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An independent Physics study, group for all levels

  1. Mar 7, 2009 #1
    There are a wealth of resources... videos, texts, libraries, etc. that are available to us in our studies in physics. Even Physics Forums sections devoted to compiling lists of such resources!

    For the sake of pacing, discipline, and other reasons (guidance?), who else would be interested in studying (introductory-advanced, "constructionist", axiomatic?) Classical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, and/or Quantum Mechanics at the upper level undergrad and early graduate level?

    Essentially we will create a comprehensive syllabus modeled on the courses taught at some universities (MIT OCW, Stanford, IIT). Choose the appropriate sections from appropriate texts, etc. And follow it more or less independently with the entire group setting the pace.

    This may be well-suited for interested students at all levels, mathematicians, philosophers, enthusiasts, stay-at-homers, and whoever.

    I'm sure something like this is happening constantly in a variety of settings and for however long such forum sites as Physics Forums have existed.

    But I hope this will be an entirely new group for a fresh group of well-intentioned learners.

    If you are interested, or have favourable suggestions, please reply to this topic or recommend it to others.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2009 #2
    I think this is a nice idea. I have been meaning to work through my "university Physics" text for the last few months ( I have been to busy with my actual classes to work on it) I plan on working through it this summer anyway.

    However, I don't see what you actually intend to achieve by having a specific group put together when there are already ways of using this site to help with independent studying (homework section). We would have to be working through the same text and at the same pace to get any real additional benefits I would think.
  4. Mar 7, 2009 #3
    You are right in that many resources exist for independent study. But a group of similar minded students have these added benefits:

    1. Pace... the curriculum we would adhere to. This is extremely useful for those who just don't have the "time."
    2. Common problem sets... comprehensive simple to challenging sets of problems (after all, no sane person should really have to do every problem in Griffiths!... that is somewhat inefficient)
    3. A way to help/re-explain challenging material to fellow students (this purpose is already somewhat fulfilled by Physics Forums, but a smaller group means fewer restrictions on what to ask, and greater way to "group-grok" various subjects within physics).
    4. A sense of camaraderie...

    It is not necessarily true that we stick to a single textbook. So long as we have a single curriculum with a stress on all the major theories, modes of thought, and mathematical machinery, we would transcend any single textbook.

    But the pace you mentioned is somewhat important. Even if some of us will "lag" and others will "hasten," so long as the curriculum's pace itself is maintained, we would all "finish" (which is vastly more important than how fast we finish).

    A canonical well-rounded education is what I am personally seeking. I hope to join those who think similarly and want to understand physics as comprehensively.
  5. Mar 7, 2009 #4


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    I'm interested in doing this. I was actually planning to work through Landau's Quantum Mechanics on my own, but doing it with other people would be a lot more fun. Is anyone interested?
  6. Mar 7, 2009 #5
    I hear Landau/Lifschitz is a great option of course. They in fact wrote an entire series in Russian, which was translated in to English.

    (vol 2 or was it vol 3 which was quantum?).
  7. Mar 7, 2009 #6


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    It's volume 3.
  8. Mar 7, 2009 #7
    I think this is a fairly good idea. I'd like to know if anyone would be interested in doing this for mathematical topics as well?
  9. Mar 7, 2009 #8
    math would be good. Out of curiosity what level is everyone at in physics and math? I have never taken physics so I am an absolute beginner there but I am finishing up calculus, DE, and LA. I am thinking about working on complex analysis over the summer.
  10. Mar 8, 2009 #9
    I am interested in this as well. I am currently studying Physics 1 on my own. Few months ago I learned some basic calculus on my own. It would be great to study calculus and mechanics (intro) in this kind of setting with other people.
  11. Mar 8, 2009 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    This is where this idea is going to come into trouble. Landau's books are outstanding - but I wouldn't try to learn from them the first time. They are almost unbelievably terse - it's not uncommon for him to skip steps which take many, many pages of calculations. By not having a professor, you miss two things - one is the guidance through these spots, and the other is the experience in text selection to avoid (or at least supplement) books like Landau for the first upper-division course.
  12. Mar 8, 2009 #11


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    The OP said "upper undergrad and beginning grad level" so I assumed this was not a first encounter with real QM. I've already had two courses in QM, and I've read many sections of Landau and I find it very accessible.
  13. Mar 8, 2009 #12
    As dx mentioned, I must clarify that this project is meant to be more 'in depth' (mathematically, conceptually, etc.) than an "introductory" class.

    This requires a significant amount of mathematical maturity (filling in the blanks on paper vs. "seeing" all the steps) and motivation - both of which can be developed over time and cooperation.

    (I've come to believe - I may be wrong about this - that mathematical maturity is more closely associated with psychological 'confidence' with the material than an intrinsic Will-Hunting-esque sense.)
  14. Mar 8, 2009 #13
    I am always interested in self-studying things. However, I am kind of worried about the "pace" issue. I know that, at least for myself, time would be something that comes and leaves randomly. I'm a senior mathematics major, and my workloads are sometimes heavy and sometimes not as bad.

    Anyway, with that said, I'd be willing to do this as best I could with either math or physics.

    In math, I have single-variable and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, one semester of abstract algebra (rings and fields), logic, geometry, odes, pdes, and i'm enrolled in real analysis right now. I also have a little experience with difference equations and probability.

    As far as physics goes, I have taken a semester in general calculus-based physics (introductory mechanics), and I'm currently in a second semester of general calculus-based physics (electromagnetism). I am also enrolled in an astronomy class. I've previously taken a course in thermodynamics/physical chemistry as well.

    Anyway, that's where i stand, and i'm usually interested in learning anything if i have some free time.
  15. Mar 11, 2009 #14
    Perhaps if we recruit a few more members, we can decide on a syllabus an get started. Right now, we have interest in Classical Mechanics, (Electrodynamics?), Quantum Mechanics, and some math.
  16. Mar 11, 2009 #15
    I have an interest in classical mathematics and math more than quantum mechanics but I'd be down for anything.
  17. Mar 11, 2009 #16

    Dr Transport

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    Stay away from mathematical topics by themselves, introduce the math needed for a subject as you get to it......
  18. Mar 11, 2009 #17
    Interesting, I would be interested in learning quantum mechanics and advanced electrodynamics (in addition to improving my linear algebra and diff eq skills). But it would have to wait until summer.
  19. Mar 11, 2009 #18
    I'm up for math, definitely
  20. Mar 11, 2009 #19
    What about the "syllabus" allowing for more work over regular university breaks, eg: Christmas break, summer, etc.

    I'm very interested in this, but it will be tough to fit the extra time in during regular school times.
  21. Mar 12, 2009 #20
    I think Troponin has a great idea. We could possibly make a lighter load during school semesters and make heavier loads during breaks (if of course we all have the same breaks!)
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