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Odd computer geeks wants to learn phy and math

  1. Apr 4, 2009 #1

    So i'm a crazy computer geek, I've been programming since I was young, I turned Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist before I turned 18 a few months ago. Unfortunately, I'm not very good with academia, I have an IQ of 121 but I was diagnosed with depression (probably primary) some psychotic tendencies and possibly ADD. I failed my 12th grade last year and I attempted it again this and I know i'll fail again the way i gave the exam, mostly it was because I loathed the school and the system and was in a bout of psychosis and depression. I now moved away from my crazy home into a hostel to study better.

    My very last attempt now is to give A levels in November privately, I know it sounds crazy but there was a time when i was 12-13 and i started actually learning physics and then moved on to computer science because it was very practical. And back then i would get nothing less than a 90% in physics and math, my mental disorders set in about when i was 14 and that when the grades took a steady slope down.

    My crazy plan now is to be able to study physics and math like i studied computers, I looked at sub branch and tried everything from Assembly language to Flash and AJAX, so I want be able to know and understand all major aspects of physics properly, i know i don't have much time but i dont have much of a choice either.

    According to my a levels i need to know :
    Pure Mathematics (I want to know Calculus)

    And in physics its quite more or less like high school physics but i want to go ahead of it and learn the basics to the major branches of physic like classical mechanics, relativity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics.

    So far I have Calculus by Thomas/Finney, some books on pure math, Fundamentals of physics by Resnick/Halliday also I love electronics so I got Art of electronics by Horowitz/Hill and lastly I have Chemical Principles by Atkins/Jones will that be any helpful in understand math and physics better? Maybe with thermo dynamics and quantum mechanics?

    I need to know what to start with first, what order should I learn things, I don't know advanced math like calculus and trigonometry well, should I cope with that first?

    Thanks so much.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2009 #2
    Physics for Engineers and Scientists by Serway/Beichner is an excellent year 1 university textbook. It covers the basics on everything.

    With an IQ of 121 I am guessing all learning comes easy to you so you will breeze right through this text. It has many excellent diagrams and photos of experimental setups and the practice questions are practical and challenging.

    As for your mental disorders, I'd seriously suggest you start a workout routine that will help you quelch your ADD and depression. Remember, there are alot of endogenous 'drugs' in your brain that help you to maintain a balanced state, its simply a matter of releasing them and excercise is an invaluable tool in doing so. I would also suggest trying to eradicate certain chemicals from your diet such as saccharin and acesulfame-pottasium, since they are linked to some disorders that cause an inability to properly focus one's mental acuity.

    Finally, to get a good understanding of what order to learn your above disciplines, I'd suggest you go to a University's website and look up the course order they suggest for Engineering students. The logical steps will be laid out there, especially for 1st year students.

  4. Apr 4, 2009 #3
    Do you mean 121 kid IQ or adult IQ?
  5. Apr 4, 2009 #4
    People worry about IQ?

    If anything, it's just a measure of how lazy someone is mentally.
  6. Apr 5, 2009 #5

    I took the Adult IQ test.

    Chaos, I looked at the physics book you mentioned and its very much like the resnick halliday book I have. I also looked at the syllabus' for engineering on a few universities and it looks like chemistry is a part of it.

    The problem is I have huge impulsivity issues and I erratically change my plan after making it, because I'm always worried of the outcome. I need something that will surely work and set it in stone. Also, my ADD contributes to a lot of distraction, my mind conjures up random thoughts very often, especially while reading.

    I'm not sure what kind of math I need to learn before tackling physics, also, is it ok if I start the electronics book first before I start my physics book? I want to because I like it a lot. Or maybe I could just read up the electromagnetism subtopic and then read electronics?


