1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is it reasonable to go straight from general physics to classical mechanics?

  1. Jul 14, 2009 #1
    I'm a biochemistry major with most of my requirements out of the way. Fall term my schedule will be: Physical chemistry, intro to real analysis (junior level). This is 8 credits, but to maintain full financial aid I need 12 credits. I recently found out that I am 12 credits away from a physics minor. The department only requires the first year general physics with lab and then 12 credits of upper division classes. To this end, I am thinking of completing the minor, but I have no interest in the 300 level modern physics and other classes and I would rather take the classical mechanics and electrodynamics classes. Is this reasonable? I've taken calculus through multivariable/vector and a first course in differential equations.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2009 #2
    You should do fine. So long as you did decent in your into calc classes, you shouldn't be behind any of the Physics majors in the Classical Mechanics class. Usually in between the intro mechanics and intro E&M class, the Physics majors will take a modern physics class (usually a hodge-podge of topics, only one that would be applicable to the mechanics class you're looking at is some extra go over of harmonic oscillators) and the maybe a intro quantum class (which would probably focus on more of a phenomenology of quantum physics than anything else). So you're not missing much in between.

    Like I said, if you Calculus is good, you should do fine.
  4. Jul 15, 2009 #3
    Personally I'm happy that I took sophomore quantum before junior mechanics, not because you need to know any quantum to do mechanics, but because it prepares you for the sort of mathematics that you're required to do in advanced undergrad physics courses. But hey, that's just me. As PiratePhysicist said, technically all you need to know is calculus and basic mechanics and E&M.

    Just wondering though, if you're majoring in biochemistry, wouldn't modern physics be slightly more interesting to you than classical mechanics. With all the stuff you learn about spectroscopy and diffraction, there's probably a bit more application to biochemistry. Just a thought...
  5. Jul 15, 2009 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Look in your college's course catalog (online or dead-tree version) and see what the prerequisites are for the classical mechanics course. If you've taken those courses, you should be OK.

    Here, some students take classical mechanics first, some take modern physics first, and some take them together.
  6. Jul 15, 2009 #5
    This is true, fortunately there are 3 chapters about spectroscopy in the physical chemistry course I'll be taking that covers molecular symmetry, their point groups, and the connection to vibrations and rotations. I just feel like taking mechanics and electrodynamics will help give me a solid foundation in my science career, and should I enter a biophysics graduate program might be helpful to come in with a strong background in classical physics.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook