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Advice for My Sophomore Physics Classes

  1. Aug 24, 2006 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I am a recently declared Physics major which means that this next year is going to be the year I start to really get involved with Physics. I am taking Introduction to Quantum Physics, Introduction to Astrophysics, and Differential Equations and Gen Chem I. I was also considering taking a MatLab course because I do not have any knowledge of a programming language. Would it be a good idea to take this class? Also, do any of you have advice on the classes I'm taking? Thanks for all the advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2006 #2
    What you learn from the matlab class would become very, very useful if you get into any kind of research. Especially if you are learning programming for the first time, I think it would be a very good language to learn. It seems like you are getting plenty of advanced introduction in your second year, which I guess is good. When you have enough math background (such as linear algebra, ODE, and PDE), you'd want to start taking the core classes such as mechanics and e&m early on (possibly concurrent with the math classes), so that you have time in your senior year to pursue your specialized interests. I also think that a little bit of probability theory is always useful for research in just about any science field.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2006
  4. Aug 24, 2006 #3
    Yeah what this guy said...

    Dam with if you pass all these classes with decent grades you will be at the to of society. Smarter than the masses lol.
  5. Aug 25, 2006 #4
    Thanks for the responses guys. I'm going to look into taking the MATLAB class. The only thing I'm worried about is the fact that my scheudle already seems to be pretty dense and I don't want my other classes to suffer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2006
  6. Aug 25, 2006 #5
    Well... not really. Those are pretty standard classes for a major in physics (except the chem, of course). Make sure you supplement the physics with math classes though; one of the things that most physics undergrads realize is that they don't know enough math to fully comprehend the physics.

    I would HIGHLY recommend (can't be stressed enough) a good linear algebra class, partial differential equations, and if you're planning on taking General Relativity a differential geometry class. Also, you might want to take a class on group theory (if they have); most of the time it's a higher level algebra class.

    Of course the standard classes of calculus: vector cal, complex variable cal, and anything else that might be of interest/value.

    In the end, DON'T FORGET THE MATH.
  7. Aug 25, 2006 #6
    Thanks for the advice joelperr. I'm taking differential equations this semester and I plan to continue taking math classes. Would it ever be wise to take two math classes at the same time or would that be too much on top of a Physics load?
  8. Aug 25, 2006 #7
    How are you taking QM if you haven't taken E&M, Mechanics, etc? Also, what about vector calc, linear algebra, and ODE? Or have you taken these already?

    I always thought QM was a junior level course.
  9. Aug 25, 2006 #8
    This is an introduction class, but I think we are using the same text as a junior level class would. I'm guessing the class will just be a "taste" of QM. And no, I haven't taken those math courses, but I am hopefully working towards them. Thanks!
  10. Aug 25, 2006 #9
    it seems like it would be hard to use the same textbook for both a class that doesn't require multivariable, and a class that does.
  11. Aug 25, 2006 #10
    My guess is that it's like the intro to quantum course here, which is a sophomore level thing that requires only freshman mechanics/e&m, and covers things like de broglie, heisenberg, nuclear physics, optics, etc., with a text like Modern Physics by Beiser.
  12. Aug 25, 2006 #11
    Do you guys have any advice for taking a QM Class?
  13. Aug 25, 2006 #12

    The intro class, just study. I'm assuming its not going into the linear algebra (my second year modern physics course didn't), so it will just be a lot of ODE solving really.

    I would advise getting Boas's Mathematical Methods book though. Work through the as much as you can during your second year if you can. You will be glad you did.
  14. Aug 26, 2006 #13
    I think sufficient background in linear algebra and PDE (idealy also probability) is all one needs to understand Q.M. at the level of griffiths (of course with a good background in freshman physics).
  15. Aug 26, 2006 #14
    Well, that depends on several factors; in the end you will just have to judge for yourself. However, I can tell you that the joint Honours programme in physics and mathematics here at my university boils down to pretty much that: either 3 physics + 2 math or 3 math + 2 physics for every semester, with no room for other options. Some people find this difficult, while most like the fact that they don't have to worry about writing an English essay on top of their test in statistical mechanics.

    Coming back to my earlier post, a good linear algebra class is essential to nearly everything that you will end up doing later on in physics. Don't skimp out on that.
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