Preparing for Electromagnetism

  • #26
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Oh wow! I should have specified then to avoid confusion; for electromagnetism I meant Calc based Physics II.

I know. The year long E and M course usually covers the same stuff as physics II (and a lot more), but with a lot more depth.
 
  • #27
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It can be like that in some ways, but in other ways, once you really understand it, you can see just how badly it was taught and how difficult they made it compared to how it ought to have been. Classical mechanics is great, now. I have a good intuitive understanding of it, and it just makes the class I took in undergrad just look like more and more of a joke. The more I understand classical mechanics, the funnier it gets. That's usually how it is. I always get the last laugh.

Of course, if it's taught well, you may never know how well it was taught if you never suffered through a bad version of it. It is mainly through bad teaching that you can appreciate that. So, I guess that's one advantage of bad teaching, if you can call it an advantage.




Thanks.




Grad school, pretty much. It's pretty tough. I don't mind it being hard, so much, except sometimes, I feel like the pace is too fast. But there have been times when the motivation was a little lacking. Some of this is probably due to some level of mathematical incompetence on the professor's part, but another factor is that sometimes the professor or textbook teaches as if they are teaching to people who already know the subject, negating the need for a lot of the motivation. When I started taking topics courses, though, everything went pretty well, again. Those have been great.

I'm taking ordinary differential equations this semester. It's been okay. Not perfect, but pretty decent, and much better than undergraduate differential equations. I'll be done with classes after that. I'm just finishing the take-home final, now. So, I'll be done with homework and being graded on stuff forever by next week. Pretty exciting prospect. Just thesis, and then I'm done with school, finally.

Good luck! I agree to everything you've said, but I'll send you a visitor message because the topic is getting derailed [wouldn't like an infraction.] =D
 
  • #28
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I'd say a conceptual understanding of line and surface integrals is good. You'll only evaluate very basic line integrals (in my experience it actually helped to study this on my own). Know what a gradient is: the lecturer will teach you how to take partial derivatives and tell you what a gradient is. Make sure you are good with single variable calculus and know what a derivative and integral mean.

I would use Paul's Online Notes under the Calculus III section for references during the course:

3-Dimensional Space
~~3-D Coordinate System

Partial Derivatives
~~Partial Derivatives
~~Interpretations of Partial Derivatives

Applications of Partial Derivatives
~~Gradient Vector

Line Integrals
~~Vector Fields
~~Line Integrals Part I

Surface Integrals
~~Surface Integrals

It's not too important in your Physics II course to understand these topics completely, but the topics I listed should be useful as reference if something seems fuzzy to you.
 
  • #29
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Actually, I think vector spaces might help in the long run (so that you can bring differential forms into the picture, among other things), but probably not for a first course.

I agree. I was a bit thrown off because Nano-Passion said "my second semester of physics in electromagnetism." I didn't think it was his first class ever in EM.

I would say that the idea of a vector space could help but in physics we rarely ever construct those things. The same can be said for Hilbert spaces in QM.

Nano-Passion: I would focus on an intuitive concept of a vector field. Get a program like MATLAB (or Octave, it's free) then plot a bunch of vector fields and you can see how functions look in the field. Or use something like this:

http://web.mit.edu/jbelcher/www/java/vecnodyncirc/vecnodyncirc.html

and just play around with it. If you're goal is physics then the quicker you can get physical intuition the quicker you'll deeply understand the material. I take this approach in my learning even though I come from a physics and math background. I like to learn the intuitive physical picture then add more rigor to the math later on, which is why I chose physics over math in grad school.

Others take the opposite approach --> Math first then add physics later, if this approach works best for you then do that. Experiment with your learning style now because if you can figure it out this soon you'll be more prepared than most others in math and science.
 

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