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Physics II in comparison with Physics I?

  1. Oct 20, 2011 #1
    Alright here is my story: I took highschool physics and loved it, went to college and took a class that is basically an algebra based physics class and a very light introductory just because I couldn't wait to get my hands on physics. When I was able to take Calculus based physics I did-- but now I'M bored! Everything feels very boring at the moment, it almost makes me double-think my physics career. On the other hand I love calculus and mathematics. But that is besides the point, my question is:

    Do things get more interesting in physics II and III? It feels like a long way till quantum mechanics from here.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2011 #2
    Things will get more and more mathematically technical and difficult, to the point beyond physical comprehension. In some of my upper level courses, we were given as much time as we needed on tests. We could sit in the room until our brains were fried and still not have the answer.

    So yes they do. when you go over basic electricity in your calc based physics class you will start using vector calculus and integrating fields over regions. Trust me, physics will put all of your mathematical knowledge to the test, and the best part is that it represents things in the real world.
  4. Oct 21, 2011 #3
    I am not a physics major but I can tell you there is a strong conceptual difference between PHY I and PHY II. In my case they each tickled a different part of the brain.
    The first one is very easy to grasp conceptually because you can connect it to everyday things like how is that building standing, or how is that satellite turning around the earth? those are easy concepts to grasp because you can "see" mechanics at work.
    Whereas phys II will be more like: What happens when I turn on my computer monitor? how about the radio and the amplifier in my car? what is really happening inside those things?

    Soon you will be visualizing strings in the air so take your time to build a good foundation. JP
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
  5. Oct 22, 2011 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    It depends on what topics those courses cover at your school.

    In my case, the second semester was when I really got "turned on" to physics, by studying Maxwell's Equations (electricity and magnetism).

    I didn't have a "Physics III." After the two-semester "general physics" sequence we had an "Introduction to Modern Physics" which included basic stuff on quantum mechanics (Schrödinger equation, particle in a box, etc.). Your Physics III probably covers that territory, but look in your course catalog.
  6. Oct 22, 2011 #5
    One question worth considering is what is boring you about these courses. Is it because you're calculating how fast a block slides down an inclined plane and this seems lame compared to what (you think) quantum mechanics is? Or is it the methods and way the material is presented that is boring you? Or is it just not challenging you?

    You absolutely must know the basics. Introductory physics courses give you a glimpse into how the everyday world works, as well as how physicists think about solving problems. They also have the advantage of giving you more time to understand the concepts of what you're discussing; like others have said, once you plunge into intermediate mechanics, quantum mechanics, and E&M, things will be so heavily mathematical that it's easy to lose the physics, so to say.

    If you're expecting your quantum mechanics class to be something along the lines of everyone sitting around and discussing the multi-worlds interpretation, I think you'll be sorely disappointed.

    I wasn't a huge fan of Physics I (with the exception of gravitation.) Physics II was very interesting, in my opinion. Intermediate mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum I were my favorite subjects I studied. In some sense, then, how you feel about physics I is not reflective of how you will feel about the more advanced topics.

    If you're looking for more of a challenge in your mechanics course, you can find some problems that are real bastards. Maybe attempt those and see if you're more interested.

    Yeah, at UTAustin, Physics III was a course on 'waves and oscillations.' It was mainly a course in solving hard differential equations. Then you took Modern Physics, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    Either way, I think it may be worth at least sticking around for modern physics. Though the course isn't extremely thorough, you at least get a glimpse into what real(ish) quantum mechanics and special relativity are.
  7. Oct 23, 2011 #6
    From my perspective: Physics I problems were Calc I/II problems with a little more of the science background. Maybe this is why you're a little bored? I can't really think of any Physics II or III problems that were covered specifically in Calculus or DiffEq.

    I find myself much more challenged with Physics II for this reason.

    (This is presuming that the courses introduce the following topics: Physics I = Mechanics, Physics II = E&M, Physics III = Modern/QM)
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