Can you point me in the right direction for self learning?

In summary, Clark is a programmer who has a keen interest in physics. He struggles with maths and has difficulty understanding vector calculus. He would benefit from a book on statics and dynamics and from starting with Wikipedia, free online sources. He would also benefit from solving physics problems.
  • #1
Hi there everyone.

I am a programmer not long out of University and i have a really keen interest in a particular physics engine.

Physics is far beyond my current range of ability and so is a lot of maths :( but i have spent a long time trying to get some kind of an entry point.

Firsty right back at the start. If i am talking about these concepts, what exactly do i need to look for a book on?

Joints - Prismatic, Revolute, Distance

These concepts are applied to only 2d rigid bodies such as Circles or Polygons. It is clear that this is some form of physics, but as a beginner, where can i go to find a book on this subject? If books are likely to be too complex, where do i need to start from to begin with?

I have some broad understanding of what each of these concepts do but the next portion i find mind blowing is the maths.

All of this stuff seems to work with Scalars or Vectors. I spent all morning on Amazon looking for 2d Vector maths but i couldn't come up with anything relevant.

To give an example of why i need Vector maths, let's take a brick [] now pretend this brick is a car wheel. I need to figure out the angle of the brick, the linear velocity of the brick and i also need to cancel out the "Sideways" velocity. Wheels don't roll sideways.

I know that by using vectors, i could no doubt find out what forces are acting on the side of the brick and somehow cancel them out but i don't want to just get an answer for this... i want to understand what i am dealing with.

So it seems i have an Interest in Mechicanal Physics and Vector Maths?

If i was an alien with no schooling, where would i begin with a book? Do i need to go way back to Trig and start with a full book on trig before i could even begin to understand Vector maths? Also, i guess i need to fully understand Vector maths before i can understand Mechanical physics?

Any help would be really really appreciated... If you guys can't guide me i don't know who can!


Physics news on
  • #2
a book on statics and dynamics will get you most of the topics...

but motors is an electrical subject...

How about starting any of them with Wikipedia, free online...and if that is not enough search on the internet for other sources...
  • #3
This is a tough question, because it is hard to guess how strong your background is. In most countries you would have had some vector calculus in school, before you could even enter university, and I am sure many CS programs require some rudimentary linear algebra.

If you want to get a nice intro and a feel for the subject, I would recommend that you get a nice big book like "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Tipler and keep it next to your pillow.

As you have seen, you will definitely need vector calculus, and linear algebra, just to understand what the source code you can find is doing.

Trig to learn:
- just the triangle and how to get the different length with sin, cos and tan

Linear algebra to learn:
- vectors
- matrices (especially rotation matrices)
- dot product
- cross product

More math:
- integration
- differentiation

Physics problems to solve:
- trajectory of a canon ball shot at different angles
- elastic and inelastic collision
- the difference between a block sliding into a loop and a cylinder rolling into a loop

In university courses this takes about two or three month. (they hammer it into you without too many mathematical details)

Once you have a feeling for the normal dynamics. There are many things. Just to drop a few keywords:

- Integral definition of the moment of inertia. And the parallel axes theorem by Steiner. So you can calculate how fast a car spins, and not just boxes and spheres.
- differential equations and Runge-Kutta algorithms for solving them, so you can simulate things like friction
- The harmonic oscillator so you can make springs and pendulums
- analytical mechanics. Sometimes you have objects fixed to rails and other movements under restraint. Numerical solvers often have problems with this, but there are physical ways to force perfect solutions
- Quaternions. These are some crazy extension of the imaginary numbers going beyond what most physicists use, but they find quite a few applications in numerical rotations

Otherwise check amazon they the specialized books will get you to the results the quickest
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1. What resources can I use for self-learning in science?

There are many resources available for self-learning in science. Some common options include online courses, textbooks, scientific journals, and educational websites. Additionally, many universities and organizations offer free online courses or open educational resources for self-study.

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There are many study techniques that can be effective for self-learning in science. Some popular techniques include active reading, creating flashcards, and using mnemonic devices. It can also be helpful to practice problem-solving and critical thinking skills by working through practice questions or experiments.

5. How can I track my progress and ensure I am understanding the material while self-learning in science?

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