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I don't think that that is all there was to it. Of course, if that WERE the case - physics would be a lot "easier". But physics isn't just math, you should be able to account for anything that would be happening "in real life" and factor those considerations in your equations.. If what you say were really the case, freshman physics would truly be easy - it would just be a course with a ton of calculus drill problem, then most math students would just be able to blaze through it, but it isn't the case

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I don't think that that is all there was to it. Of course, if that WERE the case - physics would be a lot "easier". But physics isn't just math, you should be able to account for anything that would be happening "in real life" and factor those considerations in your equations.. If what you say were really the case, freshman physics would truly be easy - it would just be a course with a ton of calculus drill problem, then most math students would just be able to blaze through it, but it isn't the case

Funnily enough I find maths the hardest subject of them all and physics the easiest. I think its about visual thinking. Every physics problem I come across I make a mental picture of whats going on then I usually know how to approach the problem. In maths I can't use that approach unfortunately. Even when it comes to electricity and magnetism you can still make mental images by pretending that the electrical charge/magnetic field is visible. I've heard people say "some people just have a head for physics, some don't". Thats ******** in my opinion. Its all about how you approach the subject I think.

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- #4

Physics Monkey

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I'm glad that you find physics easy and enjoyable! Knowing formulas can't hurt, but I suspect your strategy of making a mental picture is also a big part of it. You mentioned difficulty doing the same thing in mathematics. I've often found it helpful to translate math problems into physics problems and then apply my physics intuition. It's not always easy or possible, but I think it helps one understand both subjects a bit better.

An amusing book you might enjoy along these lines is "The Mathematical Mechanic" by Mark Levi.

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diazona

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I would say you're right, but with the caveat that knowing formulas is more involved than just, well, knowing formulas :tongue2: It's not enough to just have memorized which variables go together in which ways; you have to really know what they mean, and how to identify which physical concepts correspond to the variables. But once you get that, there really aren't that many independent formulas. Heck, all of kinematics is pretty much based on just two formulas, [itex]x = x_0 + v_0 t + \frac{1}{2}at^2[/itex] and [itex]v_2 = v_0^2 + 2ad[/itex]. That plus [itex]F=ma[/itex], [itex]K=\frac{1}{2}mv^2[/itex], [itex]U=mgh[/itex] accounts for elementary dynamics. So I definitely understand what you're saying. I think once you get to the point where physics looks this easy, it means you're in good shape.

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No, physics is not about formulas. Plug and chug is not physics. I recommend getting some physics books or look at some physics contests.

[itex]v_2 = v_0^2 + 2ad[/itex]

[itex]v_2^2 = v_0^2 + 2ad[/itex]

- #10

diazona

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[tex]v^2 = v_0^2 + 2ad[/tex] actually is what I meant... typo on my part.No, physics is not about formulas. Plug and chug is not physics. I recommend getting some physics books or look at some physics contests.

[itex]v_2^2 = v_0^2 + 2ad[/itex]

- #11

Vanadium 50

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That happened in my AP Physics class last year.

People basically memorized everything, then the teacher told us he would put a question regarding a car on turning on a sloped bank

and some people tried to memorize the handful of terribly long equations for friction or minimum velocity.

A few of them actually got it right, but the teacher only gave them one point :)

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People that have great memorization seem to be much better in pre-med than undergraduate physics. I have the opposite problem, my memorization is truly awful, so if you have something that requires rote memorization, I'm pretty much dead in the water. I can sometimes "fake memorization" by finding the rule, telling a story, drawing a picture, or looking up the answer on google, but in situations where I have a list of things that just have to be memorized, I'm pretty dreadful.

One of the tricky parts in teaching is to realize that what may be trivially obvious to you may be completely missing in the student that you are talking to.

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It really depends on the aspect you take in the science.

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If that is what you learn during your elementary physics courses then the less elementary physics courses will get hard. Somewhere you got to start learning things properly and there is no reason to not start with it during your elementary courses. Sure it takes a bit more time, but you earn all of that back very quickly if you intend to study more later.95% about knowing formulae?

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Agreed.

To the OP: No, elementary physics isn't about knowing formulae. Passing exams and getting good marks is probably attainable (depending on the lecturer..) through basically just knowing a list of formulae. However, understanding concepts is by far the most important part of introductary physics. It means that when you come to tackle more difficult topics later on you'll have a solid background - you'd be amazed to discover how often simple concepts like a pendulum or spring become useful in different areas of physics.

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Summing it up, as you get into more advanced physics and science courses in general you will realize that there isn't a formula for every scenario and that's when your problem solving abilities and knowledge of concepts will come into play.

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I don't know why the theory behind the "formulas" doesn't seem to be taught more (my Physics I course was taught as though every formula were completely independent from every other....) but it makes things so much easier.

I joined a study group one time and it ended up being 90 minutes of me 'showing' the others how they could get any of the formulas from F=ma while they tried to pick out formulas they were certain weren't related in any way.

I actually made a youtube video showing a few relations (mostly the kinematic equations and Work Energy Theorem) all derived from F=ma. It was before I actually took Physics I, so I don't remember exactly what I showed.

If anyone is interested it's on the channel of troponinnutrition

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Why, I once saw a person posting a problem on electrostatics in the Homework Help forum. He couldn't get the correct answer - having used the value of the Boltzmann constant for that of the constant k often used in Coulomb's Law!

Multiple step problems also tend to sieve out these plug-and-chuggers from my experience, for there is no one "standard" equation that can output the answer immediately. It's also a good thing to ask for derivations, especially impromptu ones unique to the situation :)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSxEe55Ce8I actually made a youtube video showing a few relations (mostly the kinematic equations and Work Energy Theorem) all derived from F=ma. It was before I actually took Physics I, so I don't remember exactly what I showed.

If anyone is interested it's on the channel of troponinnutrition

That's actually where I recognized you from. If it wasn't for your physics videos and piano videos I would've guessed you were just the average powerlifter/bodybuilder, etc.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSxEe55Ce8

That's actually where I recognized you from. If it wasn't for your physics videos and piano videos I would've guessed you were just the average powerlifter/bodybuilder, etc.

Lol! I'm hoping to one day be the average physicist!

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I can assure you mine was sufficiently difficult and just memorizing formulas wouldn't even get you past the homework let alone the exams.

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