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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What is the math knowledge necessary for starting Quantum Mechanics?

Could someone experienced in the field tell me what the minimal math knowledge one must obtain in order to grasp the introductory Quantum Mechanics book/course? I do have math knowledge but I must ...
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7answers
791 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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4answers
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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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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3answers
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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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2answers
9k 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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5answers
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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0answers
100 views

should I take notes in class [closed]

I'm taking a graduate physics class. I usually sit at the front and madly scribble down everything the teacher writes.... But the professor also publishes his notes on the internet. I find it ...
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2answers
1k views

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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2answers
328 views

Motivation for Potentials

This is a hypothetical question about "pedagogy". Let's say I am trying to take someone who has just a very small amount of knowledge about Newtonian mechanics and convince them that the Lagrangian ...
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5answers
2k views

Graduate School for Theoretical Physics

First off, let me just say that I am unsure if this question is appropriate for this site, and if the community deems it necessary, the question should be closed. So right now I am a fourth year ...
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1answer
210 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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2answers
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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4answers
320 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 ...
3
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1answer
471 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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2answers
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 ...
3
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1answer
242 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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7answers
6k views

What does it take to understand Maxwell's equations?

Assume I want to learn math and physics enough to reach a level where I understand Maxwell's equations (The terms and reasoning in the equations I.e. why they "work"). What would I have to learn in ...
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8answers
3k views

How does the earth move?

My son who is 5 years old is asking me a question about how the earth moves around the sun. What answer should I give him?
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3answers
13k views

Uses of Vectors In Real Life

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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1answer
69 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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0answers
104 views

Knowledge needed to study and understand general and special relativity theory [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the prerequisites to studying general relativity? I'am 27 now and i have a burning desire to study math and physics from the ground up and I strongly prefer ...
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8answers
10k views

What are the prerequisites to studying general relativity? [closed]

This question recently appeared on Slashdot: Slashdot posts a fair number of physics stories. Many of us, myself included, don't have the background to understand them. So I'd like to ask the ...
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2answers
238 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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2answers
6k views

Comparing scales of atomic level objects to scales of everyday size objects

I am trying to come up with everyday size objects comparisions of atomic scales items, e.g. if a proton probability cloud was of size basketball how far would the next atoms to it be? reason being is ...
3
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2answers
674 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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2answers
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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Lev Landau's “Theoretical Minimum”

The great russian physicist Lev Landau developed a famous entry exam to test his students. This "Theoretical Minimum" contained everything he considered elementary for a young theoretical physicist. ...
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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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2answers
202 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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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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10answers
5k views

What is a field, really?

There was a reason why I constantly failed physics at school and university, and that reason was, apart from the fact I was immensely lazy, that I mentally refused to "believe" more advanced stuff ...
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4answers
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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2answers
267 views

Physics Equivalent of Physical Chemistry (P-Chem) [closed]

Before I take P-Chem I would like to understand how physicists view the same material. What Physics course(s) should I take and/or books should I read to learn the same material from a physicist's ...
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6answers
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What is the simplest way to prove that the Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that the Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits ...
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11answers
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What is the simplest way to prove the Earth is round?

Assume you've come in contact with a tribe of people cut off from the rest of the world, or you've gone back in time several thousand years, or (more likely) you've got a numbskull cousin. How would ...
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3answers
26 views

What are good resources for someone looking to become an amateur astronomer?

What resources would you consider to be essential for an amateur astronomer?
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215 views

What age to start kids with astronomy [closed]

My son is getting interested in astronomy. I was thinking about getting him a scope when he gets a bit older, he is 4 now. At what age have other people gotten their kids telescopes? (I have a 10" dob ...
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4answers
1k views

What is the typical career path to become a professional Astronomer? [closed]

Here is a typical question which I have been asked many times while giving public lectures in various places. While I know one of the paths like Diploma, Masters and PhD but sometimes this is not so ...
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5answers
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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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2answers
538 views

Simulation of physics of chains/ropes in force fields resources?

I'm thinking about a project to tackle, and I'd like to make a simulation that allows the user to define a rope or chain of length L, pin it at arbitrary points r1, r2.... etc. and draw the resulting ...
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9answers
3k views

Should I begin to study quantum mechanics or wait until I have a stronger base on easier topics? [closed]

I apologize if this is off topic since it does not relate directly to the study of physics, but I could not think of a better place to ask. I am a high school student graduating in a few days and ...
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4answers
461 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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8answers
5k views

How do you explain spinning tops to a nine year old?

Why don't spinning tops fall over? (The young scientist version) My nine year old son asked me this very question when playing with his "Battle Strikers" set. Having studied Physics myself, I am very ...
3
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5answers
960 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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2answers
288 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
511 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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2answers
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 ...
3
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1answer
429 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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3answers
583 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 ...