Questions that ask about some aspect of physics research or study which doesn't involve the actual physics. In general, soft questions can be answered without using physical reasoning.

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22
votes
9answers
5k views

How should a physics student study mathematics? [closed]

Note: I will expand this question with more specific points when I have my own internet connection and more time (we're moving in, so I'm at a friend's house). This question is broad, involved, and ...
7
votes
8answers
8k views

Which Mechanics book is the best for beginner in math major?

I'm a bachelor student majoring in math, and pretty interested in physics. I would like a book to study for classical mechanics, that will prepare me to work through Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. ...
6
votes
4answers
942 views

Misused physics analogies [closed]

Have you noticed that many questions and misconceptions in physics arise due to misuse of analogies, which were invented to "explain in simple words" some physical phenomena? For example there is a ...
25
votes
13answers
5k views

Comprehensive book on group theory for physicists?

I am looking for a good source on group theory aimed at physicists. I'd prefer one with a good general introduction to group theory, not just focusing on Lie groups or crystal groups but one that ...
6
votes
3answers
10k views

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 ...
16
votes
7answers
4k views

How to learn physics effectively and efficiently [closed]

How do you effectively study physics? How does one read a physics book instead or just staring at it for hours? (Apologies in advance if the question is ill-posed or too subjective in its current ...
12
votes
11answers
20k views

How do you start self-learning physics [closed]

I think this question has its place here because I am sure some of you are "self-taught experts" and can guide me a little through this process. Considering that : I don't have any physics scholar ...
10
votes
9answers
1k views

Why beauty is a good guide in physics? [closed]

Dirac once said that he was mainly guided by mathematical beauty more than anything else in his discovery of the famous Dirac equation. Most of the deepest equations of physics are also the most ...
21
votes
14answers
3k views

Learning physics online?

I'm thinking of following some kind of education in physics online. I have a master degree in Computer Science and have reasonable good knowledge in physics. I would like a program of 1-2 years and ...
54
votes
2answers
8k views

Reading the Feynman lectures in 2012

The Feynman lectures are universally admired, it seems, but also a half-century old. Taking them as a source for self-study, what compensation for their age, if any, should today's reader undertake? ...
18
votes
8answers
11k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
463 views

How can you test what color different people perceive? [closed]

If I would show someone a yellow object and ask them, "is this object yellow?" That person would say "yes". But I could never know if my perception of the color yellow is the same as that other ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
25
votes
6answers
2k views

Canonical everyday-life example of a technology that could not work without humans mastering QM in analogy to the application of GR in GPS?

The GPS is a very handy example in explaining to a broad audience why it is useful for humanity to know the laws of general relativity. It nicely bridges the abstract theory with daily life ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Is physics rigorous in the mathematical sense?

I am a student studying Mathematics with no prior knowledge of Physics whatsoever except for very simple equations. I would like to ask, due to my experience with Mathematics: Is there a set of ...
7
votes
4answers
988 views

Study Quantum Physics

I'm an aspiring physicist who wants to self study some Quantum Physics. My thirst for knowledge is unquenchable and I can not wait 2 more years until I get my first quantum physics class in ...
5
votes
2answers
462 views

What is the significance of Lie groups $SO(3)$ and $SU(2)$ to particle physics?

I was hoping someone could give an overview as to how the Lie groups $SO(3)$ and $SU(2)$ and their representations can be applied to describe particle physics? The application of Lie groups and their ...
9
votes
10answers
2k views

Physics for mathematicians

How and from where does a mathematician learn physics from a mathematical stand point? I am reading the book by Spivak Elementary Mechanics from a mathematicians view point. The first couple of pages ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Are quantum mechanics calculations useful for engineering?

I heard it's is pretty tough to get results for more than a few quantum particles. Are quantum mechanical calculations useful at all for any technology that is being sold? Or do they use ...
4
votes
5answers
764 views

Laws and theories

What is a physical law, a theory, and what is the relationship among them? I know this is a very basic question, so any reference to epistemology will be greatly appreciated :)
2
votes
1answer
388 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... ...
0
votes
2answers
875 views

Level of calculus required for physics [closed]

First time for me here so kindly let me know if I violate the rules - especially if this is a duplicate. After reading the page how to become a good theoretical phycist, I started a serious revision ...
0
votes
0answers
104 views

Prerequisites for QFT? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Book recommendations Is there a book that covers everything you need to know (and possibly more) before starting a course on QFT. Alternatively, I need a list of what ...
20
votes
8answers
3k views

Starting a physics Ph.D. at 60?

Decades ago I was in a physics Ph.D. program, made a hash of things, and quite rightly was dropped from the program. Since then I've had a very satisfying career as a computer programmer, and picked ...
6
votes
9answers
3k views

What are the most important discoveries/breakthroughs in physics recently?

