How can I teach myself physics?

In summary, the individual is majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in physics and is seeking recommendations for books to further their understanding of physics. They have a strong background in calculus and have been recommended books such as "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion, "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by Griffiths, and "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics" by Griffiths. They are also considering self-study, but are advised to focus on their courses first and to consider the cost of purchasing these books.
  • #1
Henry Menendez
7
0
So, I am majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in physics at San Jose State University. I want to learn as much as possible with physics by reading books and taking my future courses at SJSU, but I don't know what books to read. Any recommendations? I want to get pretty close to becoming a theoretical physicist, physics fascinates me and I want to become as knowledgeable as possible with the subject. Please help. I am very good with calculus, it comes very easily to me.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
What kind of (specific) physics/mathematical background do you have? It depends on where you're starting from.
For intermediate physics, I learned using "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion.
For electricity and magnetism, "Introduction to Electrodynamics," by Griffiths.
For quantum mechanics, "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics," by Griffiths.
All of these books have been very helpful for me. I find that the most effective way to teach yourself is to read the book, work problems, and ask your professors questions (but this should come as part of your classes as well).

I do have one other question, though. Why not just learn from your physics courses? Extracurricular learning is great, but you ought to have a full plate with your classes in Mech E and physics. Save the extra load for when you're done with your physics classes or for when you're sure you'll have free time. Most of these books are significant investments (expensive textbooks), so you'll want to be sure you will derive some benefit from them before buying.
 
  • #3
anlon said:
What kind of (specific) physics/mathematical background do you have? It depends on where you're starting from.
For intermediate physics, I learned using "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion.
For electricity and magnetism, "Introduction to Electrodynamics," by Griffiths.
For quantum mechanics, "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics," by Griffiths.
All of these books have been very helpful for me. I find that the most effective way to teach yourself is to read the book, work problems, and ask your professors questions (but this should come as part of your classes as well).

I do have one other question, though. Why not just learn from your physics courses? Extracurricular learning is great, but you ought to have a full plate with your classes in Mech E and physics. Save the extra load for when you're done with your physics classes or for when you're sure you'll have free time. Most of these books are significant investments (expensive textbooks), so you'll want to be sure you will derive some benefit from them before buying.
I'm not taking a physics course yet, not till next semester, so I'm roughly a month and a half away from taking one. And I just find a huge passion for physics like I want to know nearly everything about it. I want to not just learn physics, I want to perfect it. That's why I want to go over books and learn a lot. @anlon
 

1. What are the best resources to use for teaching myself physics?

The best resources for teaching yourself physics will vary depending on your learning style and level of understanding. However, some commonly recommended resources include textbooks, online lectures and tutorials, physics forums and discussion boards, and practice problems or exercises. It is also helpful to have access to a calculator and basic physics laboratory equipment for hands-on learning.

2. How can I stay motivated while teaching myself physics?

One way to stay motivated while teaching yourself physics is to set specific goals and track your progress. This could include completing a certain number of chapters or practice problems per day or week. It can also be helpful to join a study group or find a study partner to hold you accountable and provide support. Additionally, regularly taking breaks and rewarding yourself for your progress can help maintain motivation.

3. Is it necessary to have a strong math background to teach myself physics?

While having a strong math background can be beneficial in understanding and applying physics principles, it is not necessarily required. Many introductory physics courses assume only basic algebra and trigonometry knowledge. With determination and persistence, anyone can teach themselves physics.

4. How can I effectively study and retain the information I am learning in physics?

One effective study method for physics is to actively engage with the material. This could include taking notes, asking questions, and practicing problems. It is also helpful to relate the concepts to real-world examples and to review and reinforce the material regularly. Additionally, seeking clarification from professors or tutors can aid in understanding and retention.

5. Are there any common mistakes I should avoid while teaching myself physics?

One common mistake when teaching yourself physics is simply memorizing equations and formulas without understanding their meaning or application. It is important to focus on understanding the underlying concepts and principles in order to apply them to different problems. Additionally, not practicing enough problems or relying solely on online resources without seeking guidance or feedback can hinder learning. It is also important to not get discouraged and to persist through difficult concepts or problems.

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
16
Views
407
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
797
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
14
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
18
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
24
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
4
Views
865
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
13
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
29
Views
550
Back
Top