
#1
Dec2007, 11:32 AM

P: 21

I'm about to begin a bachelor of science with a physics major. I've already found some books on electrodynamics and relativity and such, but I can't find the motivation nor resources to intepret some of the more abstract mathematics, especially to do with linear algebra, tensor analysis and other similar concepts.
Could somebody, prefferably university academics, please give me some recomendations on reading material for both the mathematical and physical sides of first year physics? I find it extensively useful to have a firm knowledge of a topic before studying it formally, though cannot find the right away about getting a head start here. 



#2
Dec2007, 11:36 AM

Mentor
P: 40,878

Why don't you start with the physics textbook that you will be using. I'd start there before worrying about advanced material.
Do you know which text is assigned? 



#3
Dec2007, 11:44 AM

P: 21

Iv'e no idea yet, I haven't actually been accepted into the course yet, but I'm practically guaranteed a spot.
I know that I'll need some idea of how the text I'll be using operates, but I like getting a few angles on a topic. For instance, I duxed my high school calculus class because I had read some university texts on vector calc, which really broadened my understanding of it. 



#4
Dec2007, 11:50 AM

Mentor
P: 40,878

starting point
Unless this program is unusual, you won't have to worry about vector calculus or tensor analysis right off. If I were you, I'd find out the basic first year physics textbook they use and poke through it. That would give you a leg up. Unless your high school prep was outstanding, there will be plenty to learn.
I certainly agree with the idea of learning as much as you can before you take the course officially. I found out years ago that classes are much easier if you already know the material. 



#5
Dec2007, 11:54 AM

P: 21

What sort of stuff would you label outstanding?




#6
Dec2007, 12:03 PM

Mentor
P: 40,878

Did you score high on the physics advanced placement exams? That's one way to tell if you're prepared.
Another good idea is to get yourself an undergrad physics problem book (something in the Schaum's outline series or equivalent) and start cranking them out. Since first year physics is fairly standard, that will be good preparation for any course. 


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