Can you provide a list of the most important discoveries/breakthroughs in physics recently? By recent, I mean the past decade or so. All branches of physics are welcome. Basically, I am interested in ...
6
votes
2answers
873 views

Book covering Topology required for physics and applications

I am a physics undergrad, and interested to learn Topology so far as it has use in Physics. Currently I am trying to study Topological solitons but bogged down by some topological concepts. I am not ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

What came first, Rice Crispy or “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop”? [closed]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth derivatives of position are called "Snap" "Crackle" and "Pop". What came first, the rice crispy characters, or the physics units?
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Why do physicists believe that there exist magnetic monopoles?

One thing I've heard stated many times is that "most" or "many" physicists believe that, despite the fact that they have not been observed, there are such things as magnetic monopoles. However, I've ...
7
votes
4answers
590 views

Church-Turing hypothesis as a fundamental law of physics

The Church-Turing hypothesis says one can not build a computing device which has more computing power (in terms of computability) than the abstract model of Turing machine. So, there is something in ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Popular books on QM

After some discussions with my friend about some "popular" aspects of quantum mechanics, my friend asked me whether there exist any books that could convey the basic ideas in a non-technical way (my ...
4
votes
3answers
320 views

How to tell whether a physics theory is beautiful?

A lot of physicists would have agreed that General Relativity is a beautiful theory. My question is that, what really makes a physics theory beautiful? Is there any criteria that a theory must ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

What happens when we cut objects?

What is the role of the molecular bonds in the process of cutting something? What is the role of the Pauli exclusion principle, responsible for the "hardness" of matter? Moreover, is all the energy ...
4
votes
5answers
734 views

Regarding string theory: how to refute the argument “if it cannot be tested experimentally then it is not science”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What differs string theory from philosophy or religion? I find a lot of people disbelieve in string theory, saying that since it cannot be tested experimentally then it ...
4
votes
4answers
669 views

Is it possible to restart formal higher education in physics at a later age? [closed]

I would begin by apologizing for a soft question. Reading the FAQ, I have tried to formulate my question precisely in the last paragraph and you may skip the following paragraph where I make ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

If I move a long solid stick can I send message fastest than light? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it possible for information to be transmitted faster than light? I mean by using a perfect solid stick long enough and moving it forward and backward can I send ...
2
votes
5answers
823 views

Do perfect spheres exist in nature?

Often in physics, Objects are approximated as spherical. However do any perfectly spherical objects actually exist in nature?
1
vote
1answer
162 views

Are there any good audio recordings of educational physics material?

I am studying to return to school in physics and would like to start spending as much time as possible on that task. Most of my small amount of free time, however, I am either doing house work or ...
0
votes
1answer
172 views

How to know if something is a primitive concept, a law, a definition or a theorem

Some basic Physics books are often misguiding in the sense that they don't make clear whether something is a primitive concept, a law, a definition or a theorem. This is often a little confusing. I've ...
0
votes
2answers
190 views

What is the required prerequisite knowledge of QM, for starting QFT?

As a physics bsc student, I have a very limited knowledge of QM: Dirac formalism, Schrodinger equation and simple solutions (oscillators, particle in a given potential, hydrogen-like atom etc). There ...
16
votes
9answers
3k views

Books that develop interest & critical thinking among high school students

I heard about Yakov Perelman and his books. I just finished reading his two volumes of Physics for Entertainment. What a delightful read! What a splendid author. This is the exact book I've been ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

Where should a physicist go to learn chemistry?

I took an introductory chemistry course long ago, but the rules seemed arbitrary, and I've forgotten most of what I learned. Now that I have an undergraduate education in physics, I should be able to ...
11
votes
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 ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Is it possible to work on physics independently outside academia?

The traditional physics career is an academic job at some university, with the eventual goal of becoming a tenured professor. Is it possible for a mostly self-educated outsider working outside ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

What does Peter Parkers formula represent?

Okay, so the trailer for the new Spider Man movie is out and appearently our friendly physicist from the neightborhood came up with something. However I can't find out what this is. ...
7
votes
2answers
351 views

Understanding Cherns-Simons-Witten Theory

I want to read about Wittens work, on Cherns-Simons theory, and relations to knots and jones polynomials. I am extremely motivated to read his paper: Quantum Field Theory and Jones polynomial. What ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
606 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Which is more fundamental, Fields or Particles?

I hope that I am using appropriate terminology. My confusion about quantum theory (beyond my obvious unfamiliarity with its terminology) is basically twofold: I lack an adequate understanding of ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the best open-access journals in physics?

I would like to support open-access journals by choosing to publish in journals which allow readers free online access. Ideally I would also like to retain copyright instead of signing it over to ...
12
votes
17answers
3k views

Can pure maths create new theories in physics or does the “idea” ALWAYS come before the math?

I am in a debate with a friend about the value of string theory in physics. He is concerned that we are wasting valuable intellectual and financial resources on a path that is fanciful and can't ever ...