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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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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4answers
261 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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3answers
224 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
476 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
171 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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2answers
8k views

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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2answers
123 views

Learning about super-symmetric quantum mechanics and integrable systems

I'm an undergraduate interested in theory. I recently asked one of my professors, a physicist in the particle theory group at my school, if he'd be willing to take on an undergraduate for a senior ...
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3answers
662 views

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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2answers
2k 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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1answer
424 views

How to set up a very simple experiment in optics?

This might come across as a very rudimentary question. My fundamentals of Optics are weak. In the optics chapter of my physics text book I saw diagrams each depicting an object on the left and a lens ...
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1answer
78 views

How can I easily explain interference to a tour group?

I'm looking for unique and illustrative ways to explain the phenomenon of interference to a tour group consisting of all types of people, from elementary school kids to adults. I run into this ...
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1answer
68 views

Phases of the moon video

I am an educator, and I am looking for a specific video. In the video, they ask some middle school students and some college graduates about why the moon has phases. Most of the students in both the ...
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1answer
231 views

A loop quantum gravity toy inspired by an Aharonov-Bohm ring

Comparing my question to Give a description of Loop Quantum Gravity your grandmother could understand what I'm looking for here is a toy for a toddler ($\approx$ a pre-QFT graduate student). I seek ...
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5answers
923 views

Doppler effect of sound waves

I am looking for interesting ways to introduce the Doppler effect to students. I want some situations in nature or every day life, where a student is possibly surprised and may ask "how could it be"? ...
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1answer
131 views

How can one learn to visualize 4 dimensional spacetime?

I was watching Professor Leonard Susskind's lecture on Quantum Entanglements and he said that there are physicists and people who study physics, who 'rewire' themselves so they can visualize 4 ...
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1answer
621 views

How do I learn higher level physics? [closed]

I'm a chemical engineering student (just completed BS and am started the PhD program), but I'm very interested in particle physics as a hobby. I'm dismayed though with the sheer amount of information ...
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2answers
630 views

References for real life applications on advanced EM

For EM (freshman level physics) and advanced EM (Junior/Senior level) to help students appreciate the material, I am looking for books/websites that contain: 1-applications of electricity and ...
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1answer
407 views

Substance like quanties and conserved quantities, Karlsruhe physics course

In the Karlsruhe physics course one defines the term "substance-like" quantity: Let my cite the definition from a paper by Falk, Herrmann and Schmid: "There is a class of physical quantities whose ...
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136 views

Math needed for undergrad Statistical Mechanics/Thermal Physics

A professor recommended me to take a course on Statistical Physics as preparation for agent-based computing in social sciences. Now I have no experience in physics beyond basic highschool, and ...
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0answers
226 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
55 views

Demo of Classical Example of a Spin 1/2 System

I was wondering if there are demos of spin 1/2 systems that anyone knows of. Are there any classical systems that are symmetric under a rotation of $4\pi$ and not $2\pi$?
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0answers
274 views

Interesting Math Topics Useful for Physics [closed]

What are some interesting, but less popular, math topics that are useful for physics that can be self-studied? Specifically, topics that might ultimately be useful in high energy theory (even if it is ...
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6answers
2k views

How does one build up intuition in physics? [closed]

How does one build up an intuitive gut feeling for physics that some people naturally have? Physics seems to be a hodgepodge of random facts. Is that a sign to quit physics and take up something ...
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8answers
2k views

Real world examples for projectile thrown upwards or downwards

I am preparing a physics course for high school about projectile motions. If a projectile moves with initial velocity $v_0$ in the gravitational field of the earth, the equation $$ s(t) = 1/2 g t^2 ...
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2answers
193 views

What does one need to learn to become a experimental particles physicist? [closed]

I know one needs E&M, classical, quantum, statmech at the graduate level. But what more does one need? Are quantum field theory, relativistic QM, advanced math needed? or just an advanced course ...
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2answers
1k views

Is it safe to study from MIT and Berkeley course series, or they contain wrong information?

After surveying most of the universities introductory physics courses, I found none is using Berkeley physics books or MIT physics books as textbooks. All are using Halliday, or Serway and the like. ...
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5answers
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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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3answers
74 views

Are there any musical instruments which use resonance tubes with two closed ends?

Many musical instruments use resonance tubes with one closed end - all brass instruments (I think), clarinet, etc. There are also instruments where both ends are open (flute, pipes) Are there any ...
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1answer
323 views

Is it possible to take a QFT class knowing only basic quantum mechanics?

