A Survival Guide for Physics Undergraduates. Giving you the inside scoop so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Helpful Groups to Join
The Society for Women in the Physical Sciences (SWPS): We’re it! We offer a mentoring program which matches 4 physics/astro/geo undergrads with a grad student mentor for monthly get togethers to discuss life in these departments. This program also organizes monthly events which focus on women’s issues in the physical sciences. To join or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or see the website at: http://swps.berkeley.edu.
Society of Physics Students (SPS): Feel lost in the department? You’ll never be lonely at SPS. The environment is very welcoming and you’ll meet other people in your classes (which, by the way, is crucial in upper division courses). SPS offers tutoring, informal peer advising, special lectures for undergraduates, lab tours, student/faculty mixers, industry speakers, social events, job and internship information, test files, national membership to the American Physics Society (APS), and more. These services are available for all students. To get info about SPS events and to get on the mailing list, visit the SPS office in 275 L.C. or see their website at http://sps.berkeley.edu.
Tea & Cookies: Monday before colloquium at around 3:30 PM in 375 LC. This is the place to really feel part of the physics community. You’ll see other students, your TA’s, professors, and colloquia speakers. You can meet all these people there, or just go and stare at them…
SPS Office: What in LeConte could possibly be more social? Stop by 275 L.C. anytime. They’ve got snacks!
Reading Room: While it sounds awfully geeky, the Reading Room (251 LeConte) is the social center of undergraduate life here. It’s a good place to find people to work with on problem sets and is one of the few study spots on campus that is always open. Physics students being physics students, this turns it into a great place to make friends.
Physics Department Colloquia: A weekly meeting of the entire department to hear scientists from around the country lecture on areas of current research in physics. Every Monday at 4:00 PM in 1 LeConte. Please, do yourself a favor, and get acquainted with these. Yes, you’ll only be able to understand a small percentage of the material, but each talk will open your eyes to a certain field of certain field of physics. It’ll get you used to these types of gatherings (which you’ll eventually be going to all the time,) you’ll pick up terms, you’ll form questions which you can later discuss with other students or professors, and you’ll see the physics community at it’s best. A listing of colloquia speakers and topics is posted in the LeConte elevator, on the physics department website (www.physics.berkeley.edu), and on the bulletin board outside 366 L.C.
SPS Undergraduate Lectures: SPS sponsors various lectures which are aimed at undergraduates. The professors who give these tone down their technicality level to really explain their research without losing the flavor. The Pre-colloquia enlist that day’s speaker to prepare undergraduates for the colloquium; The Applied and Biological Physics Seminars explore the interaction between physics and other fields; The Industrial Lectures will usually feature an alum of the department discussing how they used physics in industry. Lunch is usually served, and it’s a great way to figure out what research you’re interested in and see what your professors do the rest of the week.
Physics 24: Weekly freshman seminar. Offered both in the Fall and Spring. >Topics vary depending on who teaches the class. In the past, the topic most frequently taught is “The Big Bang and the Early Universe.” Contact Claudia Trujillo in the Student Services Office (368 LeConte) for more info.
Physics H190: Honors course open to everyone (not just honors students). It’s sort of like a seminar. Every year a different professor teaches it, and it changes quite a bit depending on whom. Find out who’s doing it and go talk to them about their plans for the class. It’s only offered in the Spring Semester.
Physics 198 &199: Get credit for a research project you may be working on. Talk to your professor/advisor about it.
Physics 251: Weekly seminar for graduate students to introduce them to the research groups in the department. Each week a different professor talks about his work. You can find a schedule of speakers (posted outside 366 L.C. or obtain a copy of this schedule in 368 L.C.) and attend the ones you want. You may find it very useful in figuring out what you’re interested in. You don’t have to be a grad student (nor enrolled) to attend. Offered only in the fall.
Physics 290 Series: Weekly seminars on a field of physics or astronomy (e.g. solid-state seminar, atomic seminar, etc.) A schedule can be found on the physics website, in the LeConte elevator, and on the bulletin board outside 366 L.C. You don’t have to be a grad student to enroll and you don’t have to understand everything. Remember, it’s all about getting exposure in order to develop your interests. Warning: these tend to be more technical than the colloquia.
Machine Shop Class
Learn how to make your own tools and how to use the lathe, drill press, etc. These skills can get you a starting job with a research group. The class is self-paced, and you put in time when you have it. Joseph in the machine shop guides you through the steps and you do the work. It’s a lot of fun and you get to keep what you make. Although it’s free to you, you do need a professor sponsor to take the class. If you don’t have an advisor, see Claudia Trujillo (see below for information on this really useful person) in 368 LeConte. Start by picking up a sign-up card from Joseph in the graduate student shop (118 LeConte).
Here’s how to get there. Usually on the 3rd floor L.C. but now housed in the Hearst Field Annex buildings. Phone it 643-3122 or surf to atwww.lib.berkeley.edu/PHYS
There are many resources available at the physics library. Please, do yourself a favor and learn about them!
Journal Racks: In the back of the library. Browse by there once in a while. Get acquainted with what’s being published. You can find information on all the different journals on the Physics Library web sitehttp://www.lib.berkeley.edu/PHYS. You can also contact the physics reference librarian, Diane Fortner at 643-7662 (she knows everything). Some journals more comprehensive to the average undergrad are: Scientific American, Physics Today, Undergraduate Research Journal, Nature. There is also a Berkeley research journal which you can get published in called Berkeley Scientific (available at the SPS office).
Useful Reference Books: All of the books below are on reserve at the front desk and are some of the most useful physics books out there.
Feynmann’s Lectures on Physics. Read these at any stage of your education. You’ll get so much out of them each time.
Griffiths’s Quantum and E&M books: He’s clear and he’s got a sense of humor.
Schaum’s Mathematical Handbook: You’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
Horowitz & Hill “The Art of Electronics” : Anything you ever need to know about electronic devices is in here.
Gradshteyn and Ryzhik “Table of Integrals, Series, and Products”: It’s very helpful for those heinous integrals on problem sets.
CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics: Lots of useful information!
People to know
Female Faculty in the Department
King of the 111 Lab: Don Orlando