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Getting into physics question

  1. Aug 25, 2004 #1
    Hello! This is my first post so please bear with me. I am very interested in physics and mathematics and was wondering if anyone has any advice for someone like me that has no formal education in these subjects (other than high school). I'm not trying to become a physicist but I want a much better understanding of how this all works. I enjoy math and would like to self teach up to a level where I can make sense of the more technical aspects. I've enjoys the books by Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene but where would I start to teach myself the rest?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2004 #2


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    To learn you must find out what you already know.

    If you know the basics of calculus, or you know but just can't remember, you are at a good spot.

    If you don't know where you are, maybe pick up some basic math texts at the library or used bookstore. From there, you will see things that you already know or don't know, and you will also get some practice on top of that.

    The next step is to buy more advanced books, and I say buy because you won't complete a textbook in the 20-40 days of borrowing at the library. If you can't afford a book, or don't know what to look for in a book, or what not. Search online at yahoo.ca, or google.com for PDF Books. There is a lot of free ones, and of course badly written ones online. Be descriptive in the search, like "Free Introductory Calculus PDF Books" or something. Also, checkout the Napster post above, that's all about free books. While searching, don't get freaked out if you download a book and all you see jiberish. This is because you really don't know what it is, and should start at the basics(or chapter 1).

    If you can't grasp some of the simplest problems, don't put yourself down. It is completely normal and it happens to me, too. Every once in awhile you will get stumped on something so simple, it's amazing how you don't know how to do it.

    Topics to look into:
    Introductory Statistics(not completely necessary, but it's nice to know some of the basics, like Permutations and Combinations)
    Linear Algebra - This would be an important topic.
    Calculus - Most important, at the moment.
    Physics - Of course.
    Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry - Maybe not entirely important if you understand geometry a little bit, but again it's nice to know, and it might benefit you a lot, depending on the direction you plan on taking.

    Tips: Check out a university program setting, and find out how they proceed with the subjects after the introductory courses. i.e. Modern Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Calculus, etc... It will also tell you the parts they are going to teach in the course description, too.

    Reading textbooks on the computer sucks, in my opinion, so you might want to try printing at a Business Depot or something. They charge 6-8 cents a copy, and that way you won't have to waste 5 cartridges of ink on one book. Also, get the book binded, preferably in 2 parts or more, depending on size.

    If you can't find any books, I got some that I can give you. That is if it fits in my e-mail or yours.

    Anyways, good luck!
  4. Aug 25, 2004 #3
    the schaum's outlines are a rather easy way to pick up things, you should be able to find some at your library or bookstore, just go to the science section and it should be there..

    -and you could check out the hyper-physics website
  5. Aug 25, 2004 #4
    Thanks guys, I'll check into all of that. As to where I am right now...I understand a lot of physics theory in a non-technical sense, as in the explainations found is magazines and books for the masses and not for physicists. As for math...although I enjoy it I don't have a good grasp beyond Algebra. I've looked at "Beginning Calculus" books and I'm lost at the beginning, but I wasn't sure of where to go from there.
  6. Aug 25, 2004 #5


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    Calculus isn't difficult, but you must start at chapter 1. It's not one of those Maths you skip to the chapter you want to know, and bam you know it.
  7. Aug 25, 2004 #6
    I know they get pretty advanced, but Feynman's lectures are unbelievably helpful. Its like having someone sit down and explain everything to you exactly how you want to hear it. They cover what seems like every aspect of physics and the math that goes with it.
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