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I want to learn it all. I'll need a guide.

  1. Oct 30, 2014 #1
    I feel as if I should begin with a brief introduction, my name is Andrew. I'm currently a junior in high school and I aspire to pursue a doctorate degree in Quantum Physics.
    I've always been immensely intrigued by physics. As a kid I always questioned so many things and as I grew up I realized that physics holds the answers to many of those questions.

    Anyhow, as my educational background goes, I've taken Algebra I, Geometry, and I'm taking Algebra II this year. Feeling as if this is immensely slow, I've put it upon myself to use the Algebra II syllabus to read ahead and study. Additionally, I've borrowed a Trig/PreCal book from the math department head, and I've been studying that as well.

    My question is, what now? I want to learn so much so quickly, and being still a junior; I feel the wait until college is bothersome.

    Could anyone lend some advice to help in my pursuit?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2014 #2
    Do not worry about the speed at which you learn things: only whether you have learned them as fully as you are capable of doing so. You will find yourself understanding discussions and naturally asking questions about specific things above the current level of your studies once you understand them properly. Rushing through the beginning will only end in answers to questions you never pondered being unceremoniously dumped into memory, and much of it will then seem meaningless.
    That being said, here is a good start to your studies: http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~Gadda001/goodtheorist/index.html .
  4. Oct 31, 2014 #3
    Its best to read things in order and not jump ahead as physics can be cumulative in nature. There are a ton of free stuff/textbooks online of varying quality but on the other hand, buying textbooks, the way all university students/physics phds learn, can get expensive. Nevertheless, the textbooks I used in college listed in order are:

    Undergraduate Classes
    1. Calculus: "Calculus Early Transcendentals" by James Stewart
    2. General Introductory Physics: "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" Vol. 1 and 2 by Serway and Beichner
    3. Elementary Differential Equations: "Elementary Differential Equations" by Boyce and DiPrima
    4. Partial Differential Equations: "An Introduction: Partial Differential Equations", by Walter Strauss (this book sucks, use a different one)
    5. Error Analysis: "An Introduction to Error Analysis", by John Taylor
    6. Classical Mechanics: "Classical Mechanics", by John Taylor
    7. Electricity and Magnetism: "Introduction to Electrodynamics", by David Griffiths
    8. Optics: "Optics" by Eugene Hecht
    9. Statistical Mechanics: "Thermal Physics", by Daniel Schroeder
    10. Quantum Mechanics: "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", by David Griffiths
    11. Electronics: "The Art of Electronics", by Horowitz and Hill
    12. Solid State Physics: "Solid State Physics", by Ashcroft and Mermin
    13. Particle Physics: "Introduction to Elementary Particles", by David Griffiths

    Graduate Classes
    All of it over again, but harder! Plus Quantum Field Theory.

    If I were doing things all over again though from highschool I would have spent my high school years focusing on math not physics. After finishing through undergraduate and then graduate school in physics I never had enough time to take enough math courses. Physics depends on math and it occasionally happens that Professors end up teaching topics where you would have a far better understanding of had one had more math. Occasionally group theory, number theory, complex analysis, and differential geometry can crop up, but I remember that it wasn't part of the official course recommendations when I was in undergraduate school. My only other two recommendation is to do the problems at the end of each chapter as physics is as much a skill as the act of knowing how things work. And lastly, pick a university that has a large physics department.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
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