of the charges in a • Junction Rule: A restatement of conservation of charge;
neutral body so that like charges are grouped together, the current going into a junction must equal the current
resulting in a positive and a negative region. going out of the junction.
• Electric Field: A force field that fills the space near any • Loop Rule: A restatement of conservation of energy; the
charge. sum of all voltages in the elements of a loop is zero.
• Electric Potential: The ratio of electric potential energy to
electric charge at a particular spot in an electric field. It is • V=IR Ohm’s law
often referred to as voltage since it is measured in volts. • P=IV=I2R
• Equipotential Line: A line where all points have an equal • RS=R1+R2+R3+…
electric potential, or voltage. • RP=1/R1+1/R2+1/R3+…
sw itch In this series
• FE=kq1q2/r2 circuit the
• k=9x109Nm2/C2 current flow
2
• k=1/4π ε o ε o =8.85x10-12C2/Nm2 batteries
Light would be
bulb
equal
• 1 Coulomb = 6.25x1018 electrons
throughout.
• E=F/q - resistor
• V=PE/q
• V=kq/r
In this parallel
Diagram shows the electric field circuit the 2
surrounding an area of negative voltage to each
batteries
charge. The E field lines always point in the direction that a resistor would
small positive test charge would move in the field. be equal.

21: Magnetic Fields 23: Atomic Physics
• Magnetic Domains: Microscopic areas of atoms where the Bohr’s atom model - Proposed by Neil Bohr in 1913
magnetic fields are aligned.
• Ferromagnetic: A naturally magnetic class of materials
where the magnetic domains are ordered and do not cancel
out.
• Magnetic Field Lines: Lines showing the shape and
extent of a magnetic field around a permanent magnet or a
moving charged object.
• Mass Spectrometer: A device that magnetically • First postulate: An atom consists of a positively charged
separates charged ions according to their mass. A nucleus at the centre. The electrons move round the nucleus
magnetic field is used to accomplish this separation. in certain stationary orbits of definite radii and not all
• FB=BIL sinθ • Second postulate: The radius of the orbit is such that the
• FB=qvBsinθ angular momentum of the electron is an integral multiple of
h/2p
• B = μ o i / 2π r
• Third postulate: Electron may jump from one orbit to the
• μ o=4π x10 Tm/A
-7
other, in which case the difference in energy between the
two states of motion is radiated in the form of a light
Right Hand Rule, RHR quantum.
1. The fingers extend or curl in the direction of the magnetic • Atomic Spectra Solids, liquids and diffused gases emit
field. light when heated. This light produces ordered arrangement
2. The outstretched thumb points in the direction of of lines or bands or continuous patch of light.
conventional current, or the direction of a positively charged
moving particle.
3. A line perpendicular to the palm indicates the direction of
the magnetic force.
X X X X X

X X X
. . .

. . .
X X
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
If position is identified the momentum cannot be measured
X X X X X
If momentum is measured the position is lost.
Δx X Δp ≥ h / 4π
22: Electromagnetism 24: Nuclear Physics
• Electromotive Force, EMF: A voltage that gives rise to a • Radioactivity: Emission of radiation as a consequence of a
current flow. This voltage can be induced or created by a nuclear reaction, or directly from the breakdown of an
changing magnetic field. unstable nucleus.
• Induced current: The flow of charge in a conductor due • Half Life: The time required for half of the nuclei in a
to the changing magnetic flux near that conductor. sample of a specific isotope to undergo radioactive decay.
• Lenz’s Law: The induced emf always gives rise to a • Alpha Particle: A positively charged helium nucleus
current whose magnetic flux opposed the original change in (consisting of two protons and two neutrons).
magnetic flux. Thus, the induced current tries to maintain • Beta Particle: An energetic electron produced as the result
the level of magnetic flux. of a nuclear reaction or nuclear decay.
• Generator: A machine that produces electricity by a • Gamma Particle/Ray: Very high frequency
rotating coil of wire immersed in a stationary magnetic electromagnetic radiation emitted as a consequence of
field. This rotating motion could be obtained from a variety radioactivity.
of sources. • Fission: The process whereby one item splits to become
two.
• ΦB=BAcosθ • Binding Energy: The energy needed to separate the
• Acircle=∏r2 constituent parts of an atom or nucleus
• ε=-NΔΦ/Δt • Mass Defect: The difference between the mass of an atom
• ε=BLv and the sum of the masses of its individual components.
Half Life: The amount of time needed for half of the original
X X X nuclei to decay away into another element.
Calculating Binding Energy:
1. Determine the masses of each of the particles
X X X individually.
2. Determine the mass of a whole nucleus.
3. The difference between the two provides “m”.
X X X 4. Use m in the equation E=mc2 to calculate E.

## • Nuclear power plants have provided energy for half a

Here the conducting loop begins to pass into the magnetic century.
field that goes into the page. An induced emf, and current • Atomic bombs are based on fission and among the most
are created. The current flows so that the newly created B destructive weapons ever created.
field opposes the change in the original B field. While totally Medical applications of radioactivity are commonplace in
immersed, no current would flow since there would be no our society, and are seen in cancer therapy, tracers,
change in the B field flux. tomography (PET scans), NMRs and MRIs.