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Homework Help: Physics tips . ?

  1. Sep 10, 2004 #1
    This is my first year of physics . On the first day my professor had already told us that we would be learning physics differently than any other class we would be taking. I had been able to zoom through all of my other classes like econ, pysch, english, math, chem, bio etc. For physics however I have to put all my energy and time into this class and I still can't seem to set up problems (as some of you might notice by my multiple postings)! Are there any tips to studying physics? :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2004 #2
    I have a good tip for free-fall problems: After your diagram, you always write four things -- three givens and one with a question mark. Otherwise, you may think you don't have enough 'givens'. For example, if they ask the initial velocity it would take to reach a height of 10 meters, you would write " x= 10 m, a = -9.8 m/sec^2, v(f) = 0, v(i) = ?. Then look for the formula with all four of those letters, and no other letter. Rearrange it to get the ? one by itself, then just fill in the blanks, taking the units along with the numbers. Your answer will come out with the correct units.
  4. Sep 10, 2004 #3
    One of the worst habits physics students develop is the tendency to memorize formulas and processes for specific types of questions and then applying these to similar questions. Confronted with a new type of problem or one where many different physical principals are needed, these students often have trouble. Rather, physics questions should all be approached by starting with a basic principle (or several). You learn that most areas of physics are based on a few underlying concepts, and that many areas of physics are very related.
  5. Sep 10, 2004 #4
    That's one of my habits.. But it's the only way I know how to go about the problem! Please elaborate what you mean by 'starting with a basic principle.'
  6. Sep 10, 2004 #5
    Read Feynman.
  7. Sep 10, 2004 #6


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    Tip: Do the physics before you do the math! :-)
  8. Sep 10, 2004 #7
    By starting with a basic principle, I mean something like work-energy theorem rather than a memorized kinematic formula.
  9. Sep 11, 2004 #8
    I never like using algebra when I do Basic Physics involving velocity, acceleration, energy, etc. Instead, I tend to picture graphs in my head, and then work out the answers from there. I like drawing things out as well. Reading Feynman, as suggested by humanino, is probably a good idea. For more difficult Physics, I suggest that you never MEMORISE any formulae. I think this is good advice particularly for those just starting to learn physics. Try to understand it! This method will make you slow at solving problems at first (compared to people who memorise formulae) but after a while you'll be able to solve problems very quickly.

    Of course, this is coming from someone who has only been taking Physics for little more than a year. I understand that university Physics requires a lot of memorising, something which I'm afraid I will refuse to do! It's worked for me so far, but I must admit that my method may be risky for some.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2004
  10. Sep 11, 2004 #9
    Thank you all for your suggestions! I'm open to more, please continue posting!
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