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Hardest Physics Professor/Teacher you had and why?

  1. Jan 1, 2012 #1
    The title is self explanatory. When I was in high school in Senior Year I took AP physics C. Over the summer I self studied AP physics C and was easily able to do any problem on the AP exam. So naturally I felt confident Physics C would be easy. Physics B which I took last year I found it to be easy once I got used to it. But I was very wrong. My physics teacher was an immigrant and grew up in a country where the academic standards were very high. When we started out Kinematics the first problem he gave us a complicated derivation problem which was from an honors physics Cambridge exam. Only a few students knew where to began and only our valedictorian was able to solve it. I was very demoralized. I thought once he realized that not everyone in the class is at that level he would make the work easier. In reality I was somewhat right. When even our valedictorian had trouble doing the problems he did give more AP oriented problems. The easier problems he gave us came from Cal tech and MIT while the harder ones came from international universities and there honors classes. The hardest were the problems he from the the Indian version of MIT. He also used a lot of multivariable calculus in the class even though only a few students were actively taking multi and most just started AP calc BC. In the end I barely passed. Well that's my story.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2012 #2
    High school calculus teacher. He gave ungodly difficult calculus exams, many times with averages in the low 20s. I believe over 90% of his students, however, ended up scoring 5s on the AP exams. No wonder he won awards from the White House for excellence in mathematics education.

    Edit- didn't see the physics only label.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
  4. Jan 1, 2012 #3


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    my most difficult teacher was my electrodynamics teacher; two semesters. Because he was a lemon; he sucked at lecturing, made a lot of mistakes on the board, and went off on five BS tangents trying to answers questions from students.
  5. Jan 1, 2012 #4
    Electromagnetism, mostly because getting a straight answer out of her was nigh impossible. Actually, getting any answer out of her was difficult enough. I would ask for a clarification of a test question, and the response was ''do part a, then part b, then part c''. Cool!
  6. Jan 2, 2012 #5
    I suppose it depends on how you define hard. My E&M professor was a terrific teacher and a fair grader, but MAN he gave long homework assignments. It was about 14 hours a week for the good students, and that's not counting any time spent studying past material or reading ahead.

    I got my lowest grade in my quantum mechanics class, but I don't necessarily think that's because the professor was the hardest. The exams only had 3 questions each, and there were 3 exams. If two of those 9 questions were on a different topic that we had also covered (and were never tested on), I think I would have gotten an A in the class. I got a 100% on my second exam, but Cs on the other two exams because one question on each of those exams just stumped me. I just studied improperly. So, again, can't blame the professor for that one.

    On balance, I'd say my E&M professor was the hardest, although he is also one of my favorites.
  7. Jan 2, 2012 #6

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    #1: E&M. The instructor relished in bizarre homework & tests. An average of 50 meant the test was far too easy. It's been 30 years, and I still remember one of his nightmare problems: "An electrician has mistakenly wired a <length forgotten> circular transmission line with a Q of <forgotten> in the shape of a Möbius strip. Describe the transients on this line."

    #2: Statistical physics, for which we had to do an independent study. The instructor simply told me to investigate xn+1=rxn(1-xn). This was back in 1977. I didn't think to look for the 1976 Nature article entitled "Simple mathematical models with very complicated dynamics".

    #3: Multi-criteria decision making. Question #4 on the take-home final: "Write your own MCDM problem and solve it. Your problem and solution must demonstrate <everything covered in the class>."
  8. Jan 2, 2012 #7
    I had a Russian DSP prof.
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