I'm interested in physics but have no idea what path to take (14 years old)

In summary, this person found PF through Google search and is looking for advice on self-esteem and guidance on what to study in order to become a physicist. They are from a poor family and are not confident in their math and physics skills, but they are doing well in school. They suggest that you find a club or organization that you are interested in and then find a way to get help from a teacher or counselor. They also suggest looking for self-paced online resources.
  • #36
this has been setting on the back burner for about a day. So here is what I have to say.

You should find that the current normal HS STEM curriculum should provide you with the means to properly prepare you for university if you use them diligently. Don't concern yourself too much beyond your present responsibilities so as not to stumble on the fundamentals. Make those fundamentals solid.You find that memorization generally is not too much of a problem when it comes to things that you are truly interested in. Stuff seems to stick. You should try to develop a good learning style to facilitate your understanding. There are some generic behaviors that help everyone and one is preparing for each class. There is usually a reading assignment for the next class, Do it. Read that which the teacher will be discussing in the next class. Try to understand it but at least get the gist of it. In any event, your preparation will make the class a better experience. If you have issues, you are prepared to bring them up at this time. If you do not reconcile any issues now they may be harder to deal with later.

When doing the reading assignment don't just read the words, read for ideas. What are the words telling you? Summarize the content in your own words. Write it down. Say it out loud. See it, Say it, Hear it. Do it.
If the reading includes examples work through them with pen and paper. The same with derivations. Remember there is logic involved and it should be apparent, if not you must find out why. Did you miss something in your previous readings? Are you misinterpreting something or making an invalid assumption? Try not to leave unanswered questions.

With regard to learning some physics now may I suggest that you start with the three-volume series "Understanding Physics" by Issac Asimov" it is inexpensive, easy to read and only use basic math. They will show you the broad landscape of the field of physics from which you can orient yourself.

Give yourself a chance.
 
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  • #37
gleem said:
may I suggest that you start with the three-volume series "Understanding Physics" by Issac Asimov" it is inexpensive, easy to read and only use basic math. They will show you the broad landscape of the field of physics from which you can orient yourself.
I read those books wheh I was in high school, more than 50 years ago. I don't remember whether it was before I took my first physics class in 11th grade, or while I was taking it. They're not a substitute for a real textbook, because they don't have math or exercises, but they give a good orientation to physics as gleem noted. Except of course for the parts which were developed afterwards, e.g. much of elementary-particle physics.
 
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  • #38
LenaWenaKena said:
I've recently taken an interest in physics(Due to popular science/ books and natural curiosity). But I have no idea what path to take so I could study it.

LenaWenaKena said:
The funny thing is though I’ve never touched a physics textbook, and yet the feeling persist.
OP: Let's back up a bit. Let's put the math, mastery of techniques, competitions, ... aside. What topics interest you?
 
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  • #39
For the most part, I find quantum physics and relativity very fascinating- the fact that reality is that way is mind-blowing. I also find it fascinating the extent to which math could be to explain the universe, and that there are still more questions to be answered. And that fact that physics could be applied to other fields and technologies (eg. quantum computing). It's a quest for knowledge I want to understand how it came to be and hopefully add on to.
 
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  • #40
LenaWenaKena said:
For the most part, I find quantum physics and relativity very fascinating- the fact that reality is that way is mind-blowing. I also find it fascinating the extent to which math could be to explain the universe, and that there are still more questions to be answered. And that fact that physics could be applied to other fields and technologies (eg. quantum computing). It's a quest for knowledge I want to understand how it came to be and hopefully add on to.
In this case, you should probably start with special relativity theory. It basically explains the consequences of the fact that the speed of light is constant. You do not need sophisticated math like you would for general relativity so it will be doable at your age.
 
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  • #41
1 Develop a keen interest in how things work, reading, watching videos, making , fixing things with good tools
2 If good at math, you may understand more for cause and effects
3 if better at intuition by observation and can repair engines, make electronic kits , you might become an engineer that needs at least 4 yrs of math and physics with undergrad work.
4. There are many ways to learn, YouTube, books,
Realize that all the answers to your questions are online, you just have to figure out the right questions. According to Socratic method, you start simple and get more focused on each question.

Lookup Brilliant Site and Khan Institute for Physics
 
  • #42
LenaWenaKena said:
Thank you for the advice! Right now I'm taking high school-level geometry and biology. But one thing I hate about learning in school is the constant memorization- many times in math I have no idea how they derived equations/methods/theorems. It makes me feel that the problem-solving skills I have are really inadequate to learn physics.
Whenever this comes up, you can always make a post here or on any other math community. People are usually helpful enough to give an explanation.

Also, for some fun watching, check out this playlist:
 
  • #43
As an easy but stimulating read, i recommend The Universe and Dr. Einstein, on special relativity for the layman. I read it and loved it in about tenth grade, so about age 15. less than $10. also available in libraries for free, no doubt. (Even Einstein recommended it, in the preface.)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0486445194/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 

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