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Kevin Zhou

Physics graduate student

Stanford University

Biography

I’m a graduate student interested in particle phenomenology and physics education. I spent two years in the UK as a Marshall scholar, and am currently beginning a PhD at Stanford in 2019 funded by an NSF Graduate Research fellowship. A complete CV is available here.

I got started by devouring the scifi section of my local public library, but it wasn’t until watching Particle Fever in college that I knew what I wanted to be. I find nothing more thrilling than the process of scientific discovery, whether it’s the “aha!” moment of a single student or the collective effort of the entire physics community, and I hope to be a lifelong participant as a professor of physics.

Interests

  • Beyond the Standard Model
  • Dark matter
  • Collider physics

Education

  • PhD (in progress)

    Stanford

  • MSc MTP, 2019

    Oxford

  • MASt in Mathematics, 2018

    Cambridge

  • BSc in Physics and Mathematics, 2017

    MIT

Lecture Notes

These are the notes I’ve taken while learning physics. They’re very compact and don’t usually correspond closely with any particular course; instead they’re packed full of all the neat things I’ve found reading books. Currently they weigh in at about 1,500 pages and 600,000 words.

Basics

These notes summarize foundational material. They roughly cover both the MIT undergraduate sequence and Part I and II of the Cambridge physics sequence.

Breadth

These notes give a little bit of background on a wide variety of fields, and are aimed at the late undergraduate level.

Depth

These notes focus on my own field of particle physics, following courses taught at Cambridge’s Part III and Oxford’s MMathPhys.

Tutoring

I offer tutoring for the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) and the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO). I competed at the IPhO in 2012 and 2013 and taught at the US Physics Team training camp in 2015 through 2017.

The tutoring program is designed for students aiming for gold medals at the USAPhO or IPhO. It is based on learning by problem solving. During the training, students receive weekly handouts containing about 30 questions, which are discussed at an online meeting. At the end of the year, there are also several graded practice USAPhOs and review sessions. Most of the learning is self-driven: rather than lecturing at you, I will typically give a short introduction to each problem set and refer you to relevant textbook chapters to read on your own.

The full curriculum is about 30 weeks long, though students can choose any subset or order they wish. The typical time commitment is 8–15 hours per week. For details, see the syllabus.

The tutoring program is pitched at a high level; for context, see the problem sets for Mechanics IV and Electromagnetism V. I expect students to be comfortable with calculus-based mechanics and electromagnetism, and with qualifying for the USAPhO. For more introductory training, you can ask me to refer you to another tutor, or consider the PhysicsWOOT program by Art of Problem Solving. Another good resource is Physics (5th edition) by Halliday, Resnick, and Krane.

I’ve already taken students for the 2019–2020 program, which will run until March. If you’d like to be considered anyway, you can fill out an application, but you’ll only get a spot if somebody else drops out. For logistical details, such as how to apply, see the FAQ.

Writing

Learning

A lot of people ask me for advice for learning physics or preparing for the F=ma and USAPhO exams. Here’s a summary of what I know.

Expository

Below are some expository works on physics, at both the popular and technical level.

  • Cosmological Relaxation. A dissertation written for the Oxford MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, covering models that “relax” the Higgs boson’s mass. Also contains musings on model building and the precise meaning of naturalness and fine-tuning.
  • The Meaning of Nothing. The New College Demuth prize essay, on how theoretical stories map onto reality, and why a physicist’s philosophical flexibility is a useful tool.

Contact

I’m active (perhaps too active) on Physics StackExchange. If you want to chat, feel free to email or ping me in the h bar.