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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Trouble with classical mechanics self-learning (How to avoid going down the Physics rabbit hole?) [duplicate]

I'm a retired police officer trying to learn classical mechanics on my own. I have gone through many links on the Internet including the classical mechanics quick reference textbooks from Physics ...
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Math or Physics degree?

I am hoping to become a physicist focusing mainly on the theoretical side in the future. I am trying to decide whether to go for a physics or math undergrad course. Assuming that I am capable of ...
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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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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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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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Physics First: Where is Science Education Today?

Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics and former director of Fermilab was a champion in 'Physics First', a principle in science education proposing Physics as the first course in science ...
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How does the boiling time depend on the number of eggs

My nephew showed me an exercise from his school-textbook about boiling eggs. Here is the exercise (translated from german): To make one hard-boiled egg in a pot of water one has to put it for 8 ...
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An approachable example of a field with a “mass gap”

Preamble: I have come to believe that alot of difficulties in explaining physics to people of all levels comes from the relatively mundane idea of a wave equation with a mass gap $$\left(-\partial^2_t ...
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Linear Algebra for Quantum Physics

A week ago I asked people on this forum what mathematical background was needed for understanding Quantum Physics, and most of you mentioned Linear Algebra, so I decided to conduct a self-study of ...
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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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How can some-one independently do research in particle physics? [closed]

I'm not affiliated with a physics department and I want to do independent research. I'm working my way through Peskin et. al. QFT now. Let's say that I've finished Peskin et. al. and Weinberg QFT ...
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Educational physics stories with a funny punchline [closed]

As a physicist, when I'm giving lectures or during colloquiums, I usually find it necessary to have some appropriate and related jokes in hand. All of the best teachers have some, and they use them ...
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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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What math do I need for mathematical physics? In what manner should I learn math? [closed]

I'm a freshman undergraduate. I've got my sight on mathematical physics. I love math but I don't have the talent nor the inclination for purely abstract mathematics. I also love physics. The only ...
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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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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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Tips on teaching Dimensional Analysis? [closed]

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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study quantum mechanics without physics background [closed]

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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557 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Physics journals that focus on expository work

As the title says, I'm looking for journals that focus on expository work in Physics. What I mean is that the journal is less focused on communication between professionals and more on disseminating ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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What is Method of Characteristics?

I am a final year student of BS Mechanical Engineering and method of characteristics is not a part of our curriculum. In-fact I heard of it first time after finally picking my FYP. My final year ...
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Examples of singularities in classical physics [closed]

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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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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363 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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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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Book with solved examples and exercise problems for SUSY

I am learning supersymmetry right now. I am mostly following Bailin and Love. I try to connect all the steps from the book and complete the derivations in order to get comfortable with the ...
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507 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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Which one to learn first: Special or general relativity? [closed]

I am extremely interested in self-learning Einstein's theory of relativity, but I don't know where to start. Can I make general relativity my starting point, and later look at special relativity as ...
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For a theoretical (not mathematical) physicist, is there a need to learn pure mathematics?

For a theoretical physicist (not a mathematical physicist), is there a need to learn pure mathematics ?
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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 ...