  7. Apr 5, 2009 #6
    You're doing A-levels? What exam board?
  8. Apr 5, 2009 #7
    I think its CIE, I'm giving the exam privately through an A level school here.
  9. Apr 6, 2009 #8
    I don't believe in the concept of IQ, there is no such test that will give an even half true and accurate level of someones intelligence,

    don't worry dude, as long as you do not have some kind of mental retardation you have the same chances as anyone in getting good at mathematics and physics,

    just study hard, and don't be slack.
    you'll find that the most intelligent people are the ones that work the hardest!
  10. Apr 6, 2009 #9
    I think chemistry is an excellent suplement to learning physics, after all chemistry is largely the physical interactions of electron donors and recipients. Plus its quite simply fascinating, especially organic chemistry which will give you an amazing appreciation for just how impossibly incredible your human body is.

    Impulsivity and ADD in my opinion can be cured by playing games that demand full attention. I've had the same problem as you and I've noticed that playing games like Sudoku, chess, poker, etc. really help one attune one's focussing ability. I can see how when reading your mind veers off the main river and seeks to paddle down the tributaries... This is completely natural and healthy when your are reading for pleasure, but if you are studying a text clearly you want to stick to the main river and focus on it. In the latter case I would suggest a technique whereby the second you find your mind straying from the study at hand, you immediately say 'no' and refocus on your studies. Repeating this process with hardwire your brain to the point where you will no longer unconsciously veer into the tributaries. Also, it helps to anchor in your brain beforehand whether you will be reading for creative pleasure, such as a fantasy novel, or rigid study, such as a school text. Make a rule of it. 'Pleasure ok, study must stay (focussed).' Or another one if you prefer, 'Pleasure ok to veer, study must focus and (be) clear.' Again repeating these to your self before you sit down to do either activity will hardwire your brain to the point where in the near future you will not need to consciously remind yourself of this often.
    One other trick I personally still use is I bought a piece of softwar called 'Egg' which is simply a desktop clock with alarm features. Before I start my workload I ask myself how much time I need to complete my task, I set the alarm clock and then I allow zero, and I mean ZERO distractions enter my mind. I unplug my phone. I clear my desk. I make sure I'm well fed. I do everything I can to schedule an hour exclusively for my work. Then it is easy to concentrate and before you know it you wake up from a work an hour later to the sound of the alarm.

    You will need basic maths like grade 12 calculus to do alot of the physics problems and a decent knowledge of geometry. Trig and finite math and statistics are less important and don't need to be learned until later, if at all, depending on what niche in physics you pursue.

    Electronics is fascinating isn't it? As you said quie correctly, you'll need a basic understanding of electromagnetism to fully appreciate electronics and you may consider inorganic chemistry too to gain a deeper understanding of electronics as well.

    Just remember that your mind is yours. You focus it. Don't use ADD as some crutch that you can go back to and say, 'Oh its not my fault, I was born with ADD.' You are the master of your mind and body and it takes your orders. If its doing something you don't like you tell it 'no' and you correct it. You are the center of your universe and you control you. YOU!!
  11. Apr 6, 2009 #10
    Well then you are better off buying the officially endorsed CIE books.

    I'm on edexcel, and their books are great.
  12. Apr 9, 2009 #11
    Gideon, I am curious if you found my advice useful. I tried to put some thought into it since you seem like a nice fellow who is trying to find his niche in society.
  13. Jul 21, 2009 #12
    Hey, I'm sorry its been so long.

    Thanks Chaos, Yes I did find your advice very useful. I have been trying to study, although not as deeply as I planned. I have not much time now and a LOT to complete.

    I'm trudging through math mostly because I get stuck too quickly when the problem gets tough. And then I dont do anything after that.

    I've chosen Math,Physics and Computing btw for my A levels, but if you remember I'm giving the WHOLE A level this November. Computing is the only subject I'm good with since I just literally have to read it quickly.

    I'm switching between the resnick halliday book and my A level textbook(Adv Phy by Tom Duncan),

    It just felt like I could study math and phy like I did with programming, but the problem is its not as practical and I can't seem to have fun with it like I do with programming. I can't get down and dirty with math and phy and do something real like I do with computers and then I'm trying to do it all alone so its getting difficult, But I am trying.

