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Courses Learning material after taking a course

  1. Jun 21, 2005 #1
    Well, here I am, done with calculus, physics, diff eq, linear algebra, blah blah blah..

    Thing is, even though I did well, and was able to work the exam problems, I don't feel like I have a good understanding of a lot of this stuff. I would like to buy a book, cd, video, whatever, that can help with a general understanding of the concepts presented in these courses. Applications of calculus, diff eq, etc. I picked up Stephen Hawking's Universe in a Nutshell on cd, and have been listening to it, but I find that I just can't seem to grasp a lot of these things (bosons, fermions, imaginary time, etc.) I can listen, and I can grasp what is being said, but I can't make myself think like this and believe these things with no hands on experience with any of it. The universe seems so vast, and I wonder how any of these people can come up with such things as string theory, quantum mechanics, supergravity, etc. Maybe a better understanding of the mathematics of it all would help, but I don't know where to begin.

    Right now, i'm working on finishing up Organic Chemistry, and aside from molecular orbitals (which seems important, but was pretty much skipped in our courses), I am pretty good with chemistry (at least reactions.)

    Any suggestions for me? Non-textbooks for those who have taken courses but aren't seeing the full picture? I need a deeper understanding of the fundamentals..

    Last edited: Jun 21, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2005 #2
    I almost made a post about this subject a few days ago, i feel similarly that that even though i have passed the exam i haven't really "got it" yet. Not sure how normal it is, hopefully not all too rare.
  4. Jun 21, 2005 #3
    I liked this book helped a little understand other physicist. Its a book called Feyman Rainbow by Leonard Ldodinow. Pretty good book from my point of view about a bunch of disccusion with Feyman from a physics student(post doc) who felt he was wasting his time cause he wasnt understanding/getting it . Get if from the library =)
  5. Jun 21, 2005 #4

    simple answer: take your textbook and prove everything in it & solve every problem without looking at any of the proofs given. write down the definitions and the statements of the theorems and then... close the book. try to figure everything out for yourself.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2005
  6. Jun 21, 2005 #5
    I feel you. Poke your nose around here and work problems that other people have. It helps, alot.
  7. Jun 22, 2005 #6
    Regarding taking textbooks and proving things, I am not sure that is the answer to this. I was able to do the proofs on the exams, I was able to work the problems, you have to be able to to get A's. The problem is that I need some real-world application like books, discussions, etc. I think taking a look at the post doc student's questions in the book recommended might help, but i'm not nearly at that level, so that might be a bit beyone my grasp since i'm not a physics major and i'm still an undergraduate. I guess now that i'm done with Organic II, i'll spend the rest of the summer studying for the ACS exam, poking around on here, learning languages, etc. Maybe I just expect too much, dunno.

    Thanks, guys. I hope that I can get some of this stuff down a bit before Fall. Suggestions of other application/discussion books would be great as well!

  8. Jun 22, 2005 #7
    Personally when I feel like I don't understand a certain topic, I try to teach it to someone. That'll help give you a different, more complete, perspective.
  9. Jun 22, 2005 #8
    what exactly are you studying...
    mmm if phys/math penrose book might be a good start :Road to Reality people have been complimenting on this forum

    I would also suggest
    "Computational Beauty of Nature" By Gary Flake
  10. Jun 22, 2005 #9
    Thanks! I am studying to be a Chemical Engineer/ Materials Scientist (double majoring, not sure where I want to go with it, maybe nano.)

    I just really want to have a good understanding of the underlying principals of math, physics, etc. I am doing pretty well with chem at least.

    Thanks, I will check those out!

    Devious, I wanted to tutor in math, actually, but they make it stringent hours-wise at my school, and you have to pass an exam in algebra (which i'd honestly probably have to study for because I probably don't remember some of the specific formulas they use frequently in those courses.) It just wasn't feasible at the time due to my full time job and full time coures load. Thankfully I won't have a job anymore in just 4 more weeks!

  11. Jun 24, 2005 #10
    nobody responded to what i said so i wonder if everyone thinks i'm just trying to be funny.
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