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Dissecting the Physics Formula Sheet

By Tim Lesak in HSC
13th of April 2021

I get it. Physics can be a pretty daunting subject. I mean, in what other subject are you expected to finish writing a gruelling mini-essay only to follow it up with some stupidly difficult calculations? However, luckily for us, not all is bleak in the realm of this subject, for the Physics gods have smiled upon us, and have gifted us a beautiful four-page road map to help us through the mires of the exams- the Formulae sheet.

But of course, this road map is only going to be useful to you if you know how to read it- and that itself can be quite a task. So now, let me quickly run you down on everything this physics bible has to offer us.

The Data Sheet

Page one of this holy text is the data sheet, consisting of a whole bunch of the different constants and values you’ll use throughout your calculations. Moving top to bottom, we start off with the properties of various subatomic particles, which you’ll be making good use of in Mods 6 and 8 to determine aspects of their behaviour.

Next we have a few field and wave constants – some of which, like the speed of sound, are completely irrelevant to us, and we can just completely forget. Then we move on to the big scary orbital constants, like G, M and r, that you’ll see a lot of in the last topic of Mod 5.

Next are some of Mod 8’s quantum constants: h, R and u, before we wrap up this page with a few of the odds and ends relating to water, and the odd child of the bunch, Wien’s displacement constant, which you’ll use in that one formula in Mod 7.

The Formulae

Pages 2 and 3 really make up the meat of this text, providing your brain with the holy water to save you in the desert of the exam. The first section, Motion, Forces and Gravity, kicks off with everything you need for Module 5: The SUVAT equations up top (for projectile motion), a few mechanical energy formula (that you can mostly ignore), then our wonderful circular motion formulae, and finally the orbital equations down the bottom.

Section 2, Waves and Thermodynamics, is a bit less useful, but you might glance upon it occasionally during Mod 7. The big three equations we like here are , which will tell us all about the properties of electromagnetic waves,  for the double slit experiment, and  for when we are analysing polarisation.

Section 3 is all-you-can-eat Mod 6: Starting with basic electrostatic equations, moving on magnetic forces and all the cool equations you can use for the motor effect and its applications, before wrapping things up with the equations for idealised transformers. This section might seem a bit confusing at first, as a lot of the formulae loop back into one another, but once you’ve done some good practice with them, I know you’ll be fine!

Finally, the formulae wraps up on page 3 with Quantum, Special Relativity and Nuclear formulae – in other words, the cool stuff. The left column holds all the Quantum stuff you need to know: De Broglie wavelengths, Mod 7 Quantum model formulae, Einstein’s famous equation and more. The right-hand column starts with all our lovely Special relativity equations (they’re the really big, juicy ones), and wraps it up with two for describing Nuclear Decay in Module 8.

The Periodic Table

At last, on page 4, we have the periodic table. This is really just a staple of HSC Science, and we don’t really bother with it too much in Physics. You might want to glance over at it occasionally while you’re mapping out nuclear chemical equations in the end of Mod 8, but otherwise, we can keep the back page mostly shut.

So there we are! That’s a quick look at everything this beautiful document has to offer us. Of course, it’s a weapon that only increases in power as you become more used to using it – so get out there and start answering some questions!

Also, if you’ve been super confused this whole time about what “formula sheet” I’ve been talking about this whole time, you can find it here.