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Is it really necessary for an Experimental Physicist to learn General Relativity?

  1. Sep 12, 2012 #1
    Hi, I am in my 3rd year and have General Relativity as one of my options.

    I'm kind of feeling the peer pressure of selecting General Relativity, but putting all the hype aside, is it really necessary to learn General Relativity for an Experimental Physicist?

    I have to say, maths isn't really one of my strong points, but I hear tensor calculus is quite different to what one is used to in normal physics based maths?

    Will tensor calculus do me any good outside General Relativity/research/or even in the workplace?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2012 #2


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    Unless you intend to do experiments in general relativity there is no need to take it.
    Note that this is not restricted to experimentalists. Also in >99% of the theoretical work done, gravity is not handled at all, or at the level of "F = m * g".
  4. Sep 12, 2012 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    You didn't say what your other options are, so I can't say if a general relativity course is the best option for you. Education is about broadening your intellect- the mathematical and conceptual underpinnings of general relativity can also be applied to continuum mechanics, for example.
  5. Sep 12, 2012 #4
    Hi, The other options clashing with General Relativity are JAVA and Physics of the Earth.

    If I don't choose GR, just wondering which of the two modules would be more worth it in the long term as I'm still undecided in what I want to do after I graduate.
  6. Sep 12, 2012 #5
    Both of the other classes would be easier and physics of the earth sounds alot more interesting.
  7. Sep 12, 2012 #6
    Sure, you obviously won't be directly applying general relativity to most experiments. That being said, taking a class that possess that level of difficulty will simply make you smarter and broaden your intellecual capacity. Which other classes can you take?
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