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Classical Mechanics or General Physics?

  1. May 31, 2014 #1
    I'm thinking about being a physics major with a double major in Earth Science. At my college Classical Mechanics is a required course for a physics major, whereas General Physics is required for the Earth Science major. There is an option at my school to take General Physics instead of Classical Mechanics and still fulfill a requirement for the physics major, although it says that that is much less desirable. So here is my question:
    Should I forgo Classical Mechanics altogether and just take General Physics? Or should I take General Physics and Classical Mechanics? I really feel like I'd be missing out if I didn't take classical Mechanics, but its just so convenient to kill 2 birds with one stone by just taking General Physics. Any advice? (My career goals are in aerospace and planetary science)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2014 #2

    micromass

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    Can you list the course contents of classical mechanics and general physics?

    That said, it's hard to imagine a physics major who didn't take classical mechanics...
     
  4. May 31, 2014 #3
    General Physics goes into detail with everything, mechanics, relativity, electromagnetism, etc. while classical mechanics focuses solely on mechanics.
     
  5. May 31, 2014 #4
    And I know, thats why I'm worried about not taking it. Would it be too much to do both do you think?
     
  6. May 31, 2014 #5

    George Jones

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    Isn't general physics a prerequisite for classical mechanics?
     
  7. May 31, 2014 #6
    No, or at least not at my school.
     
  8. May 31, 2014 #7

    jtbell

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    There are (at least) two different kinds of courses that could be called "Classical Mechanics." One kind is the first half of a two-semester calculus-based intro physics sequence for physics and engineering majors, using a textbook like Halliday/Resnick. The other kind is an intermediate or advanced course that assumes you've already taken the intro course and goes further, using a textbook like Fowles, Symon or Marion.

    Your General Physics course sounds like it might be a non-calculus-based intro physics course.

    Can you post course descriptions for those courses?

    Is it possible that you might be able to use Classical Mechanics as a substitute for General Physics in the earth science major? Try asking the department chairperson about this, or whoever is "in charge." Even if it's not in the catalog, it may be possible to make such substitutions with permission from the department (and maybe from the Dean or Provost or whatever the school's "chief academic officer" is called).
     
  9. May 31, 2014 #8

    George Jones

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    In my experience, many schools have the same list of topics for both both algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics, making it difficult to tell which is which just from the list of topics. Heck, even authors often have two versions of of basically the sane text, one version for calculus-based and one for algebra-based.

    If have heard of the first semester of introductory physics being called "Mechanics", but I have never seen it called "Classical Mechanics".

    Even so, I suspect that you are right that at sydrnyc's school, one course is algebra-based intor physics, and the other is calculus-based into physics.
     
  10. Jun 1, 2014 #9

    jtbell

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    We could get a better idea by seeing the complete course descriptions, including prerequisites, along with the requirements for the major(s).

    Or the OP could talk to people in the physics and earth science departments at his/her school, who are familiar with the situation there.
     
  11. Jun 1, 2014 #10
    I am going to Johns Hopkins in the fall, in case anyone wants to look up the descriptions.
     
  12. Jun 1, 2014 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    Since it's too much of a bother for sydrnyc to do his own legwork, you can find the description of Classical Mechanics here. It uses Halliday and Resnick, so is a 1st year calculus-based class.

    And, right here, it says:

     
  13. Jun 1, 2014 #12
    Sorry about that, I didn't mean to come off as being lazy. Also you do need to know calculus for both the Classical Mechanics and General Physics classes.
     
  14. Jun 1, 2014 #13

    micromass

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    The course descriptions posted by Vanadium clearly answer that question.
     
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