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  • Users: pmr
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  1. P

    Schools Should I take a gap year to self study before college?

    Hey Nicolas, First of all, congratulations on getting into a good school! I recently worked as a teaching assistant at Columbia for their advanced level intro physics sequence, 2800 and 2801. I graded papers, held recitations, etc... I also took those courses myself as an undergraduate, so...
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    Other Plugging numbers into my calculator wrong

    I'm sorry, but you just don't know what the real world is like. When you finish school and get an actual job they'll be putting reams of contrived questions on your desk every day. You'll have only a brief moment to answer each one, and precision use of a calculator under time pressure will be...
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    Testing How to sign up for Calculus BC on your own

    Try calling the college board, it might be a soft deadline, who knows. Also, any sane school will let you skip whatever intro courses you want. Just register for whichever classes feel at your level. If you complete a major in math or physics with a good GPA and some administrator notices that...
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    Learning LaTeX and Note-Taking

    If you want to really learn how to be a TeX hacker then I would suggest the following: 1) Get on a UNIX based operating system, if you're not already on one. Good candidates are OS X, Linux, or FreeBSD. If you go the Linux route then try either Fedora or Ubuntu. 2) Learn how to use a bash...
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    I can get my B.S. in Physics in 2 years w/ this Schedule....

    I second what Kilgour22 said. Incidentally, I'm 26 myself, so I'm in the same boat when it comes to doing a later-in-life undergrad degree in physics.
  6. P

    I can get my B.S. in Physics in 2 years w/ this Schedule....

    I never enjoyed moving quickly in school. I've done fast, and I've done slow. Slow is better. I'm sure you'll be able to do the homework and pass your exams, but will you really understand any of it on a deep and fundamental level? Just like your friends said, I would be terribly overwhelmed...
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    What are the prequisites for studying The Art of Computer Programming?

    I would list these as the prerequisites: (1) Solid mathematics experience, up to at least intermediate calculus. (2) Experience in a low level programming language. These days probably plain C. You should have written at least 2-3 small programs in plain C. (3) Experience with assembly...
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    Programs Should I give up being a physics major?

    If you're taking classes that use MasteringPhysics-based textbooks, then something already feels off to me. I would probably get a D in those classes too, just as a function of getting bored or frustrated with the low quality of the books.
  9. P

    How should I proceed in my study of physics / mathematics?

    I'd study the following things, and in this order: 1) Vector calculus 2) Basic linear algebra, of the non-abstract sort (especially eigenvalue problems) 4) Classical Mechanics, on a moderately advanced level) 5) Special Relativity 6) Electrostatics 7) Electrodynamics
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    Complementary self-studies during my undergrad

    The content of your post already makes it evident that you're very smart. Explicitly stating that you're gifted and have top marks with "moderate effort" is, at the very best, superfluous.
  11. P

    What is your experience with caffeine?

    I'm a part-time student at Columbia, and part-time employee there too. So between work and challanging classes I have a lot of sleepy days. I used to have a large cup of coffee every morning (always black, no milk or sugar). Then I would go grab another cup from from the department's kitchen...
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    Too late to pursue Computer Engineering at age 27?

    I'm 25 currently, and I'm doing a later-in-life undergraduate degree in physics at Columbia. I was a a software developer from ages 15-22, but it eventually killed my wrists, so now I'm switching careers. Actually, physics was always my primary passion, so it was a blessing in disguise that...
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    Programs Should I switch my perspective major away from Physics?

    You shouldn't quit physics, at least not for those reasons. You might, however, consider quitting high school, and forgetting the AP exams. Giving up interest in physics due to an AP exam is like giving up on Mexican food because of a bad meal at Taco Bell. The US high school system is like...
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    Ideas for physics project

    You could also take the pendulum example up a notch and do a double pendulum: You'd have to learn Lagrangian mechanics, but if you're good at calculus and you understand why ##\vec F = \nabla U## then Lagrangian mechanics is easy to pick up.
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    Ideas for physics project

    If you write a general gravity simulation then give all of the masses charge as well, with some having positive charge and some having negative charge. Now that the particles are charged, throw in a Coulomb force. Then on top of that throw in an "air friction" force that resists motion in...
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    Schools Adjusting to university teaching and learning

    The material in first year lectures will probably be available in textbooks. So note in advance that the opinions I'm about to express assume that students aren't desperately dependent on lecture sessions. In my experience you can't get any deep authentic learning out of math or physics...
  17. P

    Interesting book explaining the principle of least action in detail

    I would highly recommend Taylor's book on classical mechanics: You'll have to read the chapter on Variational Calculus and then the chapter on Lagrangian Mechanics. Once you understand those, the variational principle will make...
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    Is my Schedule too Much to Handle with Work Study?

    I think that's a really insane workload. You won't be able to delve into any of those subjects with any satisfactory depth given that sort of schedule. Especially not with work study on top of it all. Sure you'll be able to chug through problems related to conservation of energy in the...