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Self-Study Help

  1. Apr 7, 2010 #1
    Hope this is in the right place. I'm 13 years old and I would like to self-study physics. I've study most of calculus and some differential equations and linear algebra. But due to my eagerness and perhaps lack of guidance I have many gaps in my foundations. As I have little access to books, please provide me with websites to review sub-calculus topics such as trig and geometry and to continue studying more advanced topics.

    I have also studied elementary secondary school physics topics such as Newton's Laws of Motion and the Conservation of Momentum etc. Again, please provide me with websites to review these concepts and learn more advanced topics such as Maxwell's equations and Quantum Mechanics. Thanks.

    Edit: Also, I would appreciate it if you could provide a list of topic to study.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2010 #2
    Look at some lectures posted online, like this for example:

    There are similar ones for all elementary maths subjects too like calculus and differential equations etc, look at them and google the words you don't understand. The good thing about these lectures is that it will most likely find your holes and also teach you a lot of new concepts or at least old concepts in a new way.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Apr 7, 2010 #3
    I'm watch the MIT ones at the moment.
  5. Apr 7, 2010 #4
    well, it can be dangerous if you go too ahead. Why don't just step by step learn the high school first (probably not hard to get a book on Amazon), and then college level?
  6. Apr 7, 2010 #5


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    The MIT open courses are a good place to start. But don't just watch the lectures; do the work as well. Simply listening to it doesn't get you nearly as much as you might think. Homework and exams are often posted along with lectures. And if you can do all the work for them, the next step would be for your parents to talk to your high school and a local college.
  7. Apr 7, 2010 #6
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Apr 7, 2010 #7
    The college course is intended for people who haven't studied physics before, how can anything be below that level?
  9. Apr 7, 2010 #8
    Thanks everyone.

    Good point. I'm trying to do this now. And no, I can't access books besides the ones in my library.
  10. Apr 8, 2010 #9
  11. Apr 9, 2010 #10
    This guy is pretty good:

    I used his site to get some understanding on a pretty important theorem called Noether's Theorem, basically it links up conservation of something with symmetry of something (momentum and space, energy and time, turns out conservation of momentum is mathematically equivalent of spatial symmetry, that is, that you can set your 0 anywhere you want and you still get the same physics). He's got a lot of random topics, advanced and otherwise, and covers them really well.

    Also, as far as Maxwell's equations, download the pdf in the box (scroll down a little, I mean the big box not all the little boxes in the first few lines):

    The guy who wrote it, Robert Brown, is hands down the best teacher I have ever met and is basically the reason why half of Duke's physics majors are physics majors (he teaches the physics version of intro mechanics and E&M).
    That pdf is great.

    Finally, go to your library and check out a set of books called The Feynman Lectures. Read 2 or 3 pages and you'll realize why the man was so lauded.

    As far as what to study, I'd suggest leaving Quantum alone for a little bit (it's dense stuff, and if you don't have your math down real good its easy to get bogged down).
    Instead, try out a little Special Relativity. They didn't call him Einstein for nothing ;)
    SR is really, really ridiculously mind boggling at first, VERY interesting, but there's not that much math involved beyond the level of algebra. The concepts though are pretty sweet, and it's possible to really get into it without knowing tons of math.
  12. Apr 9, 2010 #11


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    Gold Member

    Well it depends, you could take a course which covers SR by tensors, as in Rindler's textbook.
    Tensors can be elementary, but not at first sight.
  13. Apr 9, 2010 #12
    once you finish your high school physics and calculus
    here is the suggestions for book list:

    Serway and David Morin (read them at the same time, but only do the problem-sets in Morin). AFTER that, once you are hungry for the underlying reasoning in Physics, then to read about Kleppner and Kolenkow's book (actually, you can try Kleppner and Kolenkow and David Morin directly, but if it seems difficult to you, practically, choose Serway.).

    also, feel free to library to take a look, some books may at your level and interesting.
    How to pick a book? My prof used to tell me when it comes to picking up a book, you can read it even on the bed and get excited(not overwhelming), and then it is exactly the book you need, if a book makes you headache, you'd better pick another.

    Feel free to learn some on Quantum Mechanics as well, a suitable book for people have completed high school calculus and EM in Serway's book: Quantum Mechanics in Simple Matrix form.

    Apostol (you will love it)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  14. Apr 11, 2010 #13
    Again, thanks.

    My library doesn't seem to have it but I've read his QED lectures. That's why I need websites (video lectures are fine but sometimes my internet connection won't let me access them so text-based lectures would be appreciated).
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  15. Apr 12, 2010 #14
    don't waste your passion.
    QED is impossible for you to understand.
    Don't know whether if you are ambitious or not to get into schools like Caltech or MIT for physics.
    If you are, then step by step. Join a few competitions, have some activities, try to be a leader. Then MIT or Caltech won't be too far away from you.
    No building can be build up without bases.
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