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Relearning high school math & physics

  1. Oct 2, 2006 #1


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    I'm very in to physics at a layperson's level, but I find I am not going get anywhere without the math and physics theory to back it up. I took physics, calculus and functions in high school, but that was a looooong time ago. I'm thinking that, in order to advance my knowledge in physics, I'm going to have to "go back to school".

    I think I need to brush up on the fundamentals of calculus and the fundamentals of physics (eg. SAVTU equations). Can anyone recommend some good online resources where I can relearn this stuff?

    I will look through the PF tutorials, but I think I need a little more than that. I should probably do exercises, etc. I guess I'm thinking of actual online courses but I'm open to suggestions.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2006 #2
    Calculus by Gilbert Strang at OCW.MIT
  4. Oct 2, 2006 #3
  5. Oct 2, 2006 #4


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    I'd pick up at textbook by James E. Steward called Calculus.

    He has an introductory part and Appendixes for those students who might need it.

    Great way to start.

    Good luck with everything too!
  6. Oct 2, 2006 #5


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    SAVTU equations? :confused:

    When I google on "SAVTU" all I get are pages in Turkish and Czech!
  7. Oct 2, 2006 #6
    James Stewart-INtro to Calculus
    R.Serway - Intro to (modern) physics for scientists
  8. Oct 2, 2006 #7
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2006
  9. Oct 2, 2006 #8
    Youch, 1513 pages and 1184 pages. I think what people forget is that they had courses to set a steady pace for them over the course of 18 months or so. I think I might find those too intimidating for self-study. Maybe something easier to hold while reading, like the Dover Essential Calculus, would be a better place to start.

    Also, since you aren't taking courses, if you do get a textbook, you don't need to get the latest edition pushed by the publisher. I really like the 3rd edition of Resnick and Halliday's Physics (not Fundamentals of Physics) in two volumes.
  10. Oct 2, 2006 #9


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    College-level physics textbooks always include far more material than can be covered in a normal course. Publishers don't want to risk losing a potential sale to an instructor whose favorite special topic isn't included.

    I don't think I've ever taught a course in which I've gotten though the entire textbook. Usually it's somewhere between half and two-thirds.
  11. Oct 2, 2006 #10
    Right, an instructor will choose what to leave out and what problems to assign. Without that guidance, I'm wondering how appropriate a big text like that is for self-study.
  12. Oct 2, 2006 #11


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    Why wouldn't they be? You study the sections you want to learn, and do problems in a section until they are boring because they are trivial to you.

    There usually is guidance in most textbooks anyways, a section in the intro stating what sections the author typically uses for a 1 term course for example. Or some kind of dependancy thing, which sections are required as pre reqs for which sections. Or marking sections as 'optional' meaning later material doesn't rely on them.

    As you mentioned, the latest editions are absolutely not necessary for self study (this is often true when taking a course as well), so used or free books are good options. Calc books tend to not be as cheap as I'd hope in used bookstores probably just based on their size. Discarded old editions can sometimes be had lying around math departments, or university swap shops.
  13. Oct 3, 2006 #12


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    s=distance, a=acceleration, v=velocity(initial), t=time, u=velocity(final)

    There's like, five formulae that intertwine these five variables, with which you can solve almost all basic mechnical physics problems.

    Sorry, I guess that's changed since my high school days too.
  14. Oct 3, 2006 #13
    Certainly the variables for initial and final velocities have changed. :D
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