Electromagnetic Waves and Optics

May 2014

Professor Metzger has a habit of lecturing to the blackboard. Though he says that questions are welcome, he very rarely looks up from his notes long enough to see who has their hands raised, even immediately after he asks if there are questions. His presentation of the material is reasonably clear and he only makes a few minor errors in any given class. His motivation of the mathematical material is fairly compelling, but many of the derivations covered in this course are unavoidably long and tedious, so it is just not easy to maintain one's interest for the full lecture, given the detached manner in which Metzger lectures. There were absolutely zero in-class demonstrations for this course, despite the fact that it covers very accessible results in optics and electrodynamics. Overall, not a terrible concluding course for the intermediate physics sequence, but there is no getting around that this material is hard going. If you're studying physics, you'll have to take this course. If not, you probably shouldn't.

Jan 2012

Dear Professor Marka, Hi, remember me? I was in your 3008 Class. Yes, I was wondering where my grades were. You see, I spent a lot of time studying for your class, and you seemed to like teaching it, heck, you even took us up and let us watch you cut things with your laser cutter! But why, oh why Professor Marka, hasn't my grade been posted yet? Your lecture notes were a disorganized, your accent made you a little difficult to understand, but I grinned, and I bared it, Professor Marka! You see, I tried! I tried very hard to enjoy your class, professor! You explained to us the most interesting of modern physics experiments, you always explained how the concepts were relevant to everyday life; this could have even been a good CULPA review! It could have been! But no, Professor. After delivering our final exam grades just hours after the test was over, you have yet to post our semester grades. It has been four weeks, Professor. I have already begun learning newer physics; the applications of what you taught me! Just the way you wanted-- But still, not a grade in sight! Sincerely, A student

Apr 2009

Simply put: Matt is a brilliant TA! Not only can he answer pretty much any question you have about E+M, he is extremely nice and very approachable. His recitation sessions are for those who wish to have a deep and complete understanding of E+M. Also, he does more examples than the professor does in class, which also helps with learning how to approach certain problems. If you have him, be thankful because not many TA's are in the mood to help undergrads...

Dec 2006

Marka is a good professor overall. Good points: 1. Very entertaining, engaging professor. More classroom participation than normally expected in a physics lecture. 2. Very accessible, helpful with questions, knowledgeable about material. 3. Enthusiastic about material, decent pacing most of the time. Things that I didn't like: 1. The TA took forever to grade things. We didn't get midterm grades till nearly the end of the semester, and I think I only recovered 1 or 2 of the many graded problem sets (he took forever to grade those too.) 2. In class, Marka uses powerpoint slides a lot. This is good when you want to review material (he always posts them online) but bad because he never does the derivations for equations on the blackboard, which would have helped immensely. 3. Tests had a tendency to be very long. Only the final was of appropriate length. Overall, this was a good class that is significantly more difficult than W3003 and W3007.

Jan 2006

Professor Marka is a good teacher whose classes definitely offer something different than most physics professors at Columbia. For one, he actively encourages class participation. He usually began lectures by discussing a recent development in physics and asking us our opinion on it as well as thought-provoking questions. He was also highly enthusiastic about the physics he was teaching (a characteristic that most physics professors fail to convey). He devoted extra time to interesting concepts that are not usually taught, like rainbows and interferometry. Classes were done using a projector, and while I prefer to learn from a blackboard, this was not a serious impediment to learning the material. While he admits that the proofs of theorems arenÂ’t the most interesting part of the subject, class was usually interesting, though suffered from beginning at 9:30.

Jan 2006

Prof. Marka is a fine teacher who focuses heavily on applied sides rather than trying to teach as if Physics were literature (something many professors here does). The classes are interesting and does not require you to remember stuff that you will never need except for passing exams. Instead, he wants you to master the underlying physics of the experimental world. His exams are pretty easy, which means in class you can have a take it easy approach and rather than thinking about how to get an A can actually concentrate in the physics. I think any student, except for the few who do not care to attend the classes and then complain that he is vague, would love his teaching style.

Jan 2006

I think Professor Marka is the worst physics professor I have ever had, although you will find many who love him to death for reasons that are beyond me (I've heard everything from "ohh, he's a nice guy", to "he's better than Millis" which is NOT true). I had Brooijmans for 3007 and since he didn't say a sentence that wasn't in the textbook, I thought that was the worst it could get. Then I took Marka's class and after a few weeks ended up *wishing* he'd just recite from the textbook. The times when I actually went to class I would wait for him to explain something, but instead we would spend class time either looking at portriats of the physicists themselves, or else photographs of some experiment that used the techniques that we were supposed to be discussing. All I ever got from him was overview. Specifically, several of the classes later in the semester focused on irrelevant concepts: one entire class was devoted to laser safety; another class he showed only pictures of a vibrating guitar. Worst of all, when he actually did go through the math, it was all by powerpoint presentation - he never once - EVER - wrote on the actual board - he would just click a button and the equation would magically rearrange itself into the form he wanted it in (or rather, that the textbook author wanted it in) and he left it up to you to figure out the algebra later on your own. This is a fine technique if you are explaining principles (which, as I said before, is all he ever did), but horrible for actually teaching physics. Here's the kicker: in the review session for the final (which was, mind you, conducted by the TA), we all finally learned how to actually *use* the dipole and multipole formulas we'd been ostensibly studying for a semester. All the countless classes of useless talk by Prof. Marka amounted to our just being confused about what the hell was going on. The final itself was not only a joke, but - unbelieveably - he also called on us to identify those portraits for credit! He'd already done this on the midterm and we thought he was kidding when he said they'd be on the final - but we were wrong.

Jan 2003

Prof. Westerhoff is a competent lecturer and is always very well organized. No, he is not particularly animated and teaches with a no nonsense style. This, of course, is very much in tune with the material. Don't expect to be fascinated by the material in the way that you might expect from an introductory course. In other words, this is not a course you shop around for. If you're reading this review, then you are probably either a physics or applied physics major, in which case you won't have a choice in deciding whether or not to take this course. Thankfully, Westerhoff gets the job done as efficiently and as painlessly as the material permits. Note that he does not curve exams and grades on a scale that he himself deems fit. You have to more or less know your stuff to get an A, which isn't particularly easy since the material can get pretty involved. Also, the diffuculty of his exams can fluctuate significantly, so be wary.