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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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 study?...
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3answers
279 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, equilibrium,...
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1answer
673 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
316 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
349 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
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 I'...
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1answer
162 views

Elementary graphical error analysis

Suppose you analyze experimantal data with pencil and piece of paper, one simple method is to plot the data in a linearized way with error bars. Suppose you are interested in the slope of this linear ...
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2answers
139 views

Are Mathematics the language of the universe? [closed]

I am a high school student and next year i am going to be a physics major, so this year i put all my effort on physics and mathematics, since it a great tool for physicists. But now i wonder, in ...
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2answers
238 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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1answer
669 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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4answers
2k 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
70 views

Why does one use different materials for cathode and anode in the photoelectric effect experiment

All photoeletric lab experiments I have seen so far have a setup where you have different materials for cathode and anode. However this raises some experimental difficulties since you have to take ...
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2answers
82 views

Heuristic explanation of the difference between vectors and scalars in physics

I'm trying to give a student a (physically) intuitive, heuristic explanation as to why certain quantities are vectors and others are scalars. Here is what I have come up with: Scalars are quantities ...
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2answers
191 views

Are standing waves in water exact sine waves?

In many physics demonstrations waves in water are used to illustrate principles of standing waves and wave propagation. After such demonstrations, classes tend to move on to basic problems ...
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1answer
3k views

How to remember the Electromagnetic Spectrum?

This may sound off-topic but I am in a severe need of remembering the following shown Electromagnetic Spectrum along with the frequencies and wavelengths. So far I have looked at several mnemonics but ...
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1answer
122 views

What topics do I need to study electromagnetism on the quantum scale? [closed]

What topics do I need to study (in order) so that I can study electromagnetics on the quantum scale? What is the name of the discipline studying electromagnetism on the quantum scale? Do I need to ...
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3answers
900 views

Simple real-life examples of Fermi's golden rule?

I want to teach my students some simple applications of Fermi's Golden Rule. Unfortunately, most examples I can think of are in scattering theory, which they have not learned yet. Are there any ...
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2answers
108 views

Introducing angular momentum for the first time to a class

What is the best way to introduce the notion of angular momentum to a class without making it appear an unnecessary and artificial construction?
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1answer
117 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
1k 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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1answer
82 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
288 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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2answers
68 views

Computational advantages of various notations for electromagnetism [closed]

Most undergraduate electromagnetism classes and textbooks use vector notation to describe Maxwell's equations. However, there are other notations like differential geometry and geometric calculus ...
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1answer
172 views

Inaccuracy at measuring gravity constant with Cavendish experiment

For a scientific work for school I decided to measure the gravity constant with the Cavendish experiment. I set up a structure like the one suggested on this website: http://www.school-for-champions....
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1answer
221 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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2answers
915 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
704 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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1answer
42 views

Problem books for concept building in applications of Riemannian and other geometries to mechanics

As a student of physics I have learned solving Euler equations for rigid bodies by solving examples and exercises in self-contained books rather than understanding the proofs of Euler equations (I ...
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0answers
69 views

Self Learning Quantum Mechanics and QFT, how to? [closed]

I've searched the board and several threads were found, but they all were very old and closed. I'm interested in learning and understanding quantum mechanics, after that possibly also QFT. I have ...
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0answers
43 views

Direction about future [closed]

I am finishing high school this year and i want to be a theoretical physicist. My academic result in mathematics is not good throughout last 5 years. But physics is my dream. I want to overcome every ...
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0answers
98 views

What depth of learning must be achieved to sufficently understand advanced physics topics? [closed]

I was recently asked the following question by a friend of mine who is an undergraduate mathematics student, and I thought it would be beneficial to see what the members here have to say about it, as ...
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1answer
96 views

TQFT lectures with exercises

I'm interested in topological quantum field theory and study works of Witten and others by myself. Does anybody know where can I find any good exercises in this subject? By "good" I mean something ...
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0answers
56 views

What kind of math do I need got general relativity? [duplicate]

I'm 15 this year and have a passion in physics What kind of math do I need to tackle general relativity? Also what year in uni do we learn about general relativity?
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178 views

How do you explain special relativity to a 3 year old child? [closed]

I've been on multiple threads that attempt to explain this celebrated theory, but I have come across some rather complex threads that is very good if you are a physicist, but no one even attempts to ...
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0answers
113 views

Learning Roadmap to Mathematical Physics [duplicate]

Currently, I am a graduate student specializing in algebraic geometry. On the other hand, I have also become extremely interested in the mathematical physics. However, I am not sure what steps I ...
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0answers
185 views

Pedagogical projects in QFT for self-study purposes? [closed]

I'm reading Srednicki's QFT textbook. I'd like to do some projects that put the content learned into actual use. Is there any good project topic? I don't mind if it's already worked out some where. ...
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0answers
109 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
351 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
4k 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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3answers
29k views

Uses of vectors in real life [closed]

I always wonder how vectors are used in real life.Vectors and decomposition of vectors,dot and cross products are taught in the early stage in every undergraduate physics course and in every ...
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6answers
2k views

Recommended progression with which to learn physics for fun

I enjoy reading up on new topics in physics and astronomy, and learning the concepts and ideas in the major theories, like relativity and quantum mechanics. Unfortunately, one thing that I lack ...
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8answers
4k 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
256 views

What is a good way to reason in physics? [closed]

I have recently made the decision to study Physics seriously. However, in the past, I've had some difficulty with the subject because of my primarily mathematical background. I find that sometimes ...
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2answers
10k views

Best physics olympiad resources [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Book recommendations I am looking for good book recommendations at the level of high-school physics. I am having in mind to find out as to what are the typical books that ...
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4answers
596 views

Video documentaries about physics? [closed]

Does anyone know about good video documentaries about physics, possibly on YouTube? I've seen a couple of them about string theory, but I could not find many others.
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4answers
328 views

Does physics need an epsilon-delta definition for the concept of limit?

This question has been inspired by a question asked on Mathoverflow about "effectiveness of (epsilon, delta) definition". Most mathematicians have a strong opinion about the need of such definitions: ...
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2answers
875 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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3answers
935 views

Mathematics for Quantum Mechanics [duplicate]

What math should I study if I want to get a basic understanding of quantum mechanics and especially to be able to use the Schrodinger's equation.
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2answers
4k 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. ...