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How do I learn about physics?

  1. Oct 24, 2012 #1
    Hi, please note before you read: I am 16, I have a C in algebra 2, I am in highschool.

    In my chemistry class, we have been over (grazed, barely touched) some entry level physics and it FASCINATED me. I have never been one for mathematics either, and I am horrible at learning in a class where attention isn't directed at me (ie public schools). I want to improve my overall knowledge in both mathematics and physics and I know for a fact that physics is an extremely difficult subject that I will barely be able to understand at my age. I really want to be able to take my education into my own hands through books. My main question is: What books can I read that will improve my math skills/knowledge, and after that what books can I read to get an introduction to physics?

    Please dont post rudely I really want to learn, just tell me some entry level books, preferably classics, I love classic books.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2012 #2


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    neal301, Welcome here to Physics Forums! This is a place for sharing and learning. Members here have a wide spectrum of education and experience. All are willing to assist folks like you on their path towards more scientific knowledge.

    I especially like the Dover Science Books. I'm pretty sure you can find some great physics...at your level, and really cheap! See: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_...ver+science+books&sprefix=dover+scien,aps,387

    Once you begin your search, if you run into doubts or questions, come right back here to PF and ask away! Members here are always willing to help a true searcher.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Oct 24, 2012 #3
    Thank you very much bobby, I especially like the one 'Foundations and Fundamentals of mathematics' sort of exactly what I was looking for!

    More suggestions still welcome.
  5. Oct 24, 2012 #4
    Welcome to Physics Forums!

    Try The Feynman Lectures on Physics, that's about as classic as it gets. The material in this series is mostly for physics undergraduates in a lower division, intro to physics type course, so it shouldn't be too much a problem for you, if you're truly interested in the subject and take your time with it.

    Physics is tough. Math never came naturally to me, (no matter what my friends and family say), it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, but is extremely rewarding. I would also encourage you to look into it as a college major. I myself got a B or B- in my high school algebra 2 course, and I'm just about to graduate with a BS in Astrophysics, so I think you can do it too. I think once you get into physics, take some calculus, and see how it starts to all fit together, you'll find math to be much more interesting, and hopefully a little less daunting.

    I also encourage you to come back to PF with questions! It gives us here something to do :wink:

    Best of luck to you!
  6. Oct 24, 2012 #5


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    It also depends on what exactly you want to learn about physics. I suggest working hard on getting your math skills a little better and taking a physics class in High School. You could probably find an old physics book on Craigslist or something for very cheap if you wanted to start now. However, if you are more interested in "general knowledge" of physics instead of the nitty gritty details, you can find a wealth of information online or at any bookstore.
  7. Oct 24, 2012 #6
    Yes I was planning on taking a physics class my senior year. Thanks soothsayer really encouraging!
  8. Oct 24, 2012 #7
    I would recommend more standard textbooks than Feynman's Lectures for an introduction to physics. I really liked Giancoli's Physics.

    In my opinion, Feynman's Lectures are more helpful as a review. His insights are golden in the context of existing knowledge.

    Also study the hell out of calculus. Be one with the integral and derivative!
  9. Oct 24, 2012 #8
    I went through the SAME THING I took physics in high school and I fell in love with it. Problem was I couldn't even solve for X to save my life. I couldn't add or subtract fractions, I couldn't do long division, I had a hard time adding/subtracting single digit numbers in my head. (I was in special ed. They teach you SQUAT in those classes.) I failed physics miserably. I got a 42. I really wanted to take physics in college. I secretly wanted to major in it. So I bought these books:


    I would not go to the next chapter till I knew I had every problem in the chapter quiz right.

    Then I got this book:[URL]https://www.amazon.com/College-Algebra-Demystified-Rhonda-Huettenmueller/dp/0071439285/ref=pd_sim_b_2[/URL]

    Then did the same here.
    Then this one:


    I skipped algebra then I took precallc then i took calculus, passed them all, and did great in my physics classes, now Im majoring in it.

    Just do a lot of self teaching, if you do that, you'll be fine,
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  10. Oct 25, 2012 #9
    Yeah, I used the Giancoli books as an undergrad, and I think they're pretty good.
  11. Oct 25, 2012 #10
    That's actually a really cool story. I've also found that when I'm struggling with a specific topic in class, if I just sit down with a book or two and read through what it has to say about it, over and over until it sticks, I understand it much better than if someone, like my prof, just told me about it in class. I would suggest the OP try this, if he feels his math is not up to par with what what is expected of him. If your math is there, the physics will definitely follow--physics mostly just adds concepts and equations to the math you already know.
  12. Oct 29, 2012 #11
    Wow guys thanks for all the replies! Loved the story.
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