# Learning curve of Electromagnetism?

by martinlematre
Tags: curve, electromagnetism, learning
 P: 34 I'm taking a first year physics course and have been having a little trouble with the basics of newtons laws and forces and whatnot, though nothing that can't be fixed with a bit more hard work. I'm looking ahead now and seeing a lot of EM material, and after kind of taking a brief look at the homework, contents and whatnot I must say it seems quite unfamiliar. Do you find first year EM with no calculus to be a lot harder than the rest of first year content? I am just wondering if I'm going to have some trouble with it.
 P: 434 My intro to EM class was quite difficult, but what made it hard in my opinion was the calculus. It was the first time we really used calculus to solve problems outside of a math class, so we were learning new physics as well as using math we weren't very comfortable with. However, I did find it much more enjoyable than the non-calculus intro to EM I got in high-school, so I didn't mind taking the time and effort to really learn it. I found non-calculus EM to be hard just because I didn't enjoy it, but hopefully your experience will be different. If you've never seen EM before, the concepts can seem really weird and exotic, but usually what makes it so difficult is the inclusion of heavy math on top of foreign concepts, so you might not have a bad go of it if there's no calculus.
 Sci Advisor Thanks P: 2,107 It's no accident that Newton discovered calculus when solving physics problems. It's the natural language of physics. Non-calculus physics is incomprehensible, at least for me. Of course, it's a bit work to learn all the stuff about the differential operators grad, div, curl, the Laplacian, and the integral laws and how to apply them, but it's really worth the effort, because then one has a great tool to solve all kinds of physics problems. Another problem with electromagnetics is that it is still mostly presented in a quite old-fashioned way, as if it were easier to understand first the pre-relativistic way of presenting the material. In reality it's much easier to think about the electromagnetic field as a relativistic field what it in fact really is. Then a lot of trouble is avoided before you become aware of it, particularly all the quibbles about Faraday's Law, unipolar generators, etc.
P: 34

## Learning curve of Electromagnetism?

Yeah im not doing calculus intro.
 P: 86 I agree with Vanhees71. Some intro calculus would greatly reduce the difficulties of EM. Although here they start the course in the same way from static fields with experiments to electromagnetic effects in which relativity might take a very some portion, some circuits, and Maxwell's Equations. I think this is in part because for first year students it is very difficult to grasp all the necessary mathematical formalism to start from relativistic point of view, notwithstanding more direct and with more insight, and it would be too abstract for some students. But if you are genuinely interested in EM, I feel trying to learn those mathematics on yourself won't be bad if the textbook you choose teaches this in close relation to physics.