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Help with self study

  1. Mar 27, 2008 #1
    hi, am a s/w engineer with a lot of interest in physics in general. have studied it till about the high school level(newtonian mechanics, no relativity, thermodynamics, no modern physics). i want to start studying the subject afresh, ground up. could you suggest some good texts i can start off with. and are the feynman lectures recommended?
    and what kind of math knowledge is a prerequisite?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2008 #2
    I'm not sure in what depth you want to study it... You should definitely make sure that your calculus (through multivariate) is up to date, brush up on any rusty trig, and know some very basic linear algebra (matrix and vector operations, etc.). You can get the rest as you move along (Boas, Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences is a good reference - but you might not need it right away). Start with an introductory modern physics text - something like Harris (Nonclassical Physics). The canonical physics major normally starts with that and then moves on to classical mechanics (not what you studied in high school), see Thornton&Marion, and to electromagnetism (the canonical text is Griffiths, Intro to Electrodynamics), and then to quantum mechanics (another great Griffiths). Hope that helps.
  4. Mar 27, 2008 #3


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  5. Mar 28, 2008 #4


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    Since you're still at the beginning level, I would not recommend the Feynman lectures as your primary source for learning. They are great for supplementary or followup reading after you've gotten the basics elsewhere.

    If you know basic differential and integral calculus you can start off with any of the standard calculus-based introductory physics textbooks such as Halliday/Resnick/Walker, "Fundamentals of Physics". Otherwise you should start with a non-calculus-based textbook such as Giancoli, or work on your calculus and then start with Halliday et al.
  6. Mar 28, 2008 #5
    thanks for the replies. i ll get hold of a copy of halliday and go through it.
    i m alright with basic calculus. my problem is i grasp most concepts qualitatively, but when it comes to the quantitative part of it i mess it up. its mainly in view of this that i want to start afresh.
  7. Mar 28, 2008 #6
    I agree. I have the volume set and it could be very overwhelming if it's read as "new" material.

    Get the basics first (from a good textbook regarding the subject), then you can use the Feynman lectures as a supplement.
  8. Mar 29, 2008 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    I should also point out that if you're serious about mastering physics, you need to do plenty of exercises, and the Feynman lectures don't have exercises, at least not the usual end-of-chapter kind.
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