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Physics Extreme Project: learning physics/math in spare time

  1. Jul 18, 2013 #1
    I added the 'extreme' part to generate a cool acronym: P.E.P.

    I want to review/learn as much as I can from physics & mathematics, in my spare time(!).

    I started out with quantum mechanics & solid state physics, yet I discovered that my notions of classical physics are poor.

    So I turned to classical mechanics & electrodynamics, then it became obvious to me that my basic math skills were also underachieving.
    So I must add calculus, linear algebra and differential equations as well.
    Of course I once studied this material, but it's so far away.Plus, my brains are rusty, not in shape.

    I'm trying to get a nice logical order of subjects.

    Phase 1:
    Calculus =>Linear Algebra => Differential Equations
    combined with
    Classical Mechanics followed by Electrodynamics.

    Is that a good start?

    For Calculus, I use Stewart, Linear Algebra : Lay
    Differential Equations: Boyce
    Classical Mechanics: Classical Dynamics Particles/Systems
    Elektrodynamics: Griffiths

    I'm planning to review these subjects as profoundly as possible in as much as 2-3 months.
    After that, I throw in Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics/Quantum Mechanics/Solid State Physics.
    Possibly Abstract Algebra as well.
    Problem is: I'm terrible at organizing, so advice/suggestions are more than welcome. :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2013 #2
    I think that's a little ambitious! That is a huge body of material to study in such a short time, especially in your "spare" time.

    I think you should take things on a bit slower. I would definately review the calculus and differential equations, and that is enough to get you going with some real classical mechanics. Then you can do some vector calculus and move on to some E&M. Then do some Linear Algebra and move on to Quantum mechanics etc...
  4. Jul 18, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Have you already studied physics at the level of a typical calculus-based introductory course that uses something like Halliday/Resnick/Walker or the dozen or so similar textbooks? If not, then you might want to start there while you're catching up on calculus etc. You don't actually need a whole lot of calculus for books at that level.
  5. Aug 2, 2013 #4
    Yes, I did three standard physics courses, that covered the whole Serway with Modern Physics + Giancoli.

    Want to broaden my knowledge, from basic physics to intermediate.
  6. Aug 2, 2013 #5
    The "2-3 months" part is far too ambitious. Even with a good algebra backing, going through Stewart's Calculus book would take 2-3 months if you're rushing. At my University, that book is divided into three courses and is taught over the time period of about 15 months. I don't know how much spare time you have, but you'll probably have to extend your plan.

    I would say do your math in the order of:
    1. Calculus
    2. Diff Eqns
    3. Linear Algebra
    4. Any/all math

    For physics:
    1. Classical Mechanics
    2. E&M
    3. Statistical Mechanics
    4. Quantum Mechanics
    5. Any/all physics

    I threw Stat mech in because it's one of the four "pillars" of physics and is quite useful in all other areas.
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