Any tips for a self-learner?

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In summary: I learn the math.Classical physics contains classical mechanics, E&M and thermo.Stat mech uses classical physics and quantum mechanics.It sounds like you are a bit blase about vector calc,I apologize if I sounded cocky but I was just being honest 😅 I didn't find vector calc difficult. Although, it was a long time ago and I may end up eating my words this time around. I'm not at all averse to learning math. I greatly enjoy it and in fact, I have lots of ideas regarding math too. However, I want to try a need-to-know approach i.e. instead of learning the math and then diving into the physics, I want to first
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I've decided to finally start my self-study journey of physics. I did consider joining a university course but I don't really care about the degree. I just want the knowledge. Plus, this way is much less stressful. My planned journey is this:

Newtonian mechanics ----> Lagrangian Mechanics ----> Special Relativity ----> General Relativity ----> Quantum mechanics ----> Quantum field theory (this hopefully contains QCD and QED as well) at which point my journey will be complete and I can finally start rigorously working on all the ideas I have.

Is this the best approach? Or is there something that I can do better? I'd love any feedback, especially from other self-learners. Thanks in advance 🙂
 
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I do not see the requisite maths, E&M, thermo/statistical mechanics, optics/waves.

There is not enough detail. How are you going to study each topic?

Are you only able to study one thing at a time?
 
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  • #3
Frabjous said:
I do not see the requisite maths, E&M, thermo/statistical mechanics.

There is not enough detail. How are you going to study each topic?

Are you only able to study one thing at a time?
Wouldn't E&M (I think it stands for electricity and magnetism?) fall under Lagrangian mechanics as well? That was my impression. Same for thermo. They're all part of classical mechanics, right?

The way I study them will be a book for each. For instance, I already have Taylor's Classical mechanics. However, I'm guessing trying to study it on my own will prove quite challenging. So I'll also be watching some lecture series on youtube/coursera/MIT.

Kind of, yes. I am working fulltime. So I have very little time on weekdays (~4 hours/day). Plus, I'm in no hurry. I want to make sure I fully grasp the concepts before I move on to the next thing.
 
  • #4
Feynstein100 said:
Wouldn't E&M (I think it stands for electricity and magnetism?) fall under Lagrangian mechanics as well? That was my impression. Same for thermo. They're all part of classical mechanics, right?

The way I study them will be a book for each. For instance, I already have Taylor's Classical mechanics. However, I'm guessing trying to study it on my own will prove quite challenging. So I'll also be watching some lecture series on youtube/coursera/MIT.

Kind of, yes. I am working fulltime. So I have very little time on weekdays (~4 hours/day). Plus, I'm in no hurry. I want to make sure I fully grasp the concepts before I move on to the next thing.
I looked at your earlier posts. How did Halliday and Resnick work for you?
How is your math? Do you know calculus, vector calc, diffeq?
 
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  • #5
Frabjous said:
I looked at your earlier posts. How did Halliday and Resnick work for you?
How is your math? Do you know calculus, vector calc, diffeq?
Halliday and Resnick. Damn, that takes me back lol. Yeah I handled it just fine, from what I can remember. But I think there wasn't any advanced stuff there. So I looked around and lots of people said that Taylor was pretty good for classical mechanics. Which is why I chose to go with him.

My scalar calculus is pretty good (I call it scalar calculus to differentiate it from vector calculus lol. Since there's so many other types as well: tensor calculus, multivariable calculus, even matrix calculus from what I hear) Although, it might be a bit rusty since I haven't done actual integrations in a really long time.

Vector calculus is a different story however. I did learn some of it in college but I didn't spend nearly enough time on it as I did with scalar calculus during high school. Still, I'm pretty good with math in general and iirc there's only 3 new things to learn in VC: gradient, divergence and curl. It wasn't that complicated.

I also tried to learn tensor calculus but that kind of proved to be extremely tough. Although, I don't think I'll need it until GR anyway 😅
 
  • #6
Taylor is fine for a first mechanics book.

You need to pay attention to the maths. It sounds like you are a bit blase about vector calc, but it is your call. You need to get differential equations. Afterwards, you then need to get mathematical methods.

Classical physics contains classical mechanics, E&M and thermo.
Stat mech uses classical physics and quantum mechanics.
 
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  • #7
Frabjous said:
It sounds like you are a bit blase about vector calc,
I apologize if I sounded cocky but I was just being honest 😅 I didn't find vector calc difficult. Although, it was a long time ago and I may end up eating my words this time around. I'm not at all averse to learning math. I greatly enjoy it and in fact, I have lots of ideas regarding math too. However, I want to try a need-to-know approach i.e. instead of learning the math and then diving into the physics, I want to first understand why I need a particular mathematical approach/object in the first place. Could the same physics be described by a different mathematical approach/object? Why/why not? These are the kinds of questions that I'm really interested in. Unlike Feynman, I don't subscribe to the "shut up and calculate" approach. I want to really understand things, not just do the math. To me, the physics is always more important. The math is always secondary.
 
  • #8
Ok. You were warned.

Start with Taylor. PF is available for your questions. Afterwards, you can either then continue with the next level of mechanics or take the comparable leveled quantum or E&M. No need to decide right now. It depends on how you feel at that time because motivation is important.
 
  • #9
Feynstein100 said:
Could the same physics be described by a different mathematical approach/object?
Many times yes. If this is what interests you, you are either going to being reading math or multiple physics books that approach the topics differently.
 
  • #10
Frabjous said:
Ok. You were warned.
That sounds ominous 😅 but don't worry. I'm not doing this because I have to. I'm doing this because I enjoy it and I want to. Any roadblocks/difficulties I face along the way will just make the journey more exciting and enjoyable. I've waited a really really long time to do this. I've already got so many ideas waiting in the wings. Imagine what I could do with the proper knowledge to explore them all 😊
Frabjous said:
PF is available for your questions.
Thanks so much for the encouragement. I don't think I'll be able to do it without you guys. I'll need all the help I can get 😃
Frabjous said:
If this is what interests you, you are either going to being reading math or multiple physics books that approach the topics differently.
Sounds fun. I can't wait 😊
 

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