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Memorizing stuff and readers block

  1. Aug 7, 2008 #1
    OK... so i have started studying physics on my own at home... and now I am starting to face some problems...

    The problem is even though I can understand the equations and theorems, there are just too many of them to memorize...

    How do I overcome this problem?
    Is it necessary to memorize each and every equation i come by?
    And also which things should I remember and which things should I leave out for reference...??

    For example: suppose in simple mechanics all the laws can be derived from newtons 3 laws... so is it necessary to memorize equations that come by while studying projectiles...???

    Also while reading i am facing this strange problem which I call "readers block"
    While reading i use 2-3 books at a time, referring them to one another to fully understand a topic...
    For example -> while studying classical mechanics i also keep a vector calculus book open... and this helps me a lot...

    But after getting ahead for sometime, everything suddenly blocks up... and it feels like i am reading like a robot, and nothing enters my mind...

    help please?? :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2008 #2
    This is a problem a lot of people come across on my undergraduate degree. I have seen two philosophies, and in my opinion one is much more powerful then the other.

    1. Repetition. If you study something productively, i.e taking sensible breaks and looking after your brain while you study (plenty of water and rest ect...) eventually it will stick in there. A large majority of people i know go for this but I don't recommend it, it produces a human physics library not a physicist. It is essentially long term cramming...

    2. Make sure you just really understand the key principles from the areas you are studying. Normally this is enough for you to be able recall the key formula from which all others you can derive, maybe with a few exceptions. This you will learn from solving lots of problems from first principles on top of study.

    Also, providing you understand what you are doing, what is the shame in looking up a formula? If you know the principles and how and why a formula works then I'm not sure its imperative for it to be at your fingertips when the bookshelf will do...

    In my opinion you'll never remain well versed in an area of physics permanently unless you use it very regularly, not just studying it.

    When your mind blocks up go do something different for an hour. Drink some water and get a little exercise, or if you've done a lot of work that day, sleep. These work wonders for me.

    Kind Regards

  4. Aug 7, 2008 #3
    I'd agree with Barny's second method, as that works best for me. Little andedote here. In our chem class we had to memorize all the elements, not a big thing, but it can take a while and once you think you have them all you forgot one or two. As the class went on we used different elements many times that it became second nature.

    What I'm saying is that try to involve some sample problems for your study topic. The more you're using anything, in my experience the better it sticks to you.
  5. Aug 7, 2008 #4


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    There is no shame in looking up a formula. I myself have a terrible memory, and unless it's a formula I've been using ten times a day for the past two weeks, I won't remember it (and even then...). Thankfully, wikipedia has all the answers.

    Physics is about solving problems, not remembering formulas by heart.
  6. Aug 7, 2008 #5

    Barny, I agree with your second point...
    Also, I am glad to know that these problems are faced by other people, and so i dont have to be a walking talking library... ;)

    Thanks for the quick insight guys...and as I study, I guess after the boring part is over, the exciting parts will come...
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