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This table contains links to past papers from the SQA Advanced Higher Physics exam. These papers and solutions are reproduced to support SQA qualifications on a non-commercial basis according to SQA conditions of use.
CfE Advanced Higher 2017 paper solutions
2016 paper solutions
SQA Specimen Paper (including answers) specimen paper Revised Advanced Higher 2015 paper solutions
2014 paper solutions
2013 paper solutions
Traditional Advanced Higher 2015 paper solutions
2014 paper solutions
2013 paper solutions
2012 paper solutions
2011 paper solutions
2010 paper solutions
2009 paper solutions
2008 paper solutions
2007 paper solutions
2006 paper solutions
2005 paper solutions
2004 paper solutions
2003 paper solutions
2002 paper solutions
2001 paper solutions
I wrote a series of posts with pdf booklets about uncertainty
Information sheet on using Excel to process uncertainties and create graphs with error bars and a line of best fit.
Rotational Motion and Astrophysics
Rotational motion & Gravitation notes (thanks Mr Orr!)
What is the difference betweeen G and g?
Here is a clip from the BBC’s Beautiful Equations programme, where Newton’s law of universal gravitation is discussed.
Without Tycho Brahe’s detailed observations of the night sky, we would not have had Kepler’s Laws. Here is a bit of background on Tycho.
Here, Carl Sagan introduces Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.
If you watch this video on Youtube, you will see a huge number of alternative videos on Kepler’s work in the right sidebar.
Kepler’s 1st law:
Click on the picture below to try the simulator.
Kepler’s 2nd law:
Another simulation by the same guy.
Newtonian mechanics was unable to give an accurate prediction for the orbit of Mercury. It turns out Mercury is just a bit too close to the Sun for classical physics to work well and this provides evidence in support of general relativity.
In this video, astronomers and theoretical physicists explain their ideas about black holes and discuss observations of potential black holes. There are some nice animations to explain general relativity and, in the last section, those calculations of super massive black hole mass are using Kepler’s 3rd law.
Black holes and the Schwarzchild radius
Our Sun is a typical yellow star, so its emission would be represented by the middle star in this image.
image courtesy of kstars, kde.org – colour is exaggerated
The colour of a star also tells us something about the expected behaviour of a star, it’s lifetime, and destiny. This is achieved by plotting stars on a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. More about HR diagrams here.
This video clip looks at how the stars are arranged on the HR diagram.
While some HR diagrams use temperature along the x-axis, others use star classification. You can learn more about star classification in this Sixty Symbols video.
Stars are born in the clouds of dust and hydrogen gas in space. This video shows how a protostar can form and go on to become a main sequence star.
Once fusion is initiated in the star’s core, the hydrogen in the core is slowly converted into helium. While Hans Bethe solved the problem of pp chain fusion process in stars (see below), it was Hoyle who identified the pathway for producing heavier nuclei.
When there is no hydrogen left in a star’s core, the star becomes a red giant and leaves the main sequence.
Red giants appear as one group on the HR diagram. These stars are much larger than our Sun, click on the image below and zoom in to compare sizes.
scale of our Sun and several red giant stars: image from Osservatorio Astronomico Di Cagliari
Here is a video clip to explain internal processes in red giants.
Once a red giant has run out of fuel for nuclear fusion, the outer layer is shed as a planetary nebula, leaving a small hot core behind. The core is very hot but has low luminosity due to its small surface area. We call this a white dwarf star.
White dwarf stars appear as a cluster in the bottom left of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. This video discusses the mechanism that prevents a white dwarf star from collapsing.
The precise lifecycle of a star depends on its mass. The route described above relates to an average star such as our Sun. If the star is heavier, it follows a different path as shown in the diagram below.
So what is a supernova? This video from Sixty Symbols explains…
And neutron stars…
Black holes are covered in the gravitation & general relativity sections above.
Fusion in stars
A star is drawing on some vast reservoir of energy by means unknown to us. This reservoir can scarcely be other than the subatomic energy which, it is known exists abundantly in all matter; we sometimes dream that man will one day learn how to release it and use it for his service. The store is well nigh inexhaustible, if only it could be tapped. There is sufficient in the Sun to maintain its output of heat for 15 billion years. — Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
The German/American astrophysicist Hans Bethe developed the solar fusion model we still use today. There are different branches to the model. Each has its own slightly different route to create helium from protons, releasing different quantities of energy in the process. Bethe won the 1967 Nobel Prize for Physics; here is a summary of his work and a copy of the Nobel Prize award ceremony speech.
Hans Bethe’s security pass for the Los Alamos facility. image: wikipedia
Bethe worked on the Manhatten Project at Los Alamos during World War II. He later campaigned for an end to nuclear weapons alongside Albert Einstein.
The fusion process is our Sun is called proton-proton fusion and the steps you need to know are outlined in the diagram below. Click on the diagram for a larger version.
This video shows the full pp chain process.
This video from Sixty Symbols is about solar neutrinos. The first half has a nice series of animations about the full pp chain fusion process.
Quanta & Waves
This stuff can hurt your head. Take the de Broglie equation, who would want to find the wavelength of an electron?
Black body radiation
Particles from Space
The charged particles in cosmic rays interact with the Earth’s magnetic field to produce the Aurora Borealis. More information here and here. While I wouldn’t recommend trying to recreate the aurora in the classroom, it’s possible to demonstrate the underlying physics with a pair of Helmholtz coils and a fine beam tube, as shown in this remarkably good educational video from 1959.
Here is a video introduction to Simple Harmonic Motion. Some of the maths used during the video, for example the addition of the term in the brackets, is not required for the AH course.
Here is a video on polarisation from the people at sixty symbols.
Here is a video showing wave behaviour. The superposition (addition) of two waves travelling in opposite directions is particularly clear.
We use permanent magnets and electromagnets in class, but to create a really strong magnetic field requires a superconducting magnet like the one in this video.
Disclaimer: I used to work for the company that built that magnet.
This article looks at different types of commercially available inductors.
Here are some examples of electromagnetic induction:
This clip from Sixty Symbols is really more about transformers than inductors but the explanation is good and you get to see the back-emf lighting in action.
Mr Smith has a video where he works through a past paper question on inductors in ac and dc circuits.
Watch Mr Smith work through a past paper question on capacitors and time constants.