Term comes to an end tomorrow, so here is a quick review of everything I have done in semester one so far and what I thought about it:
- Quantum Mechanics: I was a little intimidated by QM because students in the year above all said it was really hard. For this reason I did a lot of preparation before I started third year by reading through the recommended text book (Quantum Mechanics by Alistair I. M. Rae). I am pretty happy with this module and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. For anyone doing this module, I’d recommend spending extra time just understanding the content since it can get pretty weird. I covered this in more detail here.
- Radiation and Matter: Personally I didn’t find this module very interesting (this is just personal preference, many people I know preferred it to QM). However, units 1 and 2 were taught very well by Graham Wynn, and the whole module is taught at a very reasonable pace. I think the main reason I didn’t enjoy this module as much as I enjoyed QM was there was not a huge amount of new content.
- Mathematical Physics: Only MPhys students do this module, and its main purpose is to teach you the maths you will require for 4th year. I think the the first half of the module was taught better than the second half, but they supply you with a text book that outlines the whole module with examples and exercises. I am pretty happy with most of the content, but I still struggle with Fourier series – I hope I better understand it before my exam in January. To find out if you need to be good at maths to do a physics degree click here.
- Python: I am very glad I chose Python as my Speciality Elective, not only is it very well organised, it will also be very helpful if I do go on to do a PhD in theoretical astrophysics. I highly recommend everyone to do this as their speciality elective. You don’t need previous experience in python (I certainly didn’t) and it is a very useful skill to have. To hear more about speciality electives and my experience learning python click here.
- Life in the Universe: This was an unusual choice for me, at school I never particularly enjoyed biology, and A levels really put me off chemistry, and yet I chose to do a module that contained both of these subjects. However, I quite enjoyed learning this module because it actually goes pretty deep into the age old question: Are we alone in the Universe? To learn more about what I thought about this module click here.
- Active galaxies: Super massive black holes, jets firing material at close to the speed of light, and material that appears to move faster than the speed of light. These are just some of the things covered in this module. Black holes and galaxies are what many people find fascinating in astronomy. But I think if you are really passionate you want more than hand-wavy explanations of spaghettification and pretty pictures of galaxies. This course goes into the mathematics and physics behind the extreme behaviour going on inside active galaxies. Read more about how I found this module here.
“Mathematics began to seem too much like puzzle solving. Physics is puzzle solving, too, but of puzzles created by nature, not by the mind of man.”
-Maria Goeppert Mayer