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person123

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In summary, the conversation discusses the consideration of a physics minor for an incoming sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering. The minor does not have any math requirements, while the major in Physics requires advanced math courses. The courses for the minor include modern physics, mechanics, thermodynamics, waves and optics, and an electrical lab. The student is unsure about adding more math courses, but is interested in understanding the physics behind natural phenomena and potentially applying it in their career. The conversation also mentions the importance of linear algebra for understanding quantum mechanics. It is suggested to speak with an advisor and review the pre-requisites for the physics courses before making a decision.

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person123

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Vanadium 50

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What did your academic advisor say?

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person123

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MidgetDwarf

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person123 said:

Depends on the level that the physics courses are taught at. I am a math major, minoring in physics. Typically, as math, physics, engineering major, you have to take the introductory physics courses. The introductory physics courses require Analytical Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus 1 and 2. What I mean by Calculus 1 and 2, starting with limits, derivatives, then to integration techniques. Multivariable calculus will help with particular topics such as Magnetism to name a few in Intro EM.My intro mechanics course was not heavily calculus based. Just basic derivatives and integration. But it helps to understand intuitively what is going on. However, I felt that I did not need to take a class at this point in Multivariable Calculus to understand what was going on in .

However, if the intro courses are at the level of KK and Purcell, then yes heavy calculus is implied as a requirement. But these are usually honors courses at the top universities in the US.

Now for the Analysis and Complex Analysis. I am believing it is just the application of the results found a typical introductory course. Things like working on the complex plane (Complex Unit Circle in particular), modular arithmetic, and further integration techniques. I think you would be ok on the math side. However, I would try to squeeze in a Linear Algebra course and a Ordinary Differential Course. Linear Algebra would help with EM and Relativity both special and general. And ODE appear everywhere in physics courses.

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person123

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I think my main fear might be mechanics because I've heard about calculus of variations being used (not in my university, just in general), and I know essentially nothing about that.

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MidgetDwarf

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The math taken by a mathematics major is different than that of a physics major.

Yes, linear algebra is a must. I would say even an upper division linear algebra. To better understand QM. However, what you know is currently enough to complete the basic intro physics courses.

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berkeman

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Can you say a bit about why you would like that combination? I can see how a Physics minor would be very helpful for some EE career tracks, but I wouldn't have thought that about Civil Engineering. Do you have some career tracks in mind where that combination would be helpful? Or are you wanting to minor in Physics mainly because you really enjoy Physics?person123 said:I'm an incoming sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering, and I'm considering a physics minor.

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person123

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Part of it is definitely just because I like physics. I know that a lot of the stuff I would be learning for a minor (especially modern physics) is not applicable, but I would definitely want to learn more about it.

I do think I might be able to apply a minor a bit though, especially if I were to go into research. What I would really love to do would be to try to understand the physics behind things we see in nature more deeply -- in particular, things related to coastal and hydraulics, things like sediment transport, coastal erosion, natural disasters.

What I would love to do is use some of that knowledge to do something practical (e.g. improve code, help us figure out how to design structures better). Even though I wouldn't be using a lot of the physics I would learn in a minor directly, I think some of it (maybe mechanics and waves) would be useful, and it also would help me think about these sort of problems.

I do understand getting into research might be hard and would probably require a PhD, but I think I would still be happy just getting some position in a company, where there may still be some interesting and technical challenges. In that case a minor probably wouldn't be as useful, but I would still be interested in learning more physics.

I do think I might be able to apply a minor a bit though, especially if I were to go into research. What I would really love to do would be to try to understand the physics behind things we see in nature more deeply -- in particular, things related to coastal and hydraulics, things like sediment transport, coastal erosion, natural disasters.

What I would love to do is use some of that knowledge to do something practical (e.g. improve code, help us figure out how to design structures better). Even though I wouldn't be using a lot of the physics I would learn in a minor directly, I think some of it (maybe mechanics and waves) would be useful, and it also would help me think about these sort of problems.

I do understand getting into research might be hard and would probably require a PhD, but I think I would still be happy just getting some position in a company, where there may still be some interesting and technical challenges. In that case a minor probably wouldn't be as useful, but I would still be interested in learning more physics.

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dRic2

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If that's what you really want to do then you don't need QM or special relativity or optics. I know you like them, but you can always pick up a book in your free time and selfstudy. If you are really interested in those topics then do a lot of advanced fluid mechanics/transport phenomena and thermodynamics. There is plenty of interesting physics there... It's just not QM or special relativity.person123 said:in particular, things related to coastal and hydraulics, things like sediment transport, coastal erosion, natural disasters.

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person123 said:Part of it is definitely just because I like physics.

Sounds like sufficient reason to me.

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person123

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dRic2 said:If that's what you really want to do then you don't need QM or special relativity or optics. I know you like them, but you can always pick up a book in your free time and selfstudy. If you are really interested in those topics then do a lot of advanced fluid mechanics/transport phenomena and thermodynamics. There is plenty of interesting physics there... It's just not QM or special relativity.

I'm trying to understand some (I think kind of basic) fluid mechanics -- Euler's and Navier Stoke's equations, flow through pipes and channels, some very basic principles of sediment transport, as well as a bunch of solid mechanics (Cauchy stress tensor, Mohr's circle, beam theory). I haven't really learned much thermodynamics beyond what was taught in intro physics, but I would want to learn more. I do feel like I'm progressing very slowly, but I do find the stuff very interesting.

I'm a bit afraid that I might narrow in on a field too quickly as I still can't really be sure what I want to do. But I imagine you're right that I would probably get plenty of physics anyway.

The recommended math courses for a physics minor include Calculus I, Calculus II, Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations. These courses provide a strong foundation in mathematical concepts that are essential for understanding and applying principles of physics.

Math is important for a physics minor because it helps to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for understanding and analyzing complex physical phenomena. Additionally, many principles and equations in physics are based on mathematical concepts, so a strong understanding of math is necessary for success in the field.

While a strong math background is helpful, it is not necessarily required to pursue a physics minor. However, it is important to have a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic, as the math courses required for a physics minor can be challenging.

Yes, you can certainly take additional math courses beyond the recommended ones for a physics minor. In fact, taking more advanced math courses, such as Differential Geometry or Complex Analysis, can provide a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and may be beneficial for certain areas of physics.

To prepare for the math courses required for a physics minor, it is important to have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry. It may also be helpful to review basic calculus concepts before starting the courses. Additionally, practicing problem-solving and critical thinking skills can help prepare you for the rigor of these courses.

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