I'm in grad school and notice there are no prerequisites required for QFT in the physics department. In fact, the system allows me to sign up for the course just fine as a technical elective. But... ...
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2answers
264 views

German book on introductory quantum mechanics

I'm looking for an originally German introduction to quantum mechanics. Is there such a canonical book used in German QM undergraduate courses?
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1answer
91 views

Is there any way to read the Feynman Lectures for free? [duplicate]

The Feynman Lectures on Physics probably constitute the most famous introductory physics textbook ever written. The level of intuition it provides is hard to beat; I first started reading it in ...
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2answers
2k views

What math is needed to understand the Schrödinger equation?

If I now see the Schrödinger equation, I just see a bunch of weird symbols, but I want to know what it actually means. So I'm taking a course of Linear Algebra and I'm planning on starting with PDE's ...
2
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1answer
201 views

Extra help in Optics

I am in an optics class, and we are using the text "Introduction to Optics" third edition by Pedrotti. The book is completely useless in the course. The questions in the review section of the chapter ...
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4answers
131 views

Suggestions of a non-linear example for a small research project on numerical solution of ODEs?

I'm a first year undergrad and I'm doing a small research extension on numerically solving ODEs. I have done the main ODE course at my university, as well as physics. The second part of the project ...
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1answer
455 views

Why does a plane wave have definite momentum?

Apologies if this is a little vague. It might not have a good answer. Given the interpretation of $|\psi(x)|^2$ as a probability distribution it's unsurprising that a wave function that is ...
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3answers
477 views

Simple home pressure experiment: how to understand the dependence on the glass opening?

Suppose you put a drinking glass under water such that it is completely filled with water. Then hold it upside down and slowly raise the drinking glass out of the water. The water in the drinking ...
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2answers
741 views

Studying electrodynamics problems

Suppose an advanced undergraduate student has reached a moderate level of understanding on electrodynamics. Where should he focus on, to sharpen his problem-solving skills? Practicing integrals ...
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1answer
126 views

Can someone be too late for being a great physicist? [duplicate]

I am a first year physics student, but I am 20 years old (pretty old for my country, average starting age is 18), because I started after leaving med school, which I find extremely jailed in ...
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1answer
129 views

S-Matrix, String theory, Matrix mechanics and Quantum Mechanics

I'm trying to learn theoretical physics up to string theory. I know linear algebra, calculus 1+2, complex analysis. I know the basics of homology, homotopy, group theory and differential geometry. Now ...
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2answers
188 views

Applying $\nabla\times\mathbf{B} = \mu_0\mathbf{J}$ in the presence of magnetic shielding

2012-06-13 - Revised question in experimental format (This is a thought experiment for which RF experts may have an immediate answer.) I'll assume (I could be wrong) the possibility of creating a ...
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2answers
195 views

Introducing emf of a chemical cell as a hint towards quantum mechanics

Today I had a discussion with a colleague who teaches electricity and magnetism to 2nd year undergraduate physics students. He is seeking the best way to explain how is the emf generated inside a ...
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1answer
93 views

Are there examples of online physics collaboration similar to polymath for mathematicians?

When it comes to maths collaboration online, the mathematicians seem to be very well organised. A recent example is Polymath8 from Terence Tao's blog: The main objectives of the polymath8 project, ...
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1answer
1k views

Walter Lewin Lectures in HD

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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0answers
30 views

Is rigorous functional analysis useful for theoretical physics? [duplicate]

I'm an undergraduate physics without much quantum mechanics at all under my belt. I'm studying functional analysis, and I want to know whether or not this will be useful for me in theoretical physics ...
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0answers
49 views

What phenoma have “intuitive” explanations which are completely wrong? [closed]

Some phenomena in physics defy intuition. Others have very intuitive explanations which you could explain easily to a layman. Sometimes, these intuitive explanations are simply wrong. What phenomena ...
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0answers
38 views

Reasons to consider the coefficient of restitution velocity independent - conditions when this does apply

In high-school mathematics textbooks a bouncing ball is often considered as an example of an exponential decay. One can easily derive this if one assumes that the coefficient of restitution is ...
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0answers
58 views

Quantum Field Theory and Lie Theory [duplicate]

I am reading Vol.1 of "The Quantum Theory Of Fields" by S. Weinberg. However I have come to a halt when connected Lie groups were introduced. I have solid knowledge in elementary group theory and ...
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0answers
35 views

Layman explanation and demonstration of positive lightning

Inspired by the thunderstorm overhead, and after reading the question and answers Voltage and current of positive lightning - what is an effective means to explain this phenomenon to a layman? Also, ...
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0answers
117 views

Problem with (grad school) physics education? [closed]

(Just to anticipate, having looked at other closed threads about physics education, I don't think this question should be too opinion based or broad.) Since being in a lab now for a couple years, ...
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0answers
83 views

Differential Equations - Waves (Physics self-study suggestions) [closed]

I apologize ahead of time, in case this post is not allowed. After taking a few courses at a community college, I've taken the fall 2013 semester off (I was accepted into a university for the spring ...