Taking Physics 2 before Physics 1?

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Hi everyone,

I want to take the Physics 1 & 2 sequence next year but Physics 1 conflicts with my schedule for an important course in my major next semester (I'm in CS). Is it possible/advisable to take the calculus-based Physics 2 before Physics 1? I'm a good student, I'm taking Calc 2 this semester and would be willing to self-study if I need to catch up on anything. I took physics in high school but my teacher was horrible, I think we used a middle school textbook and I don't remember anything from it so I would basically be starting from zero.

Thanks for any advice!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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You should talk to the professor of the course and your academic advisor. They should be able to give much better advice than strangers on the internet.
 
  • #3
George Jones
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Is Physics 1 an official prerequisite for Physics 2 at the school you (plan to) attend? If so, you will have to talk to officials at the school.
 
  • #4
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It is, but I have already taken a couple math courses with "prerequisites" that I hadn't taken and everything worked out fine, there wasn't even a block in the system when I registered.

Here is a better question: how much does Physics 2 rely on the concepts from Physics 1?
 
  • #5
MarneMath
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Let's assuming you're even allowed to do this (which, I seriously doubt you will be), I think it's a terrible idea. Physics I tends to be a really hard class because it teaches people how to solve physics problems. This may sound obvious, but probably not as much as it sounds. The skills you learn in physics I is not so much about physical concepts but rather problem solving, and how to look at the actual physics instead of just figuring out what equation to use. If you haven't formed this skill, then physics II is just much more difficult. If you're not use to looking at an equation and looking at what it really means in physical terms, (not just slope or direction but also what it implies about reality) then you're just setting yourself up for failure.
 
  • #6
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I don't see why you couldn't do it. If you say you're willing to work hard, there is no drawbacks. I mean, it's nice to have taken a physics class before, but there really isn't any knowledge you need from physics I (assuming this is newtonian mechanics) for physics II (Maxwell equations (integral form)).
 
  • #7
WannabeNewton
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... but there really isn't any knowledge you need from physics I (assuming this is newtonian mechanics) for physics II (Maxwell equations (integral form)).
And how exactly did you come to this conclusion?
 
  • #8
jasonRF
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I agree with micromass - we cannot answer this. Talk to your advisor and the instructor for the course, at the very least.

Every university does things different. When I took physics 2 (special relativity and electromagnetism) it clearly required physics 1 (mechanics and thermodynamics). Computing torque on an arbitrary current loop in a magnetic field requires you to know what torque is; computing the potential energy of a configuration of charge requires you to understand what potential energy is; the treatment of relativistic mechanics assumed we understood non-relativistic mechanics; etc.

Again, talk to the profs at your university. They are much much more likely to give you the best advice on this than any of us are.

Jason
 
  • #9
bcrowell
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No. Don't even think about it. If your school has any academic integrity, they won't let you do it anyway.
 
  • #10
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And how exactly did you come to this conclusion?
Oh I dunno, ive just taken and passed the classes.

Computing torque on an arbitrary current loop in a magnetic field requires you to know what torque is; computing the potential energy of a configuration of charge requires you to understand what potential energy is
Err... I'm going to disagree. You will be taught on how to use torque specifically for E&M, whether it be for dipole moment, or whatever scenario you can think of. Going off your logic, shouldn't one have to take calc 3 and linear algebra before even attempting physics I? (What are vectors? What is a dot product? What is a cross product? Vectors in 3D, etc.)

Does it HELP to have taken physics I? 100% agree with that it does. Torque is a great example, as this demonstrates that it's a good idea to have played with torque before getting to dipole moment so you don't have to learn two concepts at once! But, do you NEED to have played with torque before? Nope! OP is asking if it possible to take physics II before physics I, and I'm saying yes it is possible!. (I'm not advising him to do so, i'm just saying yes, it's possible.)
 
  • #11
Oh I dunno, ive just taken and passed the classes.



Err... I'm going to disagree. You will be taught on how to use torque specifically for E&M, whether it be for dipole moment, or whatever scenario you can think of. Going off your logic, shouldn't one have to take calc 3 and linear algebra before even attempting physics I? (What are vectors? What is a dot product? What is a cross product? Vectors in 3D, etc.)

Does it HELP to have taken physics I? 100% agree with that it does. Torque is a great example, as this demonstrates that it's a good idea to have played with torque before getting to dipole moment so you don't have to learn two concepts at once! But, do you NEED to have played with torque before? Nope! OP is asking if it possible to take physics II before physics I, and I'm saying yes it is possible!. (I'm not advising him to do so, i'm just saying yes, it's possible.)
At most schools Calc 1 is the only prerequisite for Physics as far as math goes, or you need to be taking it at the same time as physics 1. All you need to know for Physics 1 (newtonian mechanics) is basic derivatives for velocity and acceleration as well as some integrals for force, work and some moment of inertia problems. Physics 2 requires Calc 2 because you need to know different types of integrals such as trig substitution, and u substitution. I'm in physics 3 right now which is covering special reactivity, photoelectric effect, some energy level stuff and introductory quantum mechanics such as quantum tunneling and energy barriers/wave functions etc. Calc 3 is the pre-requisite for that but we don't really use anything from calc 3 in the class. Physics 1 and 2 both use dote and cross products but the instructor should tell you how to do this and usually its done trigonometrically with sine and cosine components and not using a matrix or unit vectors. However, unit vectors are used in calc 1 and 2 so i would recommend learning those.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50
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I don't see why you couldn't do it. If you say you're willing to work hard, there is no drawbacks. I mean, it's nice to have taken a physics class before, but there really isn't any knowledge you need from physics I (assuming this is newtonian mechanics) for physics II (Maxwell equations (integral form)).
This is terrible advice. You don't know "there is [sic] no drawbacks". You don't know what is covered in either class, at least not in detail, you haven't the perspective of finishing college - or even high school, and you didn't do this yourself. Yet you're encouraging the OP to ignore advice given by PhD's in physics who are actually college instructors. Not a very good idea.
 

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