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Independent Pursuit of Physics

  1. Nov 3, 2009 #1
    I'm currently in the first year of my undergrad, and want to pursue Physics independently of the main Physics course.

    So I need to know what topics, AND IN WHAT ORDER, do I need to study to get a systematic knowledge of up to, say, Quantum Electrodynamics. (Undoubtedly this will take some time and I don't want to rush through it just for the sake of it.)

    As of now I have a good grasp of calculus-based classical mechanics (right now we're studying classical mechanics based on the least action principle using Lagrangians/Hamiltonians, etc.), BASIC knowledge of electromagnetism (EXCLUDING the formation and traveling of electromagnetic waves), and BASIC knowlegde of the special theory of relativity involving very elementary mathematical techniques (that is, the usual concepts of time dilation, length contraction, simultaneity, etc.).
    I do not yet know how special relativity arises from electromagnetism, or how to treat laws of electromagnetism taking special relativity into consideration.

    To reiterate, I want to know in what order should I cover various areas in Physics (as in Classical Mechanics, then Electromagnetism, then Sp Relativity, and so on...) to have a grasp of all topics up to QED.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2009 #2


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    Cover them at the same time. There is no right or wrong order. Afraid you will fail?

    Are you one of those that reads the complete guide to winning a video game before you play it?
  4. Nov 3, 2009 #3
    Point taken, but this is different. It's just that before starting any topic, I'd want to be familiar with the pre-requites. But it's exactly those prerequisites that are difficult to spot, even on the net.
    Not that I intend to take shortcuts, certainly I'll get to know as I progress through the Physics course, but this is the kind of info I need to get a headstart on my own ahead of all that...

    Edit : BTW I hate walkthroughs.
  5. Nov 3, 2009 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Some of them can be done in parallel, some are better done in sequence. Does your university publish a list of courses that includes the required or recommended prerequisites for each one?
  6. Nov 3, 2009 #5
    Is there a physics minor you can do? Why not go for the major?
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