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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How to motivate the importance of the spacetime interval

The spacetime interval is a rather important thing in Special Relativity. It allows us to define the separation between any two events as spacelike, timelike or lightlike and more importantly, the ...
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2answers
953 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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278 views

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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1answer
134 views

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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145 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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395 views

Leonard Susskind's videos. Which order? [closed]

As a mathematics student with almost no modern physics background (just an introduction to relativity when I was in secondary school) I find Leonard Susskind's lectures videos (freely available in ...
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255 views

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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513 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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4answers
1k views

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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7answers
1k views

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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7answers
1k views

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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1answer
1k views

How to learn physics? [duplicate]

I am an engineering student (CSE) in India..But recently I have developed a strong love to physics..I want to learn physics and understand it in deep..I know physics is the search of deep fundamental ...
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4answers
1k views

Advantage of doing research in theoretical high energy over other fields?

I am undecided about the field I want to do my PhD in, in graduate school. I am asking because the applications that I am filling ask me to write the intended field of study. I found the people who ...
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2answers
352 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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4answers
836 views

Why do physics students find vectors so difficult to deal with? [closed]

When I teach introductory physics to undergraduates, I find that although the classes are frequently split into "algebra-based" and "calculus-based" sections, the most difficult concept for any of ...
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2answers
5k views

Walter Lewin Lectures in HD [closed]

I like the lectures by Walter Lewin 8.0x. However the quality of the videos is pretty bad. Is there any way (DVD, web,...) to get the lecture videos in a good quality, best in HD?
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414 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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2answers
141 views

Physical examples where changing the order of limits yields wrong result [closed]

In mathematics it is generally not allowed to change order of limits. For example it is not always true for a sequence of functions $f_n$, that $\int_a^b \left(\sum_{n=0}^\infty f_n(x) \right) dx = ...
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2answers
167 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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2answers
507 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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3answers
909 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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1answer
266 views

Prerequisites for Halliday Resnick Walker

I am in grade 10. I have developed an interest in physics but unfortunately I do not know/ have not studied calculus yet as my school board does not recommend it in grade 10. I have a copy of ...
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4answers
462 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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140 views

How can one meaningfully say that one field generates the other in an EM-wave?

This is a follow up question to: Do the electric and magnetic components of an electromagnetic wave really generate each other? Clearly there are nuances of how one states the "mutual induction" ...
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2answers
164 views

Understanding the AdS/CFT Correspondence [duplicate]

I am beginning to learn about the AdS/CFT correspondence, but I can't find a comprehensive introduction that includes the relevant gravitational/string theory physics. What specific areas of general ...
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4answers
7k views

What is 2 $\theta$ in X-ray powder diffraction (XRD)?

Why are we taking 2$\theta$ instead of $\theta$ in X-ray powder diffraction (XRD). I have found the forum post 2 theta in X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD), but there is no answer. What is the ...
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2answers
226 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
205 views

What kind of free energy do we use for a superconductor in a magnetic field?

My reasoning is as follows (using Gaussian units): Start from the second law: $$dU=TdS+dW,$$ where $dW$ is the work done by the magnetic field. To derive $dW$, we consider a solenoid with current ...
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1answer
619 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 ...
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1answer
513 views

Some questions about the logics of the principles of independence of motion and composition of motion

In high-school level textbooks* one encounters often the principles of independence of motion and that of composition (or superpositions) of motions. In this context this is used as "independence of ...
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1answer
70 views

“Hollow Earth” like Theories for pedagogical porpuses [closed]

I recently encountered the Hollow Earth theory, and I realize that This kind of theories can be used to give a really interesting discussion of a physical law. For example, If we take the ...
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209 views

What concepts could I teach to children in a game about quantum-mechanics? [closed]

I think that games can also be used to teach things to young people or childs, different than for example a book and could be more "direct" than teaching them all the math background, I would like to ...
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2answers
272 views

