This is a soft question. I'm not sure if it is appropriate for this site. Would someone who is only interested in string theory benefit from working out the problems in Jackson electrodynamics? I have to decide if I should take a graduate course in electrodynamics that uses Jackson. Would that be a waste of time? I think that it would be most suitable to engineers but I'm not sure. Do you think that an undergraduate course would be sufficient? I'm going to specialize in Theoretical high energy physics.

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    $\begingroup$ What does it mean to be only interested in string theory? $\endgroup$ – Matt Reece Aug 29 '12 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry , I mean I'm mostly interested in string theory and want to specialize in it . I'm not interested in experimental physics or engineering , so the question is that if studying jackson would help me in my study . $\endgroup$ – jack Aug 29 '12 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @jack, that is like saying; since you want to build a skyscraper, you are wondering if you really have to study differential calculus $\endgroup$ – lurscher Aug 29 '12 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ As you can see from Prof. t'Hooft s advising site here, one should learn about all "more basic" parts of theoretical physics (such as electrodynamics, statistical mechanics, QM, relativity, etc) first before getting to string theory. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 30 '12 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to Zweibach, this basic technical introduction can probably satisfy your curiousity too if you are impatient ;-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 30 '12 at 13:04

I don't think you can really properly graduate physics without studying Jackson (or equivalent). Classical Electrodynamics is not "only for engineers", but a basic prerequisite for almost every other branch of physics.

For instance, how can you properly understand field theory, when you've never seen Maxwell's equations in their non-tensor form? How well would you understand the concept of a propagator without first seeing how to use a Green's function? Sure you can study string theory without knowing anything about practically anything else (with is I suspect, one of the field's attractions), but you'd end up with an awfully poor education.

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    $\begingroup$ And with that as an aside, if you just want to learn the basics of string theory at a non-research, survey level, and only with bosonic strings, there's Zweibach's book. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Schirmer Aug 29 '12 at 18:19

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