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Is my Fall Schedule too Difficult?

  1. Aug 10, 2015 #1
    I'll be starting my junior year this coming fall, and I want to know what people think about my intended schedule.

    Quantum Mechanics I (3 cr.)
    Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism (3 cr.)
    Wave Motion and Optics Lab with Writing (4 cr.)
    Numerical Mathematical Analysis (3 cr.)
    Exploration Geophysics (3 cr.)

    I'm a bit worried it will be too tough. Also, I have not yet taken Classical Mechanics, and so I am worried that I will not be prepared for QM1. My professors have advised me to take QM1 though, and so I have been preparing a little bit by reading up on Lagrangian stuff.

    Will this be too tough of a schedule, especially without having taken Classical Mechanics? I could simply substitute QM1 with Computation Methods in Physics, which will be easier, and then I can take QM1 next fall. Also, does anyone know of any advantages to taking QM1 and QM2 junior year instead of senior year?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2015 #2
    I took QM1 before taking intermediate classical mechanics (I just had the introductory mechanics course). Never did that hinder me, so I think you'll be fine on that front. That being said, I took a similar load last fall, and I can promise you that it will be hell on Earth. Are you in a rush to complete your degree? If not, I would say it would be wise to shave off at least one class, or shave one off and replace another with an elective or something. It wasn't a discipline problem, either. There were some days that, even working non-stop, I simply could not finish my homework on time. If you'd like specifics with respect to my schedule/grades/what ever, just let me know.
  4. Aug 10, 2015 #3


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    It is a little hard to say if this is too much. It looks like you are taking 4 classes and a lab. That does not seem excessive.

    When you look at your school's course catalog, how many credits do they require for your junior year? You seem to be taking 12 class credits and 4 lab credits, right? How does that compare to what you need for your year? If it is in line with what you need then it seems ok.

    Whether, and how much, you need Lagrangians for QM1 is also difficult to say. Can you get the text and snoop through it to find out? Maybe you only need to know the very simplest parts of Lagrangian formulation, and you can "swat" that in the first week or so.
  5. Aug 10, 2015 #4
    it's "swot" not "swat" xD

    Anyway you can teach a basic QM course without need of analytical dynamics, they just tend to say "and this is the Hamiltonian, which takes this form. You'll find out why later". I was specifically advised as an EE to not take the analytical dynamics course at my uni by the director of UG education just because anything I do with QM will be applied enough I don't need to know the details of the mathematical formulation (I disagree but what can you do :P ).

    Obviously as a physicist you should at some point do analytical dynamics in some form, but unless it's listed as a specific prerequisite (and since the profs have advised you to take it I assume it isn't) you probably won't need anything that isn't developed in the course.

    More to the point of your question, it's hard to tell if you have too much since we don't have any indication of what a normal semester credit load is at your university. Assuming these are roughly the same as the standard credit size at my uni you'll probably be fine if the labs aren't too time consuming.

    Why are you taking exploration geophysics? Seems kind of random.
  6. Aug 11, 2015 #5
    For the QM class, Intermediate Classical Mechanics is a prerequisite. Its my research advisors that are the ones telling me to go ahead and just QM. I talked to the professor of QM this coming fall and he will allow me to take his class without the mechanics class, but he said it will be more difficult. I really just want to know if there are any advantages to taking QM early; if there aren't then there really is no point to taking it and possibly struggling. Also, the lab should be very time consuming, so that could be an issue as well.

    Also, I have become very interested in geophysics recently and think that is the field I want to go into for graduate school, hence the Exploration Geophysics class.
  7. Aug 11, 2015 #6
    Your proposed schedule is a little ambitious. No one has mentioned taking inter. E/M as a prerequisite for QM. In my opinion this is more important than mechanics.

    Since Geophysics is becoming interesting you might delay QM in favor another geology/geophysics course which will be of great value as opposed to QM which does not seem to be important in Geophysics. I do not know the content of "Exploration Geology" but it sounds like it might presuppose more basic knowledge of geology first. Have you checked this?
  8. Aug 11, 2015 #7
    I have checked with the professor as well as other students who have taken it, and the exploration geophysics class will be manageable without much geology knowledge.

    However, your suggestion about taking another geology class instead of QM is a pretty good idea, I might just do that.
  9. Aug 11, 2015 #8
    Taking QM earlier rather than later is a good idea if you plan on doing further physics work, so you can take upper division QM and condensed matter/solid state or statistical mechanics courses that would require it as a prerequisite. If you're planning on going into geophys there's not really any reason to take it at all since it's completely irrelevant.

    Generally speaking through if you have a solid background in maths and just some basic physics (e.g. first year level mechanics/EM and some notions of quantization, blackbody radiation and so on for context) then you would probably be fine in QM. If you've got differential equations, vector calculus, linear algebra/matrix algebra (although a more formal introduction ala linear algebra is better), complex numbers and/or variables and some exposure to partial differential equations (specifically the wave equation) you probably have more than enough to cope with it.

    But yeah if you're interested in geophys taking a geology class would be a better idea. You personally would probably find it more interesting as well.
  10. Aug 12, 2015 #9
    As someone who's taken 6 courses plus 2 labs in a single semester before, your course load is the perfect balance between being kept busy and having time to study and practice for each course. Also, intro to quantum mechanics really doesn't have high requirements to understand the material at a basic level; there are higher level QM courses that WILL require a much more in-depth understanding, but by the time you get to them you'll already have taken every course needed to be prepared. :)
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