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While still an undergrad

  1. Dec 19, 2008 #1
    ... Did any of you check out physics grad levels books at your college library that contained the physics topics that interest you, and did any of you fully understand what the authors were discussing in the physics grad level books as undergrads? Or did you run into sections of the book where you absolutely could not understand what the authors were talking about
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2008 #2
    naturally if there is some assumed knowledge that you do not have for the book you might not understand parts of it.
  4. Dec 19, 2008 #3


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    I'm somewhere between a freshman and a sophomore. Of course I've been looking at some advanced physics books. I couldn't understand almost anything so I didn't bother for long. I'm just waiting to get there even if I'm very excited about reaching such a level of physics understanding.
  5. Dec 19, 2008 #4
    Most grad students (and probably many professors from a different subfield) don't understand graduate level physics books on a first pass - it's nothing at all to worry about.

    The absolute worst thing that you can do though is assume you won't understand and move on; you need to spend a lot of time and figure out the parts you don't understand, or else you aren't learning anything and you're wasting your time staring at a mountain you should be climbing.
  6. Dec 19, 2008 #5
    Jumping straight into graduate level text books isn't a very good idea because they assume you already know the undergraduate level material.

    The way physics is taught is you go through cycles and learn a bit more each time. 1st year physics you learn a bit of E&M. Coloumb's law, Biot-Savart law, some capcacitor stuff, ohm's law, etc. 2nd pass through should be the real E&M class(es), where you get introduced to things like surface charge/current, magnetization and polarization, induction, and hopefully planewaves and relativistic E&M. And in grad E&M I assume there is even more, or more complicated, etc. But in E&M "proper" we still started out with briefly going over vectors, Gauss's law, Stoke's Theorem, Coulomb's law, etc., before going into the new stuff. And from what I've heard, in graduate courses they also briefly review previous concepts before diving into the good stuff.

    Now, if you ever get stuck somewhere while reading a text book, it's because you came upon something you don't understand. Figure out what it is you are not understanding (i.e. some word, concept, or math operation), and learn that first, then come back. You know that a text book is beyond you when you have to do this a few times per page. :wink:
  7. Dec 23, 2008 #6
    Sorry to revived this old thread, but out of curiosity , what physics grad books did you attempt to read but did not completely understand. How many times did you have to read particular sections of that physics grad book did you until you read enough to master that physics section.
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