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Studying What background is needed for nuclear physics

  1. Jul 14, 2016 #1
    Hello. I am currently just a 2nd year undergrad, with nuclear physics being my end goal for study. However, as of now, I cannot even open an entry-level nuclear energy textbook without being totally lost. So I am asking: what background is needed (in terms of courses, materials, etc.) in order to finally be able to enter into the nuclear world?

    Some relevant background of what I've taken:
    Math: up to vector calc/diff eq./lin alg
    Phys: up to advanced mechanics/advanced E&M/advanced optics/basic quantum/basic relativity

    Essentially, what fields must I be familiar with (and, if possible, what textbooks are good) in order to have the background needed to learn nuclear physics?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2016 #2
    It seems strange that with your background you are struggling with intro nuc phys. Perhaps your quantum is weak. In the intro nuc phys book you have used could you give a list of topics covered to make sure I understand your issues.
     
  4. Jul 14, 2016 #3
    Sure. Maybe I wasn't clear. I got a free textbook from an old professor Introduction to High Energy Physics by Perkins (1972)
     
  5. Jul 14, 2016 #4

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    I am reading Judah Eisenberg's and Walter Greiner's 3 volume books; from reading ~300 pages from the first volume you should know your special functions (and if not, then you can consult your prefered book on special functions), tensor analysis, Clebsch- Gordan coefficients, Wigner-Eckhart theorem; basically you should have covered something like all of Cohen-Tannoudji or a suitable two courses in QM.
     
  6. Jul 14, 2016 #5
    So it is not a standard nuclear physics (low energy with which I am familiar) text but a particle physics text. So your intro to QM is definitely inadequate. This text and the subject itself is probably well beyond your preparation. You need a more advance relativistic QM course to get you started and a Quantum Electrodynamics course to get you into the spirit of the subject of particle physics. Now I have been partly down this road many years ago so my knowledge of the current thrust of particle physics ie. Quantum Chromodynamics and the Standard Model is at best sketchy but this would be your goal.
     
  7. Jul 14, 2016 #6

    DrSteve

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    I'm a nuclear physicist. Where do your interests lie - low energy (nuclear structure) or high energy (qgp) nuclear physics? If the former, Krane's Nuclear Physics would be a good choice. He gives you just enough quantum mechanics to tackle the material. Even if your interests are focused on the latter you should start with Krane, then move on to something intermediary like Greiner's or Weiskopf's nuclear physics.

    If it's particle physics you're after that's another story, as pointed out by the other forum members. In any case I hope you're not pursuing particle physics just because you picked up a free textbook.
     
  8. Jul 14, 2016 #7
    Me picking up the textbook was not the cause for interest, it was my interest that caused me to pick up the textbook :)
     
  9. Jul 14, 2016 #8

    e.bar.goum

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    Another nuclear physicist here - I'm adding my +1 to the suggestion of Krane.
     
  10. Jul 14, 2016 #9

    jtbell

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    And don't confuse particle physics with nuclear physics! They're very different fields. I was in experimental particle physics in grad school. When one of the nuclear physics people gave the weekly departmental colloquium, I could follow maybe the first ten minutes. :-p
     
  11. Jul 15, 2016 #10

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    But they obviously related to each other; I looked at the school of physics at my university and they rarely offer courses in nuclear physics in graduate studies.

    
     
  12. Jul 15, 2016 #11

    DrSteve

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    Only in a weak sense. As you likely know, low energy nuclear physics is nonperturbative, so one resorts to effective models, such as the liquid drop or shell model or S-Martix theory.
     
  13. Jul 15, 2016 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    There are two questions here: one is what you need to study Perkins, and the other is whether Perkins is about nuclear physics.

    The answer to the second question, as mentioned above, is "no". However, it is probably one of the more nuclear-like texts, i.e. the approach is more like what you would see in nuclear physics than, say, Griffiths.

    So I got a chance to take a look at Perkins. I would not want to jump into that without QM at the level of, say Griffiths. (Griffiths QM, the other Griffiths)
     
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