How is physics taught and learned. Teaching strategies, class examples and demonstrations; learning resources, career advice, etc. For explicit problems, use the 'homework' tag instead.

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The Z-Torque: how can it be shown intuitively that it does not work?

There is a new kickstarter project that claims to increase torque and power compared to a normal crank on a bicycle (Z-Torque on kickstarter). If this patented (US Patent Number 5899119) approach ...
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study quantum mechanics without physics background

I am a first year PhD math student, and must decide: should I study Quantum Mechanics, although I don't have undergrad background in Physics? Let me be more specific about my situation: Background: ...
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1answer
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Is it feasible to measure the energy of cosmic ray muons with a consumer Digital Single Lens Reflex camera?

I have read this article SIBBERNSEN, Kendra. Catching Cosmic Rays with a DSLR. Astronomy Education Review, 2010, 9: 010111. and it talks about estimating the muon cosmic ray flux by means of a DSLR ...
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Tips on teaching Dimensional Analysis?

What's a good way to explain dimensional analysis to a student? Here's a simple question which this method would be useful: Let's say a truck is moving with a speed of 18 m/s to a new speed of 13 ...
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Is there a general physics simulator for learning purposes?

Is there a complete physics simulator that I can use to do general simulations for learning purposes? For example: Create a sandbox. Fill with a gas. Load a 3d solid model like this (but 3d). Fill ...
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Recommendations for time-line and road map in graduate school towards specializing in Maldacena's conjecture

This question was asked on Theoretical Physics Stackexchange and was grossly misread and closed. I am again posting the question here hoping to get some valuable insights. Also some people were ...
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What should a physics undergrad aspiring to be a string theorist learn before grad school?

The question I guess is pretty clear. I am a physics undergrad wishing to pursue research in quantum gravity(string theory?). What are the subjects I should learn other than the usual compulsory ...
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Going Beyond Introductory Physics [closed]

Due to certain reasons, I don't have the chance for going to college for under-graduation, but that doesn't mean I can't choose to walk the hard path and learn. Over the past month or so a lot of ...
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547 views

Prerequisites to start the study of noncommutative geometry in physics

What are prerequisites (in mathematics and physics), that one should know about for getting into use of ideas from noncommutative geometry in physics?
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180 views

How can one make sure that one had understood the material studied? [closed]

I do not fully understand the process of understanding of a material one reads. Suppose someone reads a chapter from a physics book. How does one make sure that one had really understood what she/he ...
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Is there a handwavy way to explain what quantum correlation means?

Is there a simple way to explain the difference between a classical and truly quantum correlation to a non-quantum person who has basic understanding classical correlation? I mean without invoking ...
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Explanation of Lorentz-Force

In high-school level books (for example the german standard text: "Dorn-Bader") I have often seen an explanation of the Lorentz force as on the following picture: The textbooks consider the ...
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Undergrad project advice [closed]

I am presently in my senior year and I am considering fluid mechanics for my thesis. What area of research of fluid mechanics which is purely analytical and very mathematical since I am an applied ...
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380 views

What are the mathematical prerequisites to understand this paper? [closed]

What are the mathematical prerequisites to understand this paper? Blumenhagen et al. Four-dimensional String Compactifications with D-Branes, Orientifolds and Fluxes. Phys. Rept. 445 no. 1-6, pp. ...
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891 views

Explaining Newton's Laws of motion to a 6 year old

An old professor of mine once said that an effective means to get people interested in Physics is to get them started early. What would be an effective and meaningful (and fun) means to explain ...
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396 views

Which subjects in physics should I choose if I want to help tackling today's energy and environment related problems? [closed]

I was wondering what subjects a freshman in mathematics ought to choose in the future if s/he wanted to help working on energy and environment-related issues we are currently facing, and will very ...
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375 views

Embrace Physics

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what is a good topic for a short talk on theoretical physics to a bunch of Math and Physics undergrads that might make them "embrace" theoretical physics? ...
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2k views

Help an aspiring physicists what to self-study [closed]

This is probably not the kind of question you'll often encounter on this forum, but I think a bit of background is needed for this question to make sense and not seem like a duplicate: 2012 has been ...
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691 views

What do you think about teaching Standard Model in school? [closed]

Here is a scan from an old Soviet textbook for school children: It shows the table of quarks and antiquarks of different generations, colours, spins. The book also includes similar tables of gluons ...
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How deep can my knowledge of particle physics go without the maths?

By no means do I have the mathematical background to understand most of the math used in elementary particle physics. My current knowledge is of all the elementary particles and how they interact ...
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224 views

Is there a good experiment to demonstrate Gauss's Law for Magnetism?

I'm trying to come up with a simple experiment that can demonstrate the properties of Gauss's Law for Magnetism. I am aware that it is a mathematical representation of the fact that magnetic ...
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2answers
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How to choose a suitable topic for PhD in Physics? [closed]

After completion of graduate courses when a student is supposed to start real research in Physics, (to be more specific, suppose in high energy physics), how does one select the problem to work on? ...
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846 views

Alternate layman's metaphors for illustrating curved space-time

The metaphor of a surface (typically a pool table or a trampoline) distorted by a massive object is commonly used as a metaphor for illustrating gravitationally induced space-time curvature. But as ...
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Difference between momentum and kinetic energy

From a mathematical point of view it seems to be clear what's the difference between momentum and $mv$ and kinetic energy $\frac{1}{2} m v^2$. Now my problem is the following: Suppose you want to ...
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184 views

What is an effective and efficient way to read research papers? [duplicate]

I will be a grad student in condensed matter theory starting this fall. As an undergrad, I did the basic physics and math courses as well as a few grad classes (qft, analysis, solid state physics ...
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Does conservation of momentum really imply Newton's third law?

