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Quantum Electrodynamics

  1. Dec 5, 2009 #1
    Hello fellow scientists and engineers.

    I am a Physics-EE double major at the U of MN (twin cities). I was originally focused on doing pure physics and obtaining a research position in academia or government, but various pressures have turned me from this path, causing me to pick up a second degree in EE (the elective overlap allows me to do it with one extra year) and I will more than likely move into the realm of industry. But I've not abandoned my aspirations in pure physics entirely.

    I feel that, if only for my own personal satisfaction, I should at least push my knowledge to QED, but I'm not sure how realistic this goal is without pursuing graduate studies in pure physics. I say QED because it is such an incredibly successful theory and it gets very close to the fundamental workings of the universe.

    My understanding is that this would require me to understand very well graduate level QM and EM (that means Jackson EM, *spit*), Special Relativity, QFT, and lord knows what else, and eventually the daunting theory of QED itself. I don't even think UMN offers a class in QED at the graduate level.

    Is this a reasonable goal for independent study if I opt out of graduate studies in pure physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2009 #2
    Hi Mathemaniac,

    I would like to encourage you to study EM/QM/QED independently. Remember that university professors will not teach you more than what's in textbooks already. Independent study is a hard work, but you can do it if you ask your own questions, read and compare multiple textbooks, and even study original journal articles. If you do it for your "own personal satisfaction" you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
  4. Dec 6, 2009 #3
    Not sure if this will help you out or not, but QED is often taught in courses that aren't necessarily called "QED". For example, it may be part of a relativistic QM course and/or QFT. As always, check out the course descriptions (although these aren't always reliable either).
  5. Dec 6, 2009 #4


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    If you're doing physics one suggestion I have is to do calculus at the "form" levels (ie study differential forms and stokes theorem on manifolds) when you get the chance. Although maths is not physics a lot of mathematical physics uses the extra generalization. Sometimes its more notation than anything else, but you'll have the advantage of reading and understanding current theories that are tossed around (since they will be in the more "generalized" language). If you get a choice between normal and honours calculus choose honours for sure.
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