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Courses Physics department faculty advisor said Modern Physics will be hardest course

  1. Jan 21, 2008 #1
    She said it's probably the hardest course I'll take in the physics program. Right now, I'm taking University Physics I with II right after. What's the best way I can prepare for the Modern Physics courses?

    PHYS 3315: Modern Physics I
    Cr. 3. (3-0). Prerequisites: PHYS 1301 and 1302, or PHYS 1322, and credit for or concurrent enrollment in MATH 3331. The fundamental concepts of quantum physics and relativity. Applications to atomic structure and spectra, black body radiation, solid state physics, and nuclei.

    PHYS 3316: Modern Physics II
    Cr. 3. (3-0). Prerequisite: PHYS 3315. The fundamental concepts of quantum physics and relativity. Applications to atomic structure and spectra, black body radiation, solid state physics, and nuclei.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2008 #2
    Linear algebra and diffy equations. If you don't understand quantum mechanics, then you truly understand quantum mechanics.
  4. Jan 21, 2008 #3
    Yes, definitely linear algebra and differential equations. Everything you do in quantum mechanics is based on differential equations, and a lot of tricks you do to make it solvable use linear algebra.

    The relativity stuff I had in my courses was all algebra, but really kicked my butt conceptually. Don't know what yours will be like, though.
  5. Jan 21, 2008 #4
    What's the textbook being used? If it's a typical "modern physics" course (which is what I read from the description) than it will be a book like Krane, Tipler, or Beiser. If that's the case, then 1st year calculus and physics is sufficient. Also if it is a course like I'm describing I would question your adviser's statement that this will be your toughest course. Upper division QM, EM, etc will be a lot more mathematically sophisticated and challenging than these types of modern physics courses.

    The last two posters gave you the prereqs for junior/senior level courses like a QM or E&M course that uses a text like Griffiths, and not the type of course that I interpret it to be from the description.

    EDIT: I stand corrected by the post below.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2008
  6. Jan 21, 2008 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    A bit of Googling turned up your course catalog (University of Houston, right?), from which I could find out that Math 3331 is Differential Equations, which has both Calculus III and Linear Algebra as prerequisites. So if you have those, you should be OK.

    It looks like UH doesn't have a separate undergraduate Quantum Mechanics course, so these two Modern Physics courses must include what many other schools put in a separate QM course. Pretty heavy stuff... have fun! :cool:
  7. Jan 21, 2008 #6
    Heh. Yeah, sorry, I guess I should state the university. By the time I start Modern Physics, I'll have Linear Algebra and Differential Equations under my belt. From my experience, it seems the physics is easier once you have the mathematics fully under your belt. I forgot to mention she also said the Electrodynamics course would be among the most difficult as well.

    Modern Physics I, II, Electrodynamics, and an Advanced Laboratory course would be the most difficult. I asked about the rest of the program, and she said it wouldn't be too bad.
  8. Jan 22, 2008 #7
    It also depends on the person really.You may even find them very easy.As the others said,the math used in modern physics (quantum mech,relativity) is differential equations(partial also) and some linear algebra and geometry.Electrodynamics uses alot of vector analysis.
  9. Jan 23, 2008 #8
    I don't mean to presume too much here, however, generally the modern physics class you take is just an intro to the upper level physics classes like Classical Mechanics, Thermal Physics and Quantum Mechanics.

    I'm sure all schools are different in this aspect, but the modern physics class I took was similar to what unit circle described.
    calc 1 and 2 should be sufficient, and maybe having diff eq will help. You will study the Schrodinger equation, which is second order DE, however the solutions you will have to do won't be too tough. There are not many simple solutions to the DE so they don't usually ask you to do any but the basic ones because the harder solutions are just too messy to ask you to work out on a test, that waits until you have a formal Quantum Mech class.

    Your university may be different, but I
    ve never ehard of a modern physics class being the toughest offered, I would think the higher level quantum classes or an advanced EM class would be harder.
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