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Am I ready for Classical Mechanics?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Am I "ready" for Classical Mechanics?

Hello again, PF. I have a question about the Classical Mechanics course I'm taking this coming fall.

Thanks to having a few cruddy enrollment times in the past year, I've been taking my courses a bit out of order, but without any problems or conflicts. In fact, it's helped me load up on math classes and now I'm a couple math classes ahead of my peers. Now, I've enrolled in a Classical Mech. course for the upcoming quarter that involves Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics. I'm taking it a whole year early (I'm now a 2nd year student; the class is for 3rd years but doesn't require a 3rd year standing), only because none of the next five physics courses I should be taking are available for this quarter, and I've already met the prerequisites for the course (i.e. completed some first year physics, Linear Analysis I, and all the Calculus courses).

Nevertheless, I'm worried that, since it is a class pretty much only 3rd years take, there may be some expectation of me to have taken those five 2nd-year courses I haven't taken. They are Modern Physics I and II, Physics on the Comp., Instrumentation in Exp. Physics, and Electrical Measurements Lab. None of them are prerequisites, and it doesn't look like I need any of these courses to take a Classical Mechanics class, but I wouldn't know to be sure. There is no in-depth course description available as far as I know.

Should I not take this course so early, or am I good to go despite not having taken those courses?

Also, I have attempted reading and doing problems from the course textbook (Classical Mechanics by Taylor) on my own, and they seem very difficult. I can't tell if it is because I'm just dumb or I perhaps I just need a teacher's help to get me going. Are these upper-division courses usually fast-paced?

Thanks in advance for your input. Any advice at all will be much appreciated. :tongue:


TL;DR:
Are Calc, basic physics, and an intro class to ODE's and Linear Algebra really ALL I need for a course involving Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics? And will I, a 2nd year, be able to keep up with this 3rd year course? :confused:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I'm worried that, since it is a class pretty much only 3rd years take, there may be some expectation of me to have taken those five 2nd-year courses I haven't taken. They are Modern Physics I and II, Physics on the Comp., Instrumentation in Exp. Physics, and Electrical Measurements Lab.
None of those classes sound at all relevant to upper-division classical mechanics, so don't worry about not having taken these.

Also, I have attempted reading and doing problems from the course textbook (Classical Mechanics by Taylor) on my own, and they seem very difficult.
Did these problems invoke any math concepts you haven't seen before? If not then you're ready to tackle them; it will just take effort. You can expect problem sets in upper division physics courses to be significantly more time-consuming than in your previous courses.

Are Calc, basic physics, and an intro class to ODE's and Linear Algebra really ALL I need for a course involving Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics?
Yup.
 
  • #3
Did these problems invoke any math concepts you haven't seen before? If not then you're ready to tackle them; it will just take effort. You can expect problem sets in upper division physics courses to be significantly more time-consuming than in your previous courses.
Some concepts were unfamiliar, but the book offered a brief introduction to them in any case. I guess I'll have to practice doing these faster then. Thanks for the reply. :)
 

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