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Homework Help: Difficulty in learning physics

  1. Jun 16, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Hi everyone,

    I am taking 'Mechanics' ( Introductory level - Calculus based ) this summer. I already passed my Calculus I ( Differentiation ). The text book we are using is " Physics for scientists and engineers" by Serway. I am facing some difficulties with learning. I found that it is not like math. What is best way to learn physics. Text book is too confusing for me. Is there are any good calculus based physics books other than Serway?? Thank you!!

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2010 #2
    I think Serway is pretty good, that's what I used as a freshman. Another popular text is by Halliday and Resnick, you could try that out.

    Once you build your physics intuition you'll find physics to be quite easy. It's pretty easy to build an answer when you already have an idea of how the answer will look like. Maybe we could help you out more if you say what you are specifically struggling with.
  4. Jun 17, 2010 #3
    I have trouble with interpreting the word problems to the equivalent mathematical statements.:confused:
  5. Jun 17, 2010 #4
    I am currently using the Serway book for my intro mechanics class, and I will agree that it is a somewhat dense book, the reading is a bit rough. What are your note taking habbits both in and out of the classroom? I find that students, including myself, who scribble down copius amounts of notes often get left behind because it is very very difficult to follow along with the next concept while writing down the last concept. I now only write down examples, no notes what so ever from the lecture, but I am very invovled in the lecture basically repeating everything my proffesor is saying and if it clicks I move on, if not I question it. When I approach these problems, I attempt to visualize what is happening ( I am a visual learner) and what ought to happen, I set up a range of acceptable answers basically. There is one caveat to this approach and that is that physics is sometimes opposite to human intuition my highschool physics teacher once told me "Physics is the most illogical, logical science". Also you may already know this about physics as well with calc, and that is physics is a practice sport, it cannot just be read and via diffusion you are Richard Feynman. Being profficient in physics does not just come from a great memory or good comprehension, it comes from the confidence of being familliar with all problems your proffesor may deliver to you. The long short of it is practice, practice, practice as well as a different mind set. Trying to relate physics concepts to math concepts is difficult and so far in my studies the only simillarities I have found were with related rates from calc, other than that math is just understanding differentiation/integration rules and some abstract thought (at the calc I level anyway). Physics on the other hand is all abstract thought and remembering a few of the general rules such as conservation and so on. Hope this helps, and if what I have said you are already doing, then take it as positive reinforcement of your method.

  6. Dec 29, 2010 #5
    All my profs have said, the difficulties in physics may not always be the math, but interpreting exactly what the question is asking.

    I always find drawing a picture writing your known values and physical principles involved helps. It is important to also do all the examples in the textbook, and figuring out exactly why each thing is the way it is.
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