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Geometry for physics

  1. Dec 14, 2015 #1
    I'm in 11th grade right now, and I would like to know whether or not I should spend my time learning geometry as my high-school education system places zero emphasis on geometry. If so, what type of geometry should I start with? (euclidean, analytic, differential, non euclidean?)

    by the time this school year ends I will have finished Calc I-III, (up to partial derivatives, vector Calc, multiple integrals, first order differential equations etc).

    I would like to major in physics but my parents and I both think ee is much more practical, for the mean time, I'm just studying math for fun.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2015 #2
    Well if you're studying math for fun you should definitely study Euclidean Geometry. It's amazing to see how geometry was developed from a set of postulates and axioms by Euclid. As for physics I don't know how much geometry is required for physics (I'm in high school!)
  4. Dec 14, 2015 #3
    Differential, nonEuclidian geometry is important in physics, but as with anything, you have to work your way through the basics (Euclidian geometry) since it will continually be used throughout your physics education (especially trig)

    Although if you've already finished vector calc, you hopefully should have a good grasp on E geometry. You could start studying diff geometry after having vector calc down, as many of the ideas extend/generalize.

    As for the major, one way or the other is fine but have an open mind when you get to college. I got in to my school as aerospace engineering and after taking my first class, I decided it wasn't for me and switched to physics. I've enjoyed all of my physics/math classes since. Yes the engineering may be more practical which you should consider but I'd rather work towards doing something I love (going to grad school soon), despite the pay or job opportunities, than doing something that others say is the right career choice based on money. If you love EE do that but I wouldn't necessarily settle on the safer option a priori
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  5. Dec 14, 2015 #4
    And remember this can work the other way. I thought I'd prefer physics but ended up liking EE more, so I'm happy with my choice of EE.

    Trigonometry is what's particularly important, at least for undergraduate physics.
  6. Dec 14, 2015 #5
    I recommended the book by Edwin E. Moise, Geometry. Very good and challenging text. I found it harder than my calculus sequence.
  7. Dec 14, 2015 #6
    I would re-learn calculus from a harder book. Give Tromba? Vector Calculus a shot for multivariable calculus, for the engineering physics side of things. Ofcourse you can try Courant, but thats more of a math major book (myself). Courant is heavily motivated by physics applications.

    Maybe try Kleppner and Kolenkow, since you have a good math background.

    Lets not forget ordinary differential equations. Ross and Zill (older and cheaper editions will do).
  8. Dec 16, 2015 #7
    Thanks, I am going through kleppner and kolenkow at a rate of 1 chapter per day during winter break. I have Courant so I may Check that out
  9. Dec 16, 2015 #8
    1 chapter a day??? That's way too quickly to properly understand the book.
  10. Dec 16, 2015 #9

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    As I wrote on another thread, "I took a speed reading course and now I can read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It's about Russia."
  11. Dec 16, 2015 #10
    Well it's not exactly new stuff for me. I've learned vectors informally twice and formally in my calculus class once, I've finished AP physics I, and now I'm in AP physics C covering basically the same stuff but more in depth and with calculus, the book is just to finally entrench the intuition deep within me so that I can move on to EM and reapeat the entire process.

    I'm actually kind of doing 2 days per chapter but I'm overlapping the days so that one day I'll be doing the previous days chapter and reading the next chapter.
  12. Dec 16, 2015 #11
  13. Dec 16, 2015 #12
    But are you doing any problems? If you're only reading the chapter and saying "ok, i get it" then i must say that won't get you anywhere.
  14. Dec 16, 2015 #13
    Kleppner and Kolenkow is nothing like AP physics. You actually need time for this book.
  15. Dec 16, 2015 #14
    I'm definitely doing all the problems lol. Reading physics doesn't work, it's like listening to someone play piano and then saying you know how to play piano.

    Though taking into account all these warnings I might end up going through the book a little slower.
  16. Dec 16, 2015 #15
    Oh, you haven't started yet? Well, you're in for a surpise then...
  17. Dec 16, 2015 #16
    Break hasn't started yet, all I did was finish chapter one and do all the problems. It was just on and off whenever I got time in class/at home. When break comes I'll be spending am entire day on each chapter.
  18. Dec 16, 2015 #17
    Be sure to let us know how it goes!
  19. Dec 16, 2015 #18
    I feel like I'm kind of being made fun of xD
    I'll try my best.
  20. Dec 17, 2015 #19
    A day for each chapter won't suffice. You can get away with it in history class, but It just doesn't work like that with math or physics.
  21. Dec 17, 2015 #20
    Seems the opposite for me. I grasp math and physics almost instantly, then I go into history and get straight Bs on tests even if I study. My A is only due to my perfect homework and class work record...
  22. Dec 17, 2015 #21
    Really, I'm not making fun of you. I meant that genuinely. Really, let us know how it goes. If things are difficult, let us know and we might give you advice on how to handle things.

    That is usually the sign that you're doing things that are too easy for you! Don't worry, that will change. Nothing is fun about not struggling.
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