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Homework Help: Electricity & Magnetism Honors Project Ideas?

  1. Aug 24, 2012 #1
    I am going into my fall semester of E&M and am trying to decide upon a topic to write about for an honors project. I have not taken an E&M course yet so it is difficult for me to really find which topics are too advanced scientifically or mathematically at this point.

    So far I have taken a classical mechanics course and have a calculus 2 background; I will be taking multivariable/vector calculus in the fall along with it although it is not required of the course itself.

    Last semester i wrote a paper on Special Relativity so I was thinking of a possible topic as being Einstein's work which lead him to his discoveries of Relativity. Another topic I am considering is "what is static electricity" which I found was actually a large current research area according to a current magazine I read; the article spoke about how scientists currently only understand how static electricity effects matter but not exactly what it is or how its created (if I am not mistaken)

    My main issue is that I do not know if these topics are too advanced considering my current mathematical background (again, up calculus 2 and classical mechanics as well as starting vector calculus concurrently in the fall). Do you suggest that these topics will be okay given my background or do you suggest something else?

    Also, what I think would be interesting and what I would most like to discover is E&M's implications in gravity although I am not sure how advanced mathematically the topic would be.
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2012 #2
    I don't know how multivariable and vector calc is not a prereq for your E&M course.
    If this is your first E&M I wouldn't do it on relativity since relativity is introduced as part of electrodynamics (2nd semester of E&M) and usually the first course if electrostatics.

    I guess I don't know what kind of depth you are going into but I don't see a reason why you couldn't put something reasonable together for static electricity.

    Concerning E&Ms effect on gravity, as far as I know there haven't been any theories that unify the two. I was under the impression that there is no known exchange mechanism between the two. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong because obviously light is red shifted.)
  4. Aug 25, 2012 #3
    The thing is I go to Penn State University so engineering and physics majors generally take an E&M course during the third semester; at this point the math that has been completed is organized as: semester 1 - calculus 1, semester 2 - calculus 2, semester 3 - vector calculus.

    Therefore semester 3 falls under having a complete background of calculus 2 alone with a concurrent vector calculus, although vector calc is not in the course as I have stated.

    Since you are not sure on what depth we are going into, here is a link that describes the course: http://bulletins.psu.edu/undergrad/courses/P/PHYS/212/199900FA

    Thanks, any advice will be helpful.
  5. Aug 25, 2012 #4
    Also for clarification, a more advanced E&M course is generally taken the junior year which does require the vector calc
  6. Aug 25, 2012 #5
    Furthermore, regarding a topic concerning electromagnetism and relativity, I am aware that the two are not yet unified as a fundamental force but what my understanding was that relativity required some knowledge of E&M if I am not mistaken which is what I wanted to concentrate on, E&M's applications in relativity -if that makes sense.

    I was able to get away with writing a 10 page introductory paper on Relativity last semester during mechanics so I was wondering if that is possible to do from an E&M perspective.
  7. Aug 25, 2012 #6
    You could definitely write a paper on the topic and it is quite interesting as well as fitting together quite beautifully. You may not completely understand it but you would probably learn a lot more than this class requires but it may make your next E&M course more manageable.

    It's a great topic and it sounds like you want to do it so I say go for it.
  8. Aug 26, 2012 #7
    Thanks for your input, anyone else have any suggestions?
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