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Highschool Physics

  1. Jul 31, 2011 #1
    Does anyone know how high school physics are like? (like AP, etc)

    Is it mathematically introduced or just a basic formula and solve?

    I'm trying to figure out where I should start in Physics. I have no clue how it compares to math (ie. geometry->precalc->calc->etc):tongue2:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2011 #2


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    People do not usually start out with AP physics, instead they have a one-year introductory course first.

    Generally speaking, lots of physics problems are "word problems", which are solved by having the student setting up equations to be solved based on the concepts they have learned. Problems can range from plugging info into a single simple formula (easier) to figuring out what equation or combination of equations, out of several possibilities, is necessary to solve a problem.

    The math required is mostly algebra 2, with some geometry and basic trig (the sine, cosine, tangent functions).
  4. Jul 31, 2011 #3
    Yes, I know starting out w/ AP isn't usually done, but I looked up the first level Physics course and it seemed pretty easy. Any ideas on some good Physics books?
  5. Jul 31, 2011 #4
    Giancoli is a decent textbook, you could also consider getting an AP Physics review book for B or C such as those from Princeton Review.
  6. Jul 31, 2011 #5
    High school AP physics classes are a quiet post-lunch nap time where knowledge goes to die and the teacher gives easy A's.

    Well that's how it was for me anyway...
  7. Aug 1, 2011 #6
    Then obviously your teacher doesn't know how to teach and you'll probably end up being unprepared for university.
  8. Aug 2, 2011 #7
    Obviously much of it involves who your teacher is and what textbook is used.

    I will say my school didn't require intro physics before AP Physics, and pretty much if you have some knowledge of calculus, AP Physics C will be far far far more interesting than intro physics (which will probably be all formula memorization).
  9. Aug 2, 2011 #8
    Well, at the very bottom of it, a lot of physics is formula memorization.
  10. Aug 2, 2011 #9
    At the very bottom, physics is understanding why the formula is the way it is.
  11. Aug 2, 2011 #10
    Not necessarily, I would agree that mathematical physics is trying to understand the reasoning behind the formula but standard physics isn't. It's all opinion anyways.
  12. Aug 2, 2011 #11
    At the very bottom, physics is deciding which formula is applicable and which instances.
  13. Aug 2, 2011 #12
    Not really. The only "formulas" you should be memorizing are the laws that govern whatever topic you're studying. Physical laws are written mathematically. Memorizing Newton's 2nd law or Gauss's law, other Maxwell equations is a good idea. If you begin memorizing something like the magnetic field created by a loop current then you're doing it wrong.

    Every problem is different and you have to manipulate laws and concepts learned to come up with a unique solution.
  14. Aug 2, 2011 #13
    Perhaps the most introductory type physics is mostly formula memorization, but higher physics most certainly isn't! It is about problem solving and innovation :P

    As twofu said, there are very few formulas you should memorize. Really the people who are "good at physics" barely memorize any formulas, and are capable of deriving them quickly. You don't learn to do that in any sort of algebra based physics. What is the relation between momentum and force? What does impulse mean? etc.

    This is well shown in the fact that higher physics courses generally require less and less formulas. GR you pretty much have the field equations, and a few definitions (Stress Energy Tensor, Christoffell connection).
  15. Aug 2, 2011 #14
    Sounds like engineering to me.
  16. Aug 2, 2011 #15
    Touche. I suppose I should have wrote introductory physics.
  17. Aug 2, 2011 #16


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    One of the reasons I decided to major in physics instead of chemistry or biology was that I didn't have to memorize as much. :wink:
  18. Aug 3, 2011 #17
    That is not quite correct. Mathematical physics attempts to understand the mathematics behind a "formula" whereas physics in general seeks to understand the physical reasons for an expression being correct.
    As for physics being opinion? I think you would be better suited to a literature degree if that is your belief, postmodernism is all the rage at the moment, but fortunately it does not extend into the natural sciences.
  19. Aug 3, 2011 #18
    This is so uninformed its not amusing. Your profile says you have yet to enter university. I would suggest you refrain from making these groundless generalisations until you take a real physics course, AP doesn't cut it. I would suggest in future you cease commenting on issues you do not understand.
  20. Aug 3, 2011 #19
    I admitted that I was wrong. I don't understand why you're getting defensive.
  21. Aug 3, 2011 #20
    It is good that you admitted you were wrong. The problem is someone seeking advice might listen to you, even though you lack experience and knowledge, and this would lead to a misconstrued view of physics. I think you should cease giving advice to college students until you yourself actually enter univeristy. I am sorry if i come off as defensive, but i found your opinion in regards to physics quite shocking from someone who claims to have an interest in the subject. I would advise you to study the subject in more depth before you make such ad hoc statements.
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