Review Comment

Electricity & Magnetism

December 16, 2019

Mueller, Alfred
Electricity & Magnetism

It is hard to comment this course since your experience hinges on the amount of math you have learned. For those who are good at PDE and special function, Mueller will give you a lot of insights, and you will learn the connection between math and physics (For example, the spherical harmonic series Ylm stands for several electrical models, which are important in QM and classical field.) On the other hand, if you have not learned these things yet, it will be a pain in neck since Mueller won't go through details that he considers trivial, and you will need to read additional materials to improve your understanding. To make the matter worse, he does not have syllabus. However, Mueller is very nice and he is willing to explain everything if you go to his office hour or make appointment with him.

The lecture looks crazy and hard at the first place, but most of the content would not appear in the Midterm and Final (Mueller said he did not want it to be algebraic heavy). To be successful in this course, it is better to be familiar with multi-variable calculus (especially integral), some knowledge of PDE, and function expansion.

Workload:

It depends. Although Prof Mueller only has several ungraded psets, it will cost you a lot of time if you are not familiar with PDE and special function.

November 21, 2019

Levin, Janna
Electricity & Magnetism

Hard to get a hold of outside of class (won't meet with students 1 on 1, in my experience), so don't expect to talk to her if you can't go to her office hours(worth trying if you need to, but she tends to take a while to respond to emails and has students come up to discuss with her at the beginning of class instead of 1 on 1). I experienced her be both rude to me, and other students if we didn't already understand something. I wouldn't do work in front of her unless you are confident in your abilities she loves for students to work on the board, but isn't very supportive and I've seen her actively tear down students in front of the rest of those at the office hours (telling someone that if they didn't understand something they should've gone to help room months ago, isn't a great thing to say to someone before finals week, which happened multiple times).

She can sort of teach, uses the board and examples, but doesn't explain what she's doing that well, and sometimes makes mistakes that can make looking back at your notes confusing. I'd advise reading the book before class for sure, and doing problems on your own (lots of her exam problem questions come from tipler electricity and magnetism for scientists and engineers, which is on the shelves in altschul 514). Rely more on going to the help room and asking questions, or email the ta. In general very unaccommodating to any emergencies, she's your standard cold professor in regards to that.

If you're a premed, let her know, and ideally, suck up to her -she takes it well. If not, well, unless you want to say you love her books, maybe don't talk to her.

Workload:

Not unreasonable, problem set a week, and a few midterms with 3-4 problems.

May 23, 2017

Levin, Janna
Electricity & Magnetism

Least favorite prof I had all four years. She's pretentious, arrogant, mean spirited, rude, talks down to her students...has a total stick up her butt/thinks she's the most brilliant person to ever bless this planet. Acts like she's the sun, everything revolves around her (ha, get it? solar system joke). She constantly (I mean constantly) talks about herself, it's actually unreal. She absolutely picks favorited and if you aren't willing to suck up hella hard then she will actively dislike you. Real bummer of a semester to be honest.

Workload:

Heavy but doable!

March 24, 2017

Levin, Janna
Electricity & Magnetism

Janna Levin is narcissistic, self-obsessed, and arrogant. She constantly talks about herself...literally constantly. I don't need to hear 10 billion times that she gave a TED talk, ect. And you know she loves hearing herself talk. She repeatedly attempts to reaffirm that she's the smartest person in the room...I swear sometimes she would intentionally use big words in an attempt to sound smart/belittle you, but honestly it was just annoying. She expects everyone to be obsessed with her and she picks obvious favorites. She holds it against you if you don't constantly tell her how awesome, smart, inspiring she is. It's ironic that she's an astrophysicist because she believes the world (and probably the sun for that matter) revolves around her and only her. If you're up for sucking up then you'll probably get along great. If you're like me and just want to learn the material without the need to be a fangirl, then good luck. I did fine in her class so don't worry about how hard she is too much, I just think her personality is a distraction to learning/enjoying the material.

Workload:

Hard but doable

November 11, 2014


Electricity & Magnetism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Janna Levin is a rockstar! She explains physics in a clear, concise way. She teaches you how to derive all the equations you need, so the physics actually MAKES SENSE, as opposed to professors that just make you memorize equations. Her office hours are incredibly helpful. She will make you do the problem at the board so you have to think through it logically, and she never makes you feel stupid. I loved this class, shes the best physics professor I have had thus far.

Workload:

1 problem set a week (doable), 2 quizzes, 2 midterms, and a final. Very fair.

August 26, 2014

Levin, Janna
Electricity & Magnetism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Woah.

