Physics Problem of the Fortnight (POF)


  1. The POF is open to all currently enrolled SLU students.[1]
  2. New problems will be posted every fortnight, more or less.[2]
  3. Solutions are due at noon on the date given on the problem.  Email them as Word, PDF, or Mathematica  documents to, or as hardcopy to Brian Watson’s mailbox in BH 224 , or in person in BH 218.
  4. Solutions will be judged by the physics faculty and awarded a score from 0 to 5 for completeness, accuracy, and elegance of presentation.  Drawings of cats will be appreciated but will not earn you a higher score.
    • A mere sequence of equations is not acceptable. You must explain what you are doing.
    • You may use Mathematica to graph functions or visualize your solution, provided you annotate your notebook.
  5. Winners choose one prize from the “Useless Stuff” list and one prize from the “Useful Stuff” list.
  6. The best solutions will be posted in the Bat Cave (the study area with the round table and homework solutions).
  7. Persistence Award—At the end of the semester the student with the greatest accumulated points can choose prizes according to (5) above unless they have already won an individual problem.


  • POF#5 - Due Monday, May 5, at 4:00 pm
  • POF#4 - Due Monday, May 5, at 4:00 pm
  • POF#3 - Due Monday, March 17, at 4:00 pm
  • POF#2 - Due Friday, February 7, at 4:00 pm
  • POF#1 - Due Wednesday, November 20, at noon

[1] Chemistry and Mathematics faculty, and other faculty with physics envy are welcome to submit solutions.  Correct entries will entitle their authors to a certificate proclaiming them honorary members of the physics department

[2] usually more.