I often heard that conservation of momentum is nothing else than Newton's third law. Ok, If you have only two interacting particles in the universe, this seems to be quite obvious. However if you ...
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Do I need to study the “Standard Model” before studying String Theory?

After this semester, I'll have a background up to a first course in QFT (first 5 or 6 chapters of Peskin and Schroeder). The next step in QFT will be something specific to the Standard Model ...
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393 views

Undergraduate-friendly reading material on the multiverse?

I'll be teaching a seminar for first-year undergraduates next year. The idea of my university's first-year seminar program is to expose students to exciting ideas and important texts in a somewhat ...
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373 views

Is mid-water bouyancy a classic example of a balanced but unstable system?

I came to this thought experiment as I was pondering good teaching examples of stable and unstable systems. It occurred to me that stable systems are really quite abundant. For a shoot-from-the-hip ...
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Examples of singularities in classical physics

I am a math teacher and I have to teach a topic called "Bruchterme" and "Bruchgleichungen" in german (I don't know the english word for it). For example $$ \frac{x^2 - 3}{(x - 2)x^2} + \frac{4}{x} + ...
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191 views

Why distinguish between row and column vectors?

Mathematically, a vector is an element of a vector space. Sometimes, it's just an n-tuple $(a,b,c)$. In physics, one often demands that the tuple has certain transformation properties to be called a ...
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Everyday example of diffusion unobscured by advection, wetting etc

Diffusion is an important concept in elementary science education, especially because it supports (or seems to support) the notion of matter consisting of very small everyday particles (as opposed to ...
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241 views

How to learn celestial mechanics?

I'm a PhD student in math and am really excited about celestial mechanics. I was wondering if anyone could give me a roadmap for learning this subject. The amount of information about it on the ...
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90 views

Is there a theoretical physics masters that accepts mathematics graduates? [closed]

I plan to graduate with an honours (four year) degree in philosophy and a general (three year) degree in mathematics. Are there any physics graduate programs that might admit me if I were to apply? ...
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88 views

Textbook about the handiwork of a HEP analysis?

I'm wondering if there is a textbook that describes the handiwork of a particle physics analysis. There are a bunch of books about theory, about the experimental aspects like detectors, and about ...
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495 views

Good theoretical physics introduction for 6 year old very advanced in math? [duplicate]

I think now is a good time to introduce my son to theoretical physics. He asks so many questions about the universe, black holes, gravity, atoms, molecules, light, etc. He's borderline obsessed with ...
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What's the standard “roadmap” to learning quantum physics? [closed]

I'm really interested in quantum physics and would like to learn more. However, I don't know where to start and in what order I should learn things. So, ideally I'm looking for some sort of roadmap of ...
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Physics Equations for Grad School / Physics GRE Prep

Motivation for asking question: I am planning to take the GRE subject test for Physics. Question: Can somebody please tell me what are the most important equations I should definitely know and ...
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2answers
483 views

Is the proper interpretation of temperature missing in this book?

In Randall T. Knight’s textbook “Physics for Scientists and Engineers” in the first chapter on thermodynamics (Ch. 16: A Macroscopic Description of Matter) one of the first conceptual questions is ...
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297 views

What are some good international, English language physics grad programs? [closed]

I am looking into physics PhD programs and I would love to take the opportunity to live abroad (again). I know there are some well-known, technical, international universities like IIT in India and ...
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312 views

Applications of recoil principle in classical physics

Are there any interesting, important or (for the non physicist) astonishing examples where the recoil principle (as special case of conservation of linear momentum) is applied beside rockets and guns? ...
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114 views

Education : Students devising and solving their own problems [closed]

I apologize in advance for the nature of this question. I have been thinking lately of methods to increase the quality of my self-study. I have been meaning, but never actually got to, in addition ...
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5answers
293 views

Usefullness of an only qualitative understanding of momentum?

A few days ago I had a discussion with a friend who wants to become a physics teacher (in Germany). He told me that from a pedagogical/didactial point of view it seems to be a good idea to introduce ...
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417 views

Is the historical method of teaching physics a “legitimate, sure and fruitful method of preparing a student to receive a physical hypothesis”? [closed]

The French physicist, historian, and philosopher of physics, Pierre Duhem, wrote:The legitimate, sure and fruitful method of preparing a student to receive a physical hypothesis is the historical ...
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Please recommend a good book about physics for young child (elementary school aged) [closed]

I'm looking for a book that would be appropriate for an advanced elementary school aged kids (say, 6-11 YO) describing the basics of physics (or sciences in general) in entertaining way. The ...
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354 views

'Getting in' to research physics?

I'm going to be choosing a university course soon, and I want to go into a branch of physics. A dream job for me would be to work in research, however, I do realise that this isn't for everyone and is ...
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360 views

In what order should the subjects be studied in order to get to String Theory [duplicate]

I know: Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths Level, currently doing Sakurai Level) Mechanics (Newtonian+ Lagrangian/Hamiltonian but at level lower than Goldstein/Landau) Classical Electrodynamics ...
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582 views

Virtual images in (plane) mirrors?

The following image is taken from teaching physics lecture Was man aus virtuellen Bildern lernen kann (in German): Now the cited paper claims that the left hand side is the correct picture to ...
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199 views

Physics talk with an emphasis on Mathematics [closed]

I have to give a 10 minute physics talk that have to involve a fair bit of mathematics -- i.e. not just qualitative/handwaving material to some undergrads. I have wasted the last 3 hours looking for ...
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1answer
489 views

Way to become a physicist [duplicate]

I am a class 9 student in India. I want to become a physicist. What should I study after class 10? What are my options for colleges and universities? What should I do after my education? What are the ...