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How to learn physics if I know calculus but zero physics?

Hi, I have decided I like to learn some physics as I know absolutely zero physics and also including chemistry or biology, and I’d like to learn a bit of all 3, to the high school level perhaps. It seems that from, what I’ve read if I want to learn chemistry, I’ll first have to know physics, and to learn some basic biology I’ll need to know chemistry and physics.I believe since I know calculus, I’ll have the prerequisite mathematics required for most of the beginner physics so it shouldn’t be an issue.

I’ve been homeschooled since 12 and never wanted to or had a desire to learn physics, chemistry or biology. However, In recent years I have wanted to get at least a general knowledge of them as I feel lacking in knowledge to my peers around me. I have mostly focused on mathematics and computer science and neglected the other sciences that most students learn in high school. I am 20 currently.

I have self taught myself most things I know including calculus and now want to teach myself these science subjects. But I just don’t know where to start at all with such a basic/non existent level of knowledge on these subjects!

I think I’d like to take physics further than the other 2 sciences as I find it a lot more interesting. I just want a basic understanding of the other two.


What books or sites can I go to, in order to start the journey of learning these subjects? Will I need to use a child’s science book to start or are there other books I can use?

Any recommendations on how to go about this is much appreciated.
 

fresh_42

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Here's a post where I've collected a couple of links which deal with self-study:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/self-teaching-gcse-and-a-level-maths.933639/#post-5896947

It doesn't mean they all apply on your situation, but they are definitely worth a look. As you've especially asked for books, I recommend to have a view on those books which are freely available on OpenStax. I think one can even order them printed, but I'm not sure. They will at least help you to understand where you are at, don't cost you any, and are peer reviewed and recommended by a university. They start at a level which is similar to high school knowledge and you can see yourself how far you get with them.
 

verty

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I have many thoughts about this. The one I keep coming back to is that you are 20 and were home-schooled, and it's time to take up the mantle and drive yourself forward. So a book that needs you to put in effort is what I will choose.

First, I recommend watching the Walter Lewin lectures on Youtube. They should give you some intuition about the subject, what it is about. Then, choose one of these two books:

1. University Physics by Young & Freedman. It is a most comprehensive book that was used in Walter Lewin's class. If you want to learn the physics that he was teaching, this is the book. It uses calculus throughout and has many problems per chapter. It will need you to put in effort but that is kind of the point. You can learn as much or as little as you choose.

2. Physics by Giancoli. Based on posts here on PF.com where people have said they are using that book, it is very popular for algebra-based classes. This would be far easier but not as comprehensive. But as a first exposure, you would not have to put much effort in.

I leave the choice up to you. Earlier editions of both of these books are available for not a lot of money.
 

symbolipoint

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Have you the equivalent of at least one year of college level Calculus, and the correspondingly needed basic Introductory and Intermediate Algebra courses both concepts and skills? You are/would be qualified to start studying Physics, and Chemistry, and Biology. You would start in those introductory level courses. For Physics, you should begin with the Calculus-based courses.

Instead of looking for any books or other resources, you may learn better at a community college, at which you would have textbook AND lecture AND laboratory instruction. One can start introductory level Chemistry without first having any Physics, but it may be better to start Physics before Chemistry in order to progress further. Since you learned some on your own so far and were also home-schooled, you probably have been missing laboratory exercises and experiences, so going to a community college would be best.

In case your Mathematics is assessed (through actual testing as part of admission & enrollment process), you could or may need to start at basic Introductory/Elementary Algebra, and if you do so, this is not really bad. You would need the extra or repeated instruction; and you would likely do very well, although this would delay your start into Physics. Still, it does not all stop you from starting into Introductory Chemistry or Biology.

The Mathematics leading to ones study of Physics is most typically Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus (Elementary Functions And Trigonometry),Calculus 1 (mostly Differential) , and Calculus 2 (mostly Integral).
 

vela

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I'll second the recommendation for taking a class at a community college. It's not assumed that you've had any physics before. The main complication is that calculus will be a prerequisite. I'm not sure how that'll work out since you learned calculus on your own.

If you want to just get a book and learn intro physics on your own, I'll also second the recommendation for a used copy of Young and Freedman. It's a much better book than the three OpenStax volumes.
 

ZapperZ

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I believe since I know calculus, I’ll have the prerequisite mathematics required for most of the beginner physics so it shouldn’t be an issue.

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I have self taught myself most things I know including calculus and now want to teach myself these science subjects.
What level of independent, external testing did you go through to be able to judge that you "... know calculus..."?

Zz.
 
What level of independent, external testing did you go through to be able to judge that you "... know calculus..."?

Zz.
I’ve passed calculus 1 and 2 exams.
 

symbolipoint

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I’ve passed calculus 1 and 2 exams.
What were the conditions? Was this testing done at an established institution, or something else? Done through an official testing service? Was the testing done only for course passage through your homeschooling method or system?

Retention is one thing for Calculus; but testing is another. Problem is that skills and concepts can become weak, several days after finish.

Much more important is, how is your Algebra and Trigonometry?
 

ZapperZ

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I’ve passed calculus 1 and 2 exams.
Explain. You said that you "... self taught myself most things I know including calculus ... ". Please explain what "calculus 1 and 2 exams" means here. Who administered it? Is this in an official transcript or documentation somewhere?

Zz.
 

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