Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Needing Tips for Electromagnetic Fields Class

  1. Oct 23, 2012 #1
    Just posting to ask if anyone has any tips to give for a student in a Junior level Electromagnetic fields class.

    We usually get about 10-20 problems/week and I manage to only get 6-7 of them done every time. Also, though I generally do well with it, I'm struggling to find the energy to read through the book since I can't seem to separate what really matters from what's just extended rambling.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2012 #2
    This is the hardest class, what do you expect? You just need to put in a lot of hours. I studied 3 separate books at three different times, working through a lot of the problems each time and finally get the feel of it.( don't even dare to say I understand it). This is the gateway to microwave and antennas. It's not for the weak of heart.

    Just be thankful that you are only slow and not lost!!! Just burn your midnight oil. I might be slow, I used Cheng and Griffiths. If I get through 3 problems a day ( not just work a little and peak at the solution manual!!!) with the formulas and equations, it's a good day. Not to discourage you more, being able to solve problems and understanding is two different thing. Solving the problem don't imply you understand at all. One of the chief scientist in Lockheed told me, you want to understand EM, read 15 times!!!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  4. Oct 23, 2012 #3
    welcome to hell! EM is no joke.
    Most likely the following readings will get out of trouble if you have the time to read them through:
    -A student's guide to maxwell's equations. (Daniel fleisch)
    -Electricity and Magnetism Berkeley Physics course, Vol 2. (Purcell)

    introductory books and easy to digest.After these 2 move to any advanced book.
  5. Oct 23, 2012 #4
    I have a lot of engineering EM books, from the easiest one by Ulaby ( good one) to more difficult ones like Cheng, Hyatt. None really explain EM that well. I believe the reason is they concentrate on engineering and very light on physics. This is one topic that there is no easy way to explain it. No books that I have really explain why, it is particularly bad when those engineering books try to cut short on the fundamental part because it is not as useful for EE. As the result, I really don't feel I understand the topic even after studying Ulaby from front to back, all except one chapter on wave guide in Cheng. I work through all the problems that the solution manual provided.........which is a lot.

    Finally I got Griffiths "Intro to Electrodynamics" that is for Physics major. It is a difficult book, but it concentrates on the fundamentals........in a difficult way!!! Then I start to feel a light bulb light up. It is a very difficult book particular in the later chapters like 10 and 11 on retarded potentials etc. It is like studying an advanced course of vector calculus. But that's what it takes to move a step beyond for me.

    Correct me if I am wrong, I don't think there is a simple explanation for EM. I believe to the best of my knowledge, Maxwell's equation is an observation, formulas were created around the observation. In fact, the original Maxwell's equations are a little different, the multi variable calculus was created partly to support the Maxwell's observation.


    It seems like to me that it can only be explained by language of vector calculus. If there is an easy way to study EM, I love to know also. I even stopped after finishing Cheng, spent 8 months studying partial differential equation and Green's function before going onto Griffiths.

    No, when the OP said he is just slow, not stuck, he is way ahead in my book!!!! I am old and my memory is failing, but I spent almost 3 hard years studying this on on my own!!!! I study two to three hours a day 5 to 6 days a week. Then I went to the Classical Physics here to ask question. I was studying antenna theory last year before I was side tracked into music electronics. I still plan to conquer "Classical Electrodynamics" By J D Jackson...........The Mt. Everest of EM!!!.........If I live long enough.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook