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Advice for a chem major becoming more interested in physics

  1. Sep 18, 2008 #1
    subjects like Solid state chemistry, QFT, QCD, general relativity, particle physics, etc look interesting to me and i really would like to master them at some point.

    so far i have taken basic physics, calculus i-iii, introductory courses to ODE and PDE, pchem, and 2 introductory modern physics courses. the first modern physics course, which i signed up for on a whim, was really what introduced these subjects to me.

    i am nearing the completion of a BS in chemistry (just a couple of labs and inorganic 2 to go, im a transfer student so my schedule isnt like everyone elses) and need to take a 4000 level math course if i want a minor in math.

    what courses do i need to take to prepare for graduate level courses in these subjects? would i be able to study these as a graduate student if i pursued a PhD in physical chemistry? also, what is a 4000 level math course that i could learn with the very limited preparation ive had? i never took linear algebra but have been able to get by without it where it was listed as a prerequisite

    Here is a listing of 4000 level math courses offered by my school:
    some courses will list as a prerequisite for example MATH 3334: Advanced Multivariable Calculus which in turn has as a prerequisite MATH 3333: Intermediate Analysis, neither of which have i taken.

    is it foolish to expect to be able to take a 4000 course without more of a foundation in math?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2008 #2
    With a name like yours I don't think anyone will take you seriously here...

    Anyway, linear algebra is an absolute must. Without it, studying modern physics will be like learning calc without knowing algebra. Then, focus on complex and real analysis. Real analysis isn't really needed, but it will open the door to differential geometry which is. Differential geometry you could probably pick up on your own, and will help you understand relativity. And you will definately need vector calc.

    As for physics, you should learn 2 terms of electrogmagnetism. Advanced classical mechanics too. Chemists usually do a good job of teaching you thermo/stat mech, so you are set in that department. I can't say the same about quantum mechanics. It varies from school to school, and if you got through it without linear algebra I have a feeling what your quantum course was like. So look into some quantum mechanics books, unless you are doing your advanced one now. This I believe would be the bare minimum.

    And yes, doing advanced math without linear algebra (and other pre-reqs) will slaughter you. Especially since you didn't yet taste what rigorous math is. Expect your gpa to drop by 1-2 points.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008
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