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Creativity in Physics Problems

  1. Jan 19, 2004 #1
    I feel like I am just plugging into equations when I solve physics problems and I dont know how to be creative in my solution methods. Does anyone have any suggestions to help me improve my problem solving? I am a going to be a first year grad student soon and I didnt do that well in my JD Jackson ElectroMag. class. Most problems in the book I didnt know how to get started on.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2004 #2
    Have you considered a Quantum Leap Into another field?

    Sorry if I [b(] your feelings, could not resist it!

    It can be a testing time when you suddenly feel the motovation becomes just Mechanical. A good philosophical overview can sometimes inject some needed creational motovation, I reccomend books by D Z Albert:http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/ALBTIM.html


    and hope this gets you into the spirit of things.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2004
  4. Jan 19, 2004 #3
  5. Nov 7, 2008 #4
    Well my opinion is that u lack some mathematics there m8.My opinion in Jackson's book is that it sucks big time :) No physics in it just mathematical methods which apply in electromagnetic problems(which can be complicated only through mathematics). I think is better to read Griffith for understanding physics and Jackson-Arfken for mathematical details.(Arfken even better i think). Many will say Griffith is low level book etc. Low level in mathematics yes, but not in physics. That is because he tries to teach physics not math...If someone wanted to learn how to solve differential equations through the use of green functions could buy a book about that subject. All physics in jackson book ends at equation 1.44. Then starts the math hell...
  6. Nov 8, 2008 #5


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    Jackson's book is well respected (by most, including myself), but I agree that Griffith's Introduction to Electrodynamics is a far better teaching tool in regards to the physics of E&M.

    The mathematical Formalisms are essentially all taken care of in the 1st chapter, and once one has worked through those problems, the rest of the text clearly explains the physics of classical electrodynamics with problems and examples that gradually increase in difficulty. If you want to brush up on your E&M (and have the time), I recommend using that text as a guide. Learning Green's functions and how to apply them to problems is much easier once you fully understand the physics behind the problems.
  7. Nov 9, 2008 #6


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    Before starting a problem, think about it for about one minute.
    Are there any symmetries that will simplify it?
    Is it like another problem you have solved or that is done in the text?
    Is there a simple physical principle that will simplify the calculation (eg. Gauss)?
    Then if it's in Jackson, you''ll still have to plow through a lot of algebra, so don't panic.
    A graduate text that is between Griffiths and Jackson is "Classical Electromagnetism"
    by Franklin.
  8. Nov 11, 2008 #7
    can someone tell me what the hell the point of problems like that is
  9. Nov 11, 2008 #8


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    This might come off as being a total left-field approach... but then, that's what I'm noted for.
    I'd seriously recommend checking out Rube Goldberg cartoons and playing 'The Incredible Machine' on your computer.
    They're both quite childish, and yet quite intricately thought-provoking. It's not a purely scientific approach, but it can definitely make you think in productive ways.
  10. Nov 11, 2008 #9


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    They have no point and should not be in a textbook, but profs still assign those problems.
    It's sort of like fraternity hazing. The prof had to suffer, why shouldn't his students.
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