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A medical student who loves physics and wants to learn particle physics!

  1. Dec 9, 2011 #1
    I'm a medical student, currently in my 2nd year of medical school in India. I'm absolutely fascinated by physics and if not for my dream of doing research in neurology i would have taken up particle physics.
    My physics knowledge is limited to what i learnt upto the 12th grade but i am willing to teach myself more.
    I want to get serious about it and study it to well enough for me to be able to do a few calculations maybe upto an undergraduate level.
    So my question here is how should i go about learning particle physics on my own. How do i start, what books should i read, in what order, etc.
    I would be grateful for any suggestions . Thank you :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2011 #2
    Start by reading the Feynman lectures. They're a great set of books. After that you can look at each topic more indepth.
  4. Dec 9, 2011 #3
    According to me, you should first of all go through the first volume of Landau alongside a bit of Linear Algebra and Analysis. Then, do some QM from Sakurai alongside some more Analysis and Topology. Also, do some Special Relativity from second volume of Landau and some other books like Schutz. Then you can go on to do GR and QFT which are usually considered as advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. For them you will need a lot of Maths but that's a long way to go. Once you reach there, you will have enough experience to figure out what suits best for you and pursue it.

    Note that the order mentioned in my post is not linear, different people prefer to do things different way and in Physics such a linearity is very hard to find. You have to find a suitable mix for yourself of doing the Maths topics along with Physics according to the level of rigour you are comfortable with.
  5. Dec 10, 2011 #4
    He wants to get up to "maybe an undergraduate level" and do "some calculations". Feynman has no problems to solve, and the particle physics sections is out of date. The Landau, Schutz route is for the really serious! Maybe start with Halliday, Resnick, Walker: Fundamentals of Physics? Or a similar first year UG "all round" physics book? Such books have some sections on particle physics, and will give a good all-round introduction. It should be easy enough to dip into when you have time (if you have time!) and you'll get a few problems to play with that should be easy enough to solve after a long shift at the hospital... If that goes down easily then think about going through the Griffiths books - Electrodynamics, QM, and (finally!) Particle Physics. Another route - do an Open University (UK) distance learning degree, you can do courses in physics and neuroscience geared to your specific interests and end up with a BSc to add to your MD. Their courses are geared to enabling busy people like doctors to have a fighting chance of actually doing the work!
  6. Dec 10, 2011 #5
    As a complete aside, why not go and talk to someone in the radiation oncology department? If you have an MB, you can do many things in a combined MB/PhD program.

    Radiation oncology is all about applied particle physics. Lots of neat problems to solve and a great way of having your cake and eating it too. I did my doctoral studies in physical chemistry (many years ago) and eventually studied medicine and anesthesiology. That was a direct result of an undergraduate medical elective I did in my first year. I found the sicence (gas laws etc) easy to understand and the pharmacology was not much more difficult.

    Personally, I hated neurology. Too much tiptoeing through the neurons, for me! :)

    When you have a chance to combine interests, you truly can have the best of both worlds.

    Take care and good luck,
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