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Physics Issues

  1. May 5, 2007 #1
    Hey guys I seem to be in a bit of a predicament and I’m wondering if you can give me some advice. I’m currently in an intro-calculus based physics course (E&M). I still need to take the mechanics portion of the class during the upcoming fall semester. The problem is that the professor at my university teaching this class really sucks. For example, he totally skipped the Gauss’s Law and Maxwell Equations chapters. In fact, we never use any calculus in the class at all. He never derives anything and most of his lectures are spent on topics only vaguely related to the chapter (3 days on electron spin for magnetism spdf).

    I had a very good physics professor in high school, but I feel like so far in my university class I haven’t reinforced much of anything I learned in high school. I do a bunch of problems in my book and usually can get them, but I’m worried that once I transfer to a (hopefully) better university that I’m going to be behind because of the lack of rigor and the complete ignoring of calculus problems. I intend to watch all of the MIT E&M lectures by Prof. Lewin during the summer, to hopefully increase my understanding.

    Anyway, my question is should I continue and take the first semester of this physics class, or should I wait until I can hopefully get a better professor? Will I be behind because of the ignoring of the calculus-based problems? Am I expecting too much or is this the way it is at most universities? (I plan on majoring in EE)

    I would definitely wait until I get to a different university, but it would be significantly cheaper to take it where I am right now...
    Last edited: May 5, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2007 #2
    Is this professor's refusal to cover calculus-based calculations your only major problem with him? When I took calculus-based physics 1 (with a really good professor), I did about three homework problems involving calculus the entire semester, and I never had an exam problem that required calculus. I took the same professor second semester, and he covered a lot of E&M problems involving calculus. My point is that freshman mechanics doesn't really require that much calculus. So if this professor is otherwise a good teacher (i.e. he explains material well, grades well, etc.), then it wouldn't hurt to take him for freshman mechanics.

    On a sidenote, it is a bit worrisome that you didn't cover any calculus-based E&M problems. This is actually a very important issue in the study of E&M. Electromagnetic theory can't be done without calculus, so if you ever take an advanced E&M course, you might be in trouble. But that's unrelated to your mechanics question...
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