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A good book for basic Physics for a beginner

  1. Jul 27, 2011 #1
    I'm 53 and know very little about Physics and want to start to learn from the very basics.
    I will be learning entirely from home by books and the internet.

    Can anyone recommend a very basic beginners book to start learning from (UK publications prefered), please assume I know nothing :D

    Thanks to anyone who replies,

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2011 #2
    Wow, very impressive. But I do not know much about books. Here is some useful links:

    You can view many demonstration from the prerecorded lecturing class.

    A good online learning source

    'http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html" [Broken]
    A great overview of the Physics via mind mapping.

    You will see a lots of things and categories need to be learned. Never mind, learn it step by step. And I like to be a self-learner. Of course you may also ask someone else or search for books for more info.

    Hope these links help.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Jul 27, 2011 #3


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    I may recommend two very different textbooks - I won't guess which one may better fit to your taste - both addressed to laypeople, assuming only very basic mathematical knowledge.
    Both may be used by advanced high-school students and non-physics students of colleges and universities.

    First: classical position: "Feynman's lectures on physics" - the best introductory course of physics ever, written originally as a script of lectures R.P.Feynman gave 50 years ago to non-physics students at Caltech.

    Second: modern free e-book (available also in paper version) desined especially for self-learning, addressed for adult amateurs, and students from high-school to non-physics departments of universities.
    Christoph Schiller "Motion Mountain", http://motionmountain.net/project.html
  5. Jul 27, 2011 #4
    50 physics ideas by joanne baker
    Introduction to most basic physics ideas. Pretty good read, I'm a carpenter and I could grasp all the ideas. It's what lead me here actually Ive got more questions!
  6. Jul 27, 2011 #5
    nik, it very much depends on how much mathematics you knowand how much mathematics you want your textbook to use. So please tell us these things.
  7. Jul 27, 2011 #6
  8. Jul 27, 2011 #7
    I would recommend trying an AP Physics book, such as those by Princeton Review. If you don't know calculus yet, get one for AP Physics B. It covers mechanics, e&m, thermo, optics, waves, and some atomic and nuclear physics. A little bit of everything. They seem to be a little more "to the point" than textbooks, which could be good or bad.
  9. Jul 27, 2011 #8
    That's where everybody starts. Most physics students are younger than you, but none of them were born knowing how to do math and physics, and you're just as capable of learning it as they are. With all the video lectures available for free on the internet (be sure to visit the MIT OCW website if you haven't already), and if you are willing to do the work, there's no reason you can't get the equivalent of a BS at home.

    So the place to start is with a basic algebra text. Then geometry and trig. Then precalculus. Then calculus. You want to take the full three semesters of calculus (i.e., the whole of one of those gigantic texts by Stewart or Thomas or Anton or Larsen), but you only need one semester before you start reading a calculus-based physics text. If you keep your calculus a semester ahead of the physics, then you shouldn't run into any math you haven't seen.

    Depending on how many hours a day you can devote to it, it might take you five years or more to finish those gigantic three-semester calculus and physics texts. But you will be learning something useful every day, so the rewards will be immediate. God only knows what learning tools will be available by then, if you want to continue all the way to a BS equivalent.

    As I always say when self-studiers want text recommendations, get them all. For freshman calculus and physics, a text 40 years old is just as good as a new one, so go on Amazon or Ebay and spend $10 each on used editions of 2 or 3 of the above calculus texts, and 2 or 3 of Serway, Young and Freedman, Giancoli, Knight, or Halliday and Resnick for physics. That way you get more examples, and alternative explanations when something is confusing. And be sure to watch the free lectures from MIT's Walter Lewin
    which usually contain interesting demos. In fact, you can watch them for the demos right away, and come back to them when you're ready to understand the math involved.

    If that is more work than you wanted to do, a more modest goal would be to just do the basic algebra and trig, and then read an algebra-based physics book, like Hewitt's "Conceptual Physics," or the online books by Ben Crowell. That should only take a couple years if you give it an hour a day or so. You will still know more about physics than 90% of people, but you will have to accept things on faith, rather than really understanding them from the ground up, as calculus allows you to do.

    Best of luck to you.
  10. Oct 15, 2011 #9
  11. Oct 18, 2011 #10
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