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Cosmology, Philosophy, and Physics. What should I take first?

  1. Oct 30, 2005 #1
    I sort of see philosophy as standing by itself in comparison to the other two subjects in question. I've found physics and cosmology to be inextricably linked in many ways. I was wondering if anybody had a recommendation regarding what to study first (even though I've technically already studied basic physics: mechanics, heat, sound, electricity and electonics, and a little chemistry, if that counts for anything). And also, are there any prerequisite courses I should take before physics/cosmology/philosophy? I know I'm going to need to touch up on my math which isn't currently top-notch... specifics would be greatly appreciated. Here's a list of subjects I'm taking next semester:

    General science (biology, astronomy, and mainly more physics)
    Music History
    Algebra 1

    I'm doing this cosmology/philosophy/physics thing as extra studying on my part. I'm home-schooled, so I'm not affiliated with public schooling. My studying course doesn't have cosmology and philosophy, so I'm kind of at a loss.

    Anyway, what's your recommendation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2005 #2
    If you're really just taking Algebra 1, a first time introduction to algebra, then you won't be able to do any much serious physics studies at all until you learn more math. Algebratic skills (even as far as calculus) are just so essential to physics that I can't imagine learning it without it. Sorry.

    I suppose this limits you to less formal books on physics or cosmology, of which I am sure there are plenty. Brian Greene, for instance, has written several popular books for non-scientists on "cool" physics of quantum mechanics, special relativity and string theory that require no technical knowledge.

    Philosophy should generally be more accessible, but you may likely quickly tire if you jump right in to original texts without guidence. I suspect there are some philosophy textbooks written for students your age, though (and what exactly is that age?).

    You're going to need to convey more clearly what your goals are in terms of what you want and are expected to learn before you will be able to get more specific advice. I guess you learn mainly through reading textbooks of various sorts? Do you also need problems to work on?

    If you want to jump right in to more advanced physics as soon as possible, I would simply take more math instead, so that you can learn the more advanced math necessary for self-study in physics at a level closer to that of advanced high school or introductary college students. But that may not be prudent either considering your age and ability. If I recall correctly, a knowledge base at around the "Algebra 2" level is sufficient for taking an algebra based physics course, but with physics, you really cannot have too much math.
  4. Oct 31, 2005 #3
    I think algebra at the college level deals more with things like rings, groups, stuff like that. Have a good grasp of calculus until calc III, know DEs and linear algebra, and you should be on your way to do fairly basic physics in college.

    i don't know about cosmology or philosophy but for physics, the above maths courses should be essential, as well as basic freshman physics. If you find the workload heavy, maybe you should ease off on the music history. I guess psycology and economics would be essential for philosophy.
    : )
  5. Oct 31, 2005 #4
    Thanks for the advice, guys.

    I'm a 17 year old high-school senior. To be honest, I'm pretty suprised I've made it this far without taking any challenging math courses. But, now that I've just started my senior year and have interests in more advanced subjects, I've clearly run into some brick walls due to not taking much math.

    Even though it's called "algebra 1", it sort of isn't (I'll post specific algebra 1 contents if I can find the course description guide)... I've already taken introductory algebra. So in a sense, I'm not completely clueless. :blushing:

    Yes, textbooks are what I learn through. In my high-school cirriculum, I receive my textbooks (and "study units", which enable me to take practice tests on chapters in the textbooks) in the mail. My parents had a math tutor hired for my brother when he took his advanced math courses because he couldn't self-teach them... If necessary, I might need get a tutor as well when the time comes for harder math.

    Since I can't take cosmology or advanced physics in high-school, I've just been reading articles online and stuff in textbooks. I guess right now, since I can't really do the complex math physics stuff yet, I've just been studying the "informative" part of physics (i.e. what black holes are, basic mechanics, theories, etc.). I don't really have a studying goal, persay. I'm just trying to learn more about cosmology/physics/philosophy. I find it all very fascinating.
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