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How can I get motivated/How do I know if I am learning everything I need to learn?

  1. Feb 16, 2006 #1
    I am a 21-year-old community college student. I am majoring in CS, but I plan on giving myself a self-education in physics equivalent to a bachelor's degree.

    My problem is I am lazy... :)
    How can I motivate myself to learn? Also, is there a good sample of a physics curriculum at an Ivy League school like MIT on the net somewhere?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2006 #2
    go to http://ocw.mit.edu . You can watch the Physics lecture videos from MIT there. They also have course notes and things of that form.
  4. Feb 16, 2006 #3


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    You'll never technically know.

    Just keep learning. Don't just stop because you reached Bachelor Degree level.
  5. Feb 17, 2006 #4


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    Most colleges and universities post the requirements for their degrees (including physics) on their Web sites. You'll also often find syllabi for individual courses, lecture notes, etc. Or are you thinking of something else?
  6. Feb 17, 2006 #5


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    That is still skewed though.

    He won't be writing exams, and if he chooses to, he won't be mark them with the rigour a professor might.

    All that stuff.

    If you are going into self-study, worry less about what you need to know for a Bachelor's and learn what you want to know. And, most importantly challenge yourself with your own questions.
  7. Feb 17, 2006 #6
  8. Feb 17, 2006 #7


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    I've been accused of bursting people's bubbles, so here I go again....

    There is a difference between doing a self-study, and getting a "bachelor's degree" in physics. You should not confuse between the two. A B.Sc degree in physics has to fulfill a certain set of requirements, both by the school and by the students, especially in terms of curriculum. Unless you have a full blown physics laboratory at your disposal, you will not have any laboratory experience that is required out of every physics majors. Thus, already what you will learn is missing what undergraduate physics major will have to go through.

    Take note also that learning physics involves more than just reading a book. You get a superficial knowledge of the subject matter simply from doing that. It is when you have to tackle a particular problem and apply the concept into that can you demonstrate a knowledge beyond just the superficial level. This is what is required out of a physics major.

    Being a physics major also doesn't mean just learning physics. A large part of it is learning mathematics. It is why most physics majors take a lot of calculus and differential equations classes, and even mathematical physics classes. You need A LOT of mathematical skills to do physics.

    Moral of the story: don't delude yourself into thinking that you can get the same, equivalent level of education as a physics major. Just study it at your own pace and consider that as an added knowledge.

  9. Feb 17, 2006 #8


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    It's not bursting the bubble. It's being real about it.

    We are all have our share of bubbles that need to burst.
  10. Feb 17, 2006 #9
    You remind me of a couple of the physics majors in my QM class. Trying to tell me that QFT would be completely useless to an electrical engineer. What they don't realize is that for me, physics is more like a hobby. It just wouldn't be fun if I had to do it as a job.
  11. Feb 17, 2006 #10


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    So how does that remind you of your physics majors? I did say that study it in terms of getting extra knowledge, not with the intention of getting the same level as a physics major.

  12. Feb 17, 2006 #11
    Oh, don't worry, it does nothing more than remind me. Mostly due to the fact that a) one of them used the phrase "burst your bubble" and b) we were talking about non-physics majors learning physics on the side. :wink:
  13. Feb 17, 2006 #12
    Wow. This is something! Thanks a lot for posting this.:smile:
  14. Feb 17, 2006 #13
    Zandorian: do you enjoy games; if so then perhaps you can gear that towards a passion in creating Physics simulations OR realtimes Physics Simulations. This way you would be integrating your studies of computer science with your interest in physics...and slowly you will begin your pursuit of a higher level in physics(with or without a academic foundation in physics)...

    The key is to get started on coding your own 3D engine which will lead to a physics engine and then the higher more complex stuff.

    I hope your college is geared towards programming...I suggest the following

    [0] Look at libsdl.org (or search SDL-simpledirectmedia layer
    [1] If you can get your hands on David Eberly's Code...Its not open source
    so if you can't find it go buy the book because the majority comes with it.
    [2] Pick up an OpenGL book (the bible, primatech series or redbook)
    [3] gamedev.net
    [4] ogre3d...u can start with ogre3d if you want because its prebuilt and you can begin coding physics stuff...but you'd need to learn to compile all the stuff.
    [5] Pick up a good standard intro to physics text like Serway
    [6] Numerical Recipes in C or C++(very IMPORTANT)
    [7] Data Structures TExt(or look at STL)
    [8] Flocks & boids may be a good first sim to do.

    if you begin to build an interest in building sims that may lead you to a higher interest in building physics sims eg.
    RigidBody,Particle COllisions,Billiards,Astrophys Sims(cosmo/stellar), thermal models, even moleculaar modelling, ragdoll physics, solid states/crystal geometry etc.

    I found that once th ecoding interest and behavoiur to code non-stop was there the physics came naturally(but then again I did the physics first).

    Once you have a proper rendering schematic...look to
    code the
    [0] first the Motion Equations,without mass
    [1] motion equations with mass/Forces
    [2] MultiBody Problems(learn scene Managment)
    [3] Rotational Physics(i'm on this stage)
    [4] Lastly whatever advanced physics you would like to go to...
    (i'm looking to go into astrophys/planetary/molecular modelling

    Its a long journey but i think its worth it.
    Hope that helps.
  15. Feb 18, 2006 #14
    Thanks for all your advice guys. I have known about MIT OCW. I have been using it a lot because my physics prof SUCKS. He isn't very good at explaining things.

    thanks again
  16. Feb 18, 2006 #15

    sure did, thanks, and good idea
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