This professor is what college is all about. She absolutely dominates lectures -- by far the best lecturer I've ever had. If you want a taste of her lecture style, you can check out her various Ted talks or interviews with NPR or Radiolab because she's ~*famous*~. If you watch these, however, be warned that there is a very large possibility of exhibiting fan girl syndrome.

Not only is she a powerful presence, but she also puts things in context, uses examples, starts from scratch, answers questions, interacts, makes jokes... One way to convey her teaching style is her disdain for memorization -- if you're work is grounded in reason, there is no need to memorize equations. You will be able to derive them all from scratch. You will fall in love with Physics just as quickly as you fall in love with her.

It doesn't stop at her lectures -- she goes above and beyond to make Physics not only an area of study, but an ardent passion of her students. For the first ten minutes of every class, she lets students ask any question about the universe... ANYTHING AT ALL!! AND SHE ANSWERS IT!!! Her specialty is theoretical physics, and these conversations get so mind-blowing and philosophical, you will want to march straight to the registrar and change your major to this beautiful subject. These little sessions are what taught me that Physics is the language of the entire universe, which is sometimes hard to see when you're poring over tedious problem sets... they served as quick introductions to topics such as quantum physics, black holes (her specialty), space time, inflation theory and the multiverse... the list goes on.

Despite all the wonderful things I have said, this is what I appreciated most about Professor Levin: after each class, she held office hours which you could go to and stumble through homework problems with her watching and guiding and explaining your mistakes away. Despite the fact that I didn't have any problems with the class, I went to these office hours religiously because of her thorough explanations, and interesting tangents. I'm not sure if there was a curve, but I certainly didn't need one because of how well I understood the material by the end of the semester.

This class is a pinnacle example of how awesome Barnard is. Here is this famous and successful physicist that knows your name and takes time out of her day to help you GET THINGS. At the risk of sounding like a self-help book... getting an A is not the goal, learning is.

Here's a little about me, so you can see how your experience might relate to mine. Barnard was my first exposure to Physics -- somehow I missed out on that in high school. Despite my newfound love for the subject, I am not a Physics major. I am, however, quite fond of quantitative subjects, and have an excellent Calculus background (took calc 1, 2, and 3), which was extremely relevant to the class... especially Calc 3. I got an A in this class, but I by no means thought this class was easy; I invested a lot of time into problem sets. That being said, largely due to Professor Levin's inspiring lectures, I ended up loving the material and (dare I say?) enjoying doing the problem sets. Something I should also mention is that not everyone I talked to felt as enchanted by this class as I do (and admittedly, I set a high enchantment threshold), but I think complaints mostly had to do with workload.

Workload:

One problem set a week that concerns the topics discussed in class (going to recitation will answer a few of these problems for you) with 10-15 problems.. quite difficult but manageable. Doing these make other components of the class easier.
One midterm.. pretty manageable assuming you are keeping up with material
A couple of quizzes.. also pretty manageable if you keep up with material
A final.. study for a couple days and this will be manageable too

May 15, 2011

Levin, Janna
Electricity & Magnetism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This semester was so much harder than the first semester (Mechanics). It also involves a lot more calculus (last semester was mostly easy derivatives, this semester we had to do legit integrations). I know a lot of people have written that Janna Levin seems arrogant, but I didn't feel like that was the case. I felt that she was just a person who enjoyed talked about her work and experiences (and happened to do a lot of really cool things). While she isn't the best at explaining things in lecture, she's more than happy to go over anything during office hours over and over until you understand.

Workload:

Weekly problem sets (7-8 questions), 2 quizzes, midterm and final

May 21, 2006

Brooijmans, Gustaaf
Electricity & Magnetism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Great professor, helpful in office hours, very reasonable workload, nice tests/exams. If you're not in a physics heavy major then chances are you might not take a class of his, but if you do have a class taught by him you will most likely enjoy it.

Also, he has a fantastic accent.

Workload:

Very Reasonable.

April 21, 2003

Westerhoff, Stefan
Electricity & Magnetism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Westerhoff is a very kind and caring man, and is willing to put a lot of time and effort into helping students do well. Unfortunately, he finds the subject unbearably boring and this really shows in his lectures. He copies his lecture notes very neatly onto the board, but since he can copy a derivation faster than a person can follow it, it can be hard to keep up. In the end the result will get a box around it, and you can just use the final formulas to do all the homework even if you didn't understand how they came about, but the class never really sang to me. I think it's really discouraging when even the professor doesn't find what he's doing interesting.

Workload:

Weekly homework, two midterms, and a final. Around 5, maybe 10 hours of work a week depending on how good you are.

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