I had Bruisma for 2 consecutive quarters (105A&B). Here are some things to consider before taking a class with "Ze Flying Dutchman". Pros: Prof. Bruinsma is the BEST lecturer I have encountered so far in my time at UCLA, or anywhere else for that matter. He genuinely wants you to learn, and will answer any question have about the material, regardless of how obvious/trivial until he is satisfied you understand. The tests are all curved with the average roughly set at a B-. (May not sound like a good thing, but when 60% on an exam gets you an A, it is.) His Dutch accent provides endless entertainment. (Don't worry, he's not difficult to understand.) Cons: The tests are all curved with the average roughly set at a B-. His tests are hard. Very hard. Every midterm had an average of 40-50%. He's a mathematical bad-ass, and tends to forget that undergrads typically aren't. Whatever subject the class is, you can be sure he will find every possible example that relates back to Holland or was discovered by some other crazy Dutchman. My opinion: Yes, his classes are hard, but they're hard for everyone. Since it's curved, all you have to do is beat the curve. No physics professor is going to just give away A's. Might as well take him, have an awesome, entertaining lecturer who will actually teach you something.
I would not recommend Prof. Fronsdal. The two main problems are 1) the material and 2) communicating with him. 1) In 105B, he did cover what most 105B classes generally would cover: Hamiltonian mechanics, collisions and Conservation of Momentum, gravitation and Kepler's Laws, scattering theory, special relativity, 4-vectors. However, in about 3, 4 weeks in, he introduces group theory (from Math 110A) and attempts to review some concepts from linear algebra (while bungling up various definitions) and differential geometry (generators of infinitesimal translations, rotations, etc.). The class takes a turn for the worse from that point on. If you want to cover topics sufficiently for usage in other classes (such as scattering theory for Physics 126), then you're stuck resorting to the not-so-great textbook that Fronsdal only refers to once a week (Marion and Thornton, Classical Mechanics). 2) Communicating with him is a problem. He wears a hearing aid, and I know it can't be helped, but . I attended his office hours almost weekly for homework questions. He will answer nearly anything you throw at him, but you'll find yourself raising your voice to the point where the rest of the faculty in the PAB 4th floor theory cluster will hear you. This is even worse in class when people attempt to ask him questions, and it may take as many as 2, 3 minutes to get the whole question across before he starts to address it. In the past several quarters that he's taught this class (the 105AB sequence), I feel like the students were lucky enough to have decent/good TAs who knew their material well or would invest their own time to consult Fronsdal on any mix-ups or anything simply not understood, and relay the message back to the students. He has a very generous grading curve, but don't let that fool you into thinking you'll get that much out of the class otherwise.
Fall 2020 - Note: took this class under remote conditions; hopefully, the reader is taking it in-person :) TLDR: Gelmini wants everyone to learn and is quite helpful but her exams are freaking impossible. Professor Gelmini is very enthusiastic and is always looking to help as much as possible. She is also very welcoming to feedback and is always trying to improve. Her office hours are very helpful, as she encourages questions and loves to see people finally understand things. She's very "motherly" and is a warm, wholesome person. One thing Gelmini lacks, however, is the ability to understand how much students actually understand the material. Professor Gelmini thinks we are all experts with the material. If she says an exam is meant to take an hour, it will probably take 3+ hours. Her first midterm was ridiculous, because it was literally find the formula in the notes, do some calculus on it, and get credit. If you didn't find the formula and tried to start with first principles (like the conservation of momentum), you wouldn't be able to solve anything. However, she curved that midterm very gently. And as always, she improved her second midterm (which was 24 hours). Even though I hate taking 24-hour physics exams (it's like 24 hours of torture), I think the questions on her second midterm were much fairer (although, the grading was a bit sus). Her final, however, was on another level. It was 24 hours of pain. I can't believe she gave that final. Worst part about it, the median was way to high. I wonder why. Anyway, Gelmini is a solid choice. Her exams are super tough, but I think this is the class where I have learned the most physics (so far). Good luck!
