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How to approach learning Physics and the relevant Maths

  1. Jun 2, 2015 #1
    My name is Jason,
    I am currently allmost through Electro technology course, and have studied DC, Magnetism and currently studying Alternating Current Circuits
    The maths i have been learning while studying this course would be some Algebra, Trigonometry, Pythagoras Theorem, vectors etc.
    I have never studied Calculus so i would need to learn this from scratch
    I am interested in learning Physics and have been studying it on the side of my current course
    I was wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction with the best way for me to get the foundations of Physics and any additional Mathematics i need to focus on?
    I have started online tutoring in Trigonometry and Physics also this week to start to grasp principles
    I have also purchased some text books from various university students
    Introductory Physics Chris Turville and Bobby Vaille
    Conceptual Physics Paul G Hewill
    Calculus 4th Edition
    Geometry and Trigonometry A.J Sadler
    My big interest in Physics is Astrophysics, and i am going to work towards this in my studies but i need to have all the foundations first, and the mathematics level achieved
    Cheers Jason
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2015 #2


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    Welcome to the forum.

    The single biggest thing you will want is calculus. Lots and lots of calculus. Then, depending on exactly where you go and what you do there are lots of other aspects to math that will be useful in physics.

    Just to toss out a few in no particular order: differential equations, differential geometry, matrix math, tensors, group theory. You could spend many years learning this stuff.

    The thing to do is to figure out where you want to go. You mention astrophysics. If you are interested in, for example, nuclear reactions in stars, that is one kind of math. If you are interested in gravity theory that is another kind of math. If you are interested in the theory that goes with understanding observations, building telescopes or radio telescopes, and related stuff, it's another kind of math. There are other specialties.

    Most people study this stuff in a university setting. A few brave souls do it on their own. If you are going to study at a school then check what that school wants for admission. That will be a good guide to what to study on your own before starting classes.
  4. Jun 3, 2015 #3
    Hello DEvans,
    Thankyou for your response I really appreciate you taking the time to help !!
    You have definitely made me aware that there are many branches in the astrophysics.
    I am interested in the Planets, solar System formation, stars and galaxies
    I am not sure where it will all take me but it has Allways been a big interest to me
    I am going to work on my Maths skills for a while and then I will look into university and what the requirements are definitely
    Thanks again for your thoughts :)
    Kind Regards Jason
  5. Jun 3, 2015 #4


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    There is a bunch of things that I am simply not understanding here, and I don't know if anyone can answer this without learning more about what's going on.

    1. What exactly is this "Electro technology course"? Is this an undergraduate degree program, or a vocational training? Why is there no calculus requirement here, or that you haven't had to need calculus for this course?

    2. Are you planning on finishing this, and THEN change direction and restart your undergraduate education in physics? Or do you intend to use your knowledge/degree/etc. from this Electro technology course to pursue higher-level education (i.e. beyond undergraduate level) in physics?

    3. Where in the world are you? Where in the world do you intend to go to school?

    4. What is your existing OFFICIAL level of education? You can study "on the side" as much as you want, but without proper credentials to certify that you have the knowledge, you can't go far. Without documentation, it doesn't exist.

  6. Jun 3, 2015 #5
    Hello ZapperZ

    Thank you for your response

    In regards to Electrotechnology, this is a Certificate 3 Electricians course and once completed i will be a licensed electrician.
    I am planning on finishing this certificate by the end of this year as i am almost through.
    I intend to use my existing knowledge and skills from the Electrotechnology studies to pursue higher level education beyond undergraduate level in physics
    My OFFICIAL level of education is undergraduate , and from there i have been studying and working in the Electrical Power Generation industry for over 10 years
    I work full time long hours and i am always learning new levels of subjects in my current field, I put extensive hours into studying in my spare time and i also have weekly tutoring in Mathematics/Physics, i also have a good understanding of Magnetism from my current studies so i intend to build on my Mathematics skills first in order to pursue further Physics studies.
    Kind Regards,
  7. Jun 4, 2015 #6
    And how exactly are you going to do this? Since your electrotechnology course does not require calculus, it will be quite useless for a graduate degree in physics (especially for such a thing as astrophysics). Sure, you will have a nice knowledge of electricity and magnetism. But if there are no official credentials that show that you can handle physics such as QM, stat mech, classical mechanics, then you will not get into a grad school. Self-studying is useful, but it will not suffice to get you into grad school since you won't have an official transcript that says that you passed the courses.
  8. Jun 4, 2015 #7
    Hello Micromass,
    I think you have misunderstood let me explain further.
    I am only not only doing my studies at home, I did mention that I will be working on my Mathematics first and using some of my knowledge as a stepping stone into further studies.
    I will be attending Calculus classes and algebra and all Maths that is required this year until my Maths is at the level needed.
    Then I will be completing 2 units with OUA open university before the end of the year, this is the entry level required as I have spoken to Murdoch university and they have advised this.
    I am currently enrolled as undergraduate in Open University for classical Physics principles of Physics which has topics such as
    Classical Physics, engineering, metallurgy, physical, biological and health sciences, some of the content will include
    Vectors,linear and circular motion, dynamics of mass and weight motion,energy, plus many more which are found in the unit description online
    This gives me a good understanding of Classical Physics
    Then I will also enrol for the prerequisite mathematics unit
    Once a pass is achieved in these 2 units I can then apply for the Bachelor of Science with a Major in Physics in 2016
    It will be a exciting road and I have all the drive to succeed
    Thank you for your input and I hope this has cleared things up for you
    Kind regards
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