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How to self study physics?

  • Thread starter Athanasios
  • Start date
So, having seen micromass's marvelous thread on how to self study mathematics I was wondering whether someone could create a similar thread just about physics? Because it would be really helpful to get advice on how to approach the subject and which textbooks to use and maybe it could be divided into two parts, like physics based on high school math and calculus based physics - just a suggestion. So, anyone up for this challenge? :)
 

DEvens

Education Advisor
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If you can Google up some university course descriptions you can find out what texts they use for their classes. Often you can get these for cheap at on-line booksellers if you Google those up.

Personally, it is necessary for me to "do the homework" to understand a subject. So yes, read the texts. But also do the questions in the texts. Do them out in full and write them up as though you were going to hand them in to an instructor. If I don't do that then I don't understand the subject.

For some subjects I find the Schaum's outline series very valuable. They are quite modestly priced and full of worked examples. Just don't let them be the only text you ever read on a subject. They are good for practice and for getting past a concept that is giving you trouble. But they are not (in most cases) reference texts.
 
I'm not sure about the coursera course because I don't fancy videos as a way to learn even though I see they will reference some textbooks. I believe I would be more comfortable with a textbook written in a self-study fashion and also have something like a Schaum's outline series because they seem to be full of exercises.
 
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I self study a lot, but the books get very expensive. Especially once you move into the more modern areas of physics. Classical mechanics, E&M, and elementary Quantum Mechanics are pretty much unified across all books on their methods of teaching and order of presentation. When you get past those subjects, the presentation from book to book is drastically different in both complexity and description and you honestly need many books on the same subject to get a proper view. If you are interested in a particular subject I would be glad to give you the list of books I have used, personally.
 
@cpsinkule Well it would be really helpful if you could give me a book or books on classical mechanics, E&M and elementary QM, but what is the needed mathematical background for those? Because I have not taken calculus yet. Would you advise on first learning calculus and then going through the process of learning physics, or should I just find some algebra based physics books?
 

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