    Thanks so much

  14. Jul 22, 2009 #13
    Resnick & Halliday is too advanced for A level physics. I would stick to Adv Phy by Tom Duncan and perhaps refer to R & H *only* for areas where Duncan doesn't work for you. Don't try and learn too much, the A level syllabus is enough for you to cover! Listen to calvinuk! Be careful of advice from non-UK commentators, they know nothing about our A level system. Atkins/Jones is a university chemistry book and totally inappropriate in both level and subject matter for A level physics, and you have no time for background reading of this complexity.

    If you get stuck with the Maths, why don't you use the homework advice sections of this forum? And don't just stop. Do something else, some physics revision maybe?
  15. Jul 23, 2009 #14
    yea I realized that sometime ago, I can't really waste time on stuff I dont need to learn. I thought I would be able to study this like I studied Computers, I always over learnt there!! With amazing results.

    The problem in physics is I get stuck quickly on integration equations and sometimes equations with trigonometry. Also, the Tom Duncan book is good, but doesn't explain things nicely so I'm reading some mechanics and electromagnetism chapters from the Resnick Halliday Book.

    As for math, I use the CIE endorsed Neill and Quadling books P1,p2&p3, m1,s1,m2,s2. The problem here is, the chapters dont have problems as complex as the exercises and I always get stuck. Is there a book with all the exercises solved??

  16. Jul 23, 2009 #15
    The problem I had with A level maths was that the course text, teaching, and homework examples were all easier than the exam questions. And the exam questions were in a very different style. Hence my worst result in my lifetime (D). The teacher seemed good, and I liked her, and she probably was good, but just hadn't realised the new "syllabus from hell" was up and running! In my physical science and biology A levels I didn't rate the teachers so went to the effort to get hold of actual exam questions from the actual examining body and made sure I could solve them! I also got the most on target A level textbook I could find for each subject and studied it till I knew it back wards. The biology teacher just read out his university notes on each subject, going far beyond A level, totally losing us, but creating the least amount of work for himself. But I ignored him, studied "A level biology for dummies" and aced the course! Physical Science was a "Nuffield" course and came with a superb textbook -- I simply made sure I knew that backwards, did all the questions (which were just like the exam questiosn!)

    In sumnmary -- it may be an advantage to be doing what you are doing without teachers :-) Just make sure you know exactly what the syllabus is, work from past exam questions (if the syllabus has not changed!), find a good(ish) A level textbook aimed directly at your syllabus and joy can be yours.
  17. Jul 23, 2009 #16
    Apparently the Math textbooks, CIE endorsed are aimed at the syllabus, however there are very few simple solved examples, the exercises are tough, with problems from past papers but I get stuck on most of them, I need a book with all those solved. Or just any book with a lot of solved examples.
  18. Aug 20, 2009 #17
    hey, mal4mac.

    I just had a little time to ponder and I'm thinking about doing Biology instead of physics.

    It is a decision a little sudden, but I've studied with bio with a few cramp sessions at State 12th grade twice and passed it but did fail physics. (And I had lot of family problems back then)

    I'm on some very good medication now and I'm really able to not only study well but think more straight. I don't care about extra learning now and I really want to just Ace my exams. I feel like I can get through A level Math and Computing but Physics seems almost impossible. However, Biology not only interests me but I know a lot of stuff already in Bio. Also, Bio is something I can see myself studying at university and I'm considering taking it.

    I would really like your thoughts on this and would like to know the textbook you studied.

    Thanks so much

  19. Aug 21, 2009 #18
    Hi Gideon

    I am curious which medication helped you concentrate better. Also, Biology is very interesting and fun to study. You will need to do calculus for your Bio degree, so make sure you get a good base in it. Maybe you will become a biophysicist :)
  20. Aug 21, 2009 #19

    I take clomipramine,sertraline and olanzapine. A week after taking these the doc asked me to stop and prescribed the same meds only with other brand names and they worked even better. Turns out I might not have ADD, because after two weeks worth my mind has turned normal. Yesterday I managed to study some math even in the train!

    I do get mood swings if something upsets me, and then I can't study for a few hours until the next time I take the medicine. I'm thinking of asking the doc to increase the dosage or something, I really waste precious time like that!
  21. Aug 21, 2009 #20
    hehe! I've always dreamed about studying how to apply computer science in biology, like making bionic eyes or limbs!!
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
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