Physics exam topics

The goal of this part of the interview is to ensure that all graduate students begin with a good grasp of basic physics at the undergraduate level. During your exam 3 topics will be picked at random and you are expected to present each of these topics briefly, with the relevant equations. Even if you feel quite confident, you should definitely plan on doing some preparatory revision.

  • Section A (Classical Mechanics)
    1. The spherical pendulum
    2. The small oscillations approximation and normal modes
    3. The two-body problem
    4. Equivalence of mass and energy in special relativity
  • Section B (Electromagnetism and Thermal Physics)
    1. Motion of charged particles in electromagnetic fields
    2. Electromagnetic waves in vacuum
    3. Statistical origins of the laws of thermodynamics
    4. Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distributions
  • Section C (Quantum Mechanics)
    1. The Schrödinger equation and the interpretation of the wave function
    2. Observables in quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    3. Quantum description of the hydrogen atom
    4. The quantum harmonic oscillator