Looking for lists of student difficulties with electromagnetism, circuits (DC and AC) [closed]

I'm trying to help with an Instructor's Guide for an introductory calc-based physics text, and it would really help if I could locate some lists of typical student difficulties with topics like ... ...
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3answers
257 views

Counting Problems in Physics [closed]

What are some classic counting problems in physics? I'm trying to think of interesting examples to give in a math class on the matter, and I feel as if physics should have some ones to offer.
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212 views

Lebesgue integration [closed]

I know this question is probably not adequate to this SE either, but let me explain my situation: I'm civil engineering's college, so, there isn't a SE for civil engineering, and my doubts about ...
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503 views

A gentle introduction to CFT [closed]

Which is the definition of a conformal field theory? Which are the physical prerequisites one would need to start studying conformal field theories? (i.e Does one need to know supersymmetry? Does one ...
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0answers
303 views

Course advice for someone interested in strings and mathematical physics [closed]

I'll be doing Introductory General Relativity and Graduate Quantum Mechanics II next semester. I still need to choose 2 (or maybe 3, but I don't want to overload too much) from the following: ...
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432 views

Dirac action and conventions

I have a (possibly) fundamental question, which is driving me crazy. Notation When considering the Dirac action (say reading Peskin's book), one have $\int ...
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6answers
16k views

What distinguishes between physics and chemistry? [closed]

What are the major differences between physics and chemistry? I know that they both study atoms, electrons and molecules, but what makes some topics part of one and some part of another?
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4answers
387 views

How are we able to view an object in a room with bulb..?

This is a very basic question on optics. How are we able to view an object kept in a room with a bulb? From what I understand, light rays from bulb will hit the object and some colour will be ...
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4answers
7k views

Mathematical background for Quantum Mechanics [duplicate]

What are some good sources to learn the mathematical background of Quantum Mechanics? I am talking functional analysis, operator theory etc etc...
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4answers
325 views

List of Physical Toys [closed]

There should be a list of toys considered "physical", which demonstrate or make you think over certain physical principles/phenomena. And of course which could just amaze. Related question at MSE is ...
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2answers
265 views

Quantum Fluctuations as a model for the Big Bang?

I have quite often heard (and even used) the idea that quantum fluctuations are a way to explain the whole "something from nothing" intuitive leap. I am about to give a talk at a local school on ...
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4answers
1k views

In which field of mathematics do I learn path integrals?

I don't mean line integrals, I am talking about path integrals or functional integrals like the ones that Feynman introduced to quantum mechanics. And what are the prerequisites to this field of ...
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3answers
278 views

What are some creative illustrations of the nature of dissipative forces?

I'm teaching a conceptual introduction to physics for American 13-15 year old students this summer. One of the main ideas I want to hit on is the relationship between energy conservation, ...
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1answer
660 views

Phenomena which are incorrectly declared as resonance phenomena?

In standard college physics text books, high-school books and popular level physics books, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is often taken as an example of resonance. However a more detailed ...
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1answer
269 views

Statistical Mechanics vs Statistics

Just how much of a representation of statistics do we get in a statistical mechanics curriculum. What are some of the useful facets of stat not in stat mech/quantum mech that physicists should really ...
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1answer
316 views

What to consider before taking a physics course (given a mathematical background)? [closed]

I'm a Computer Engineering major, but when I was in high school I was a very poor student. I didn't pay attention and I didn't think I was capable of succeeding in classes like Math and Science so I ...
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1answer
841 views

What is a quantum field?

I'm just tasting a bit of QFT and want to get started. I got stuck right at the start: what is a quantum field, and how should I look at it? This question can be a follow up of the What is a field, ...
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1answer
2k views

Book recommendations for fluid dynamics self study

I have my bachelors degree in engineering science: computer science, option electrotechnic. I have a good understanding of basic mechanics and dynamics, calculus (differential equations). The books ...