Which (online) course in Physics should I choose?

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  • Thread starter Wrichik Basu
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  • #1
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You might be knowing that I have recently completed high school, and am waiting for admission into college. I have some time before college starts, and I am using this time in quenching my thirst in physics. My first choice would be a B.Sc. in physics.

Till now, I have acquired a working knowledge (not necessarily at the level of an exam) in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics (at the level of Griffiths, till Time-independent perturbation theory), and classical electrodynamics. I also have some knowledge in group theory, such that I can apply it to different fields in physics and chemistry. Also, I have done a course in Nuclear Physics basics.

I was debating on the topic of my next course. I was thinking about starting this course in CFT. I also have in mind Statistical Mechanics, and other fields in experimental physics like condensed matter physics, etc.

In this post, @Charles Link has mentioned that Optics is an important topic. There are a few courses on Optics available online, like this one.

Given my state, what do you think is the best for me? Should I continue with CFT (and thereafter an advanced course in QM, QFT and GR), or should I do some other course (like one in experimental physics)?

By the way, my aim is not to keep ahead of college or anything like that. I am interested in research. I would like to start some basic research work in experimental physics when I get into college. That is what I am preparing myself for.
 

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  • #2
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My recommendation would be: Get used to all kind of coordinates in as many variations as possible! It is the real language physicists use:

Cartesian,
polar,
cylindric,
geodesic,
vierbein,
tensors (incl. covariant and contravariant as physicists use it, do not look up the mathematics!, upper and lower indices),
matrices (incl. basis transformations),
multilinear forms (esp. differential forms, upper and lower indices),
functions,
differentials (incl. Jacobi, Hesse, Wronski, gradient, curl, divergence),
charts,
Einstein notation (upper and lower indices),
bra-ket notation,
epsilon, eta and delta notation: ##\epsilon_{ijk}, \eta_{ij}, \delta_{ij} ##.

They are all around and you frequently change from one to another. These damn littles indices are the real acrobatic behind physics, and the better you can handle them, the easier the formulas will appear to you.

Nobody actually cares about it, because it is considered trivial or to be learnt en passant, but they decide whether your life will be easy or hard! The most difficult thing seems to be, at least as far as I have observed it here over the time, to determine what is where. E.g. an expression ##T_\lambda(f_i(x^j))## goes from the space where the variables are from, over a function space, usually a Hilbert space, to the space of linear operators, here parameterized; and similar is true for a representation ##\varphi(X)(v)## written as ##Xv## from a vector space, an object which operates on it, to the representation itself - and now distribute four indices to it! I would have done if I only could have distinguished which one to write as lower and which as upper.
 
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  • #3
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Personally I would go through Boaz:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0471198269/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

It's what i am reading in preparation for an online course in Math and Physics:
http://www.openuniversity.edu/courses/qualifications/q77?
I already have a degree in Math so its just revision for me - but I finished 1982 - too long ago to get credit. I have already read it so in a way its double revision. But Open University will not budge - they will not let me skip subjects. I have to pass their beginning subjects before I get onto the interesting physics ones which will take about a year of, to be blunt, wasted time.

However once you know the math you can concentrate on the physics. If you have time I would read Landau - Mechanics.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #5
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I am already half way through that book. The chapters are really good, especially the first few on power series and infinite series, convergence, etc.
Yes its the best primer on applied math I know. Interestingly you only really need US system calculus AB so not much preparation is required. Personally I believe it should be done first year on all math related degrees. I am not a big fan of doing math related degree's at university without some exposure to calculus at HS - but that's just me.

Thanks
Bill
 
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