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Electricity & Magnetism + Quantum Mechanics?

  1. Dec 31, 2012 #1
    Electricity & Magnetism, Thermo + Quantum Mechanics?

    Hi! I've recently completed my first semester of college and it's offered me some insights. For example.... the world is three-dimensional and, as such, multidimensional calculus exists!

    I managed to somehow survive Honors Mechanics but it made me realize something: I don't know jack about Physics or Math. Anywho, right now I really want to tackle on EM (Purcell), Thermo (Giancoli or Resnick-Halliday-Krane) & QM (Griffiths). From the looks of it, it seems like EM requires Multi, Lin Alg & Diff EQs. If anyone would like to add onto the list, please do.

    As for QM & Thermo, I have the following questions:
    • What Physics/Math background should I build up before learning QM?
    • For Thermo?
    • Is it appropriate to do EM & QM simultaneously?
    • Can the Oxtoby's Principle of Modern Chemistry enrich the study of QM and/or Thermo, or would it simply be redundant?

    My background:
    • Honors Mechanics + Waves. (Kleppner & Kolenkow + AP French) We didn't get to covering Non-Inertial Frames, Relativity or Fluid Dynamics and the treatment of Waves was really poor.
    • Multivariable Calculus (Stewart). It was a mellow introduction (which isn't bad given how difficult it was for me to grapple with Physics that semester...) but certainly not rigorous. My professor recommended Spivak.
    • Some basic Lin. Algebra (computational, not theoretical) but I don't have much basis in Diff EQs beyond a really hazy recollection of high school AP Calc curriculum.

    Next semester, I'll be taking Diff EQs (Nagle-Snaff-Snider) & Lin Alg (Lay). I'll probably supplement Lin Alg with Axler's Linear Algebra, Done Right. Any critiques or suggestions?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 31, 2012 #2
    The math background you need depends on your goals. For Griffiths, you need to know multivariable calculus and some differential equation techniques. Linear algebra would be fantastic but it's not a strict pre req for starting Griffiths.

    Quantum chemistry would enrich your study of quantum mechanics. Keep in mind though, oxtoby is an honors gen chem text, not a quantum chemistry text. Quantum chemistry should be learned after one has a good grasp of quantum mechanics. For your background though, Oxtoby probably has a lot to offer though in terms of quantum, but mainly for thermodynamics.
  4. Dec 31, 2012 #3
    My professor tells me that Linear Algebra is the only formal mathematical pre-requisite necessary for QM
  5. Dec 31, 2012 #4
    Thank you for the swift reply! I'm well aware Oxtoby is an Honors Gen Chem text and I wanted to see if I can somehow incorporate it into my studies since I've spent last semester lamenting over having taking Gen Chem rather than Honors Gen Chem.

    Also, what exactly do you mean by this statement? I forgot to mention I'll also be learning Thermo from either Giancoli or RHK.

  6. Dec 31, 2012 #5


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  7. Dec 31, 2012 #6


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    Re: Electricity & Magnetism, Thermo + Quantum Mechanics?

    Purcell doesn't really require any of those subjects as prerequisites. Purcell introduces the necessary vector calculus as he goes along. But of course a more extensive math background always makes things easier.
  8. Dec 31, 2012 #7
    This is true as one gets higher in QM and switches to more formalism.

    Oxtoby has some good chapters on thermodynamics. They're at about the same level as an into physics book, but I think a bit better.
  9. Dec 31, 2012 #8
    Re: Electricity & Magnetism, Thermo + Quantum Mechanics?

    Thank you! I think I might delve into Tipler & Llewellyn before Griffiths and focus on learning Linear Algebra with Axler.
  10. Jan 1, 2013 #9
    Griffiths QM book is easy, you could start with that and not ever had taken a modern physics course.
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