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General physics- can I learn it on my own?

  1. Mar 31, 2012 #1
    Hi, I'm currently majoring in physics. And with how low my calculus grade was my first semester, I've been devoting a lot more time to calculus two and a lot less time to my physics class. My physics classes I've been doing well in (A's), but as for my actual knowledge of it- not anywhere close to where I want it to be. So, I've decided to devote my summer to learning the 20 or so topics we've done in physics. With my Halliday 9E textbook, is this possible? Is it possible to teach physics to myself? Just the general stuff?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2012 #2
    What do you mean by "general"? If you mean just mechanics, sure. You can get through Halliday pretty easily in a summer. If you mean EnM as well, then its probably a bit of a stretch.
  4. Apr 1, 2012 #3
    I think you'd have to at least understand basic calculus so you can incorporate it to physical intuition. I mean, starting with knowing what limits are and these limits approximates the slope in a given x in a curve is pretty much a good start already, and those area under the curve and stuff. Those conceptual stuff that you'd learn from basic differentiation and integration carries well to physics.
  5. Apr 1, 2012 #4
    okay, i'm getting pretty good at calculus. and i'm not starting from completely nothinggggggggg.
  6. Apr 1, 2012 #5
    we've learned about mechanics, electromagnetism, gravitational fields.that's really it.
  7. Apr 4, 2012 #6
    Yes, you can. You just have to find the right set of books or the right set of online lectures that clearly conveys the subject matter to its reader very well. Ask yourself , where do you want your level of knowledge of physics to be at, and then find the right book and/or the right set of online lectures that meets your expectations.
  8. Apr 4, 2012 #7
    Consider also the possibility that you may be learning more than you think in physics right now. It goes by very quickly in class and sometimes you don't "get it" until much later. If you are majoring in physics you'll go over a lot of the same concepts in different contexts later on as well.

    Spending more time on math is ok. Many physics grad students I talk too say they wish they'd spent more time on math, or taken more math courses.

    There's always khanacademy.com too, though it's not calculus based physics.

    Also MIT open courseware, etc.

  9. Apr 5, 2012 #8
    I'm doing the same sort of thing this summer, though with Halliday 8E. If you want someone to bounce ideas and questions off of then send me a private message here on the forums and maybe we can swap Skype or IM handles.

    I'm particularly solid with calculus and vector calculus.
  10. Apr 5, 2012 #9
    i will take you up on that victor.raum :) definitely.

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