1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How much studying is enough for persuing TF

  1. Jul 20, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm 17 years old and I've recently quitted computer gaming and persued a secondary interest which is physics in general (mostly Theoretical physics).

    I'm studying 6-10 hours a day physics (if it is not a school day) and the particular book I'm using is including these chapters:

    1. The physics world.
    2. Phycisists view of the world.
    3. Movement.
    4. Newtons laws.
    5. Energy.
    6: A chapter about momentum and impulse laws.
    7. Thermodynamics/thermophysics.
    8. Climate and weather.
    9. Electricity.
    10. The modern physics progression.
    11. Nuclear physics.
    12. Relativity and the standardmodell.

    My question is, is it worth studying these chapters? It's on a basic level as I'm currently in HS right now. Also is it enough to study 6-10 hours a day with physics? I really do wanna become a theoretical phycisist. Or is it simply enough too little of study time?

    I can rush through one chapter in maybe 12 - 20 hours, should I just buy a book about theoretical physics instead of working through this one or is it essential that I gather the superficial knowledge this one has to offer me (not very superficial as there's many complex questions)?

    Also I do usually have trouble knowing the correct answer to a question so I look it through the internet to learn about it, is this a common problem for you? And how do I overcome that habit?

    Sorry for bombarding this post with questions.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2014 #2
    Being a theoretical physicist is an awesome goal! I would say studying that much independently while still in high school is a great start and that the books you listed cover topics that you will need to master on your path towards your goal. Make sure to be studying lots of mathematics as well as physics!

    You are 17 so I assume you will be starting your senior year of high school, you should start researching undergraduate universities with physics programs. I would recommend finding a school that emphasizes undergraduate research programs, as they are very helpful for getting into graduate school.

    The main thing you need to realize is that the path to becoming a theoretical physicist is a long and challenging one. If you are completely knew to physics, you should definitely start off by studying Newtons laws and working out problems from a textbook. Once you master Calculus and Newtons laws you'll have completed the first step on your quest! Good luck!
  4. Jul 20, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    What theoretical physics? The term itself means nothing without some context.

    Studying 6-10 hours a day is a good way to burn yourself out. If you're up to speed on calculus you should look into the freshman calculus based physics series. Mechanics -> EM -> Modern.
  5. Jul 20, 2014 #4
    One is notburntout if it is done fore pleasure.
  6. Jul 20, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hi Phycisists -

    If you want to become a physicist, there is one sure path: study physics in college. Read Zapper's thread:


    At your age, focus on math - especially algebra and trigonometry. Practice problems until you are really comfortable and competent.

    Self-study is fine, but it will only get you so far, IMO. Good luck!
  7. Jul 20, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It's good to start with an overview, since physics is a broad field covering numerous natural phenomena.

    One can be a theoretical, experimental and/or applied physicist in areas as diverse as astronomy and astrophysics, plasma physics, nuclear physics, high energy particle physics, quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, mechanics/dynamics, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, optics (including lasers), electromagnetism, . . . .

    Follow lisab's recommendation.

    And browse PF.

    Also, Hyperphysics (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hph.html) is a good reference, as are the two physics societies.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook