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physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:22 pm
by suckatphysics
This is a silly question, but I was just wondering if at the end of your undergrad career in physics, could you all just open up your lower division book to any problem at the end of a chapter and answer it no problems. Could you do the same for something like Griffith's e&m? Is that something expected of a student who wants to attend graduate school?

I'm asking because I tutor in our physics tutorial lab on campus and I do struggle sometimes with problems that I feel I should be answering with no hesitation and I get down on myself because of it.

Thanks a lot for any responses. Happy '09 to everyone.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:57 pm
by trani
I don't think I can answer/solve every question in my lower division book and I most definitely cannot solve every problem in Griffiths E&M. I will try to work on that though before prelims time comes around. That is if accepted, of course...

If you want to go to grad school just apply and let them decide whether you are fit to go or not. That is their job...

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:39 pm
by admissionprof
I have TAUGHT from Griffith's E&M book, many times, and still don't think I could answer all of the questions. And please don't even ask about Jackson....

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:49 pm
by Juston
And there's that one problem (6.11 b) in the Griffiths Quantum Mechanics book where he asks you to derive the fine structure constant from first principles.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:38 pm
by trani
Hahaha, I remember that one :lol: at least he warns you...

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:55 pm
by PoincareSection
Man, I love Griffiths

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:25 pm
by Ren
PoincareSection wrote:Man, I love Griffiths


yeah :D
One time I was laughing while reading Griffith's book, and my friend asked me what I was reading.
I told her it's a physics textbook, and she looked at me like I'm crazy.
Well, it was funny :lol:

If you mean the intro physics part, then maybe I can answer most of the problems. Maybe some part from the modern physics text as well. But for sure I can't answer ALL of Griffith's E&M problems. Not even close.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:33 pm
by stardust
I got a funny story too. One time I went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. He asked me what
I was studying in school and I said physics. And he wrote down 'phys ed' in my records. And that's
the guy that gives hearing tests. I think it was just that to him it was more believable that someone
would study phys ed than physics.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:58 am
by PoincareSection
stardust wrote:I got a funny story too. One time I went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. He asked me what
I was studying in school and I said physics. And he wrote down 'phys ed' in my records. And that's
the guy that gives hearing tests. I think it was just that to him it was more believable that someone
would study phys ed than physics.

One time I told some guy in the library that I was studying cosmology and he asked me if I made good money by putting makeup on people. I didn't know if I should laugh or be offended....

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:39 am
by YF17A
That mistake is more common than you think...my friend, who is doing Part III at Cambridge and will be doing a Ph.D. in math at MIT, thought "cosmetology" was "cosmology" in 10th grade.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:27 am
by astrofan
Just wanted to add my two cents. Classical mechanics gets overlooked because the concepts are easy. Sure, I can do just about every problem in my intro physics book, but the last couple problems in several of the chapters are challenging. Took me a long while to solve some of them (I really enjoy classical mechanics problems so I decided to try the hardest ones during the summer).

My intermediate level text book, I could only do about half to 3/4 of the problems on my own. Forget Goldstein; my Prof only had us do the easy and intermediate difficulty problems in that book. The hardest problems are both time consuming and extemely challengin. Clearly not as hard as the other subjects, but still challenging I think.

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:12 am
by Helio
One of the postdocs I worked with once, told me:

After your Bachelor you feel like you know everything
After your Masters you feel like you nothing
After your PhD you feel like you nothing, but you have to seem like you know everything

Re: physics knowledge at end of undergraduate

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:34 am
by pqortic
of course you are not supposed to be able o solve all the textbooks problem at the end of the undergrad. however, you should be able to use the textbooks effectively to find an answer.