Fall 2018 - Honestly, this was the hardest class I took in the physics department here at UCLA, and I didn't learn much--way harder than 110B, 112, 18L, and the rest. Musumeci is a convoluted lecturer (probably because he treats us as though we already know the material), and the exams are unfair (derive the shape of a spinning planet, Euler angles of a satellite, etc). Suggestion: avoid.
Spring 2018 - I had to go to the hospital for heart problems because of this class, no joke. I ended up having heart palpitations from the amount of anxiety and stress I had throughout the quarter. It is definitely the hardest subject I've taken so far, but I think surviving triple V is a rite of passage for many students. I am now confident that I can survive any other physics course, except perhaps another class with Vladimir. However, this class will really reveal who are the strongest and hardest working students. In my personal case I learned where my weaknesses are when it came to studying and I am confident going ahead taking future physics courses. I do not necessarily believe that you need to be super smart to survive this class, you just need to have a EXTREMELY high level of endurance and willpower for this class, especially towards the end of the quarter. His lectures are very good and clear but they are DENSE and move VERY fast. After two years of experience in UCLA, I found that silent lectures generally mean students are lost, and this occurred nearly every day in his class because he moves quickly. He covers nearly every word of the chapters he is supposed to cover and goes above and beyond that, especially when you get to special theory of relativity. The book is absolutely essential. He covered Marion/Thornton VERY closely, although he would occasionally use Taylor since it is very similar. He mentions Landau/Lifshitz in the beginning and he does utilize them here there and it is a beautiful book if you managed to learn how to work through it, although it is a graduate level text. You can find that one for free online. WHEN YOU GET TO SPECIAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY, HE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY USES LANDAU. The book is called"The Classical Theory of Fields", it is volume two in the course. Here is how to survive this man. Seriously attempt every single extra credit question on the homework. This is quintessential to survive, so much so that if you had to do only one question it should be the extra credit question. When you get to later problem sets the amount of extra credit you can get is absolutely ridiculous. On one problem set I managed to get a 21/12 on it and throughout the course there was always at least one student that managed to get 200%'s on the sets. Mathematica can be up to 5%, so in my experience I managed to get about a full 10%+ extra credit to survive and jump up an entire letter grade based on his scheme. The problem sets are fucking brutal. The first problem set is "easy" if you already know tensor calculus, but almost everyone certainly did not, so make sure to get help ASAP if you don't know summation notation yet. The next 8 problem sets are excruciatingly brutal and required significant help from the TA and classmates. We got lucky this quarter with Andrea who was a brilliant TA, but ideally you start working on them ASAP and work through the book. I would stay up till 4 AM probably twice a week working on the problem sets and then proceed to go to lecture and it did not do good things to my health. Make sure to check every book if the question is there. He pulls from Marion a lot but he also pulled a couple from Taylor and some questions were similar to Landau. His tests are wild. He does not expect you to finish, you do not have time to think and he grades heavily on the curve, so on the exams you are actively competing against the rest of your classmates to be on top. He will tell you what is on the exams but to even get ONE question you need to REALLY understand the topic. I hope you got really good at practicing Lagrangian mechanics from 105A because those were the only questions I managed to get on the first two midterms. If he tells you "it will be similar to something on the problem set" it will be extremely similar and study the shit out of it. For the love of god, make sure to go to the final review session that he gives you at the end of the quarter. Our final exam was very similar to the stuff he was doing in that review session, although it didn't stop us from getting massacred on that test. I can't even be mad at the guy because he is so nice. His grading scheme is ridiculously generous and he's always willing to try and make time to talk to you. I ended up meeting him outside of OH and class after doing extremely poorly on the first midterm and he was super helpful. I think my main problem with him is that he didn't make enough time for us outside of class and he is extremely busy. He only had 1 office hour a week and traveled frequently. Don't be discouraged, I did poorly in the beginning but still pulled through with an A+.