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Self taught calc. and Quantum physics

  1. Sep 16, 2012 #1
    Hey, I haven't been here for awhile but I would like to know if anyone has some good links or free pdf books, to help me learn and excel in quantum physics and calc. I so far have not taken any calculus and it will most likely be completely foreign to me but, I understand that and since I'm working a hellishly physically demanding graveyard shift factory job I have a lot of free time on my hands outside of work and sleep. So first I would like to know.(I'll separate questions from text)

    --What should I learn 1st? I know some Quantum physics and some of the more accepted theory's and some of the less accepted ones. I mainly learned what I know now just to prove a friend wrong in a argument about Quantum physics. Also, so far the math I have encountered in physics hasn't really knocked my block off leaving me confused. In other words I have been able to figure out most equations with a pre calc education so far, but, I doubt that will continue.
    --What are good practice sites?
    --Where is a good place to start learning Quantum Physics? By this, I mean where exactly do I start what theory's would be best to start at? Because Quantum physics isn't like a history book or a math book that i can just read sequentially related parts, is it? To me Quantum physics seems like in order to understand something you need to know something and to fully grasp that something you need to know something else in which your research would actually end up teaching you more than lectures. So that is why I am asking generally where to start because once I start my own questions will lead me to other theory's and Quantum Physics discussions.

    thank you, that is basically all.

    On a side note do you believe Quantum Physics to be a form of modern Alchemy with all spiritual beliefs behind Alchemy beside?

    Edit:I was thinking I should start with classical physics and then work my way to wave particle duality, while simultaneously learning calc. (I think I found a online textbook that might help). And then read basic Quantum theory and break it down into the separate parts that it consist of and learn them individually. I also found a college recording class on youtube of intro. to QP. which seems nice.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2012 #2
    You need to learn a bunch of math before you can really start leaning quantum mechanics. Calculus, then differential equations, and linear algebra. So on that score, definitely learn calculus first.

    I think that you should get at least one good calculus textbook and work through it. Probably there are also websites that teach calculus.

    You might also benefit from the equivalent of an introductory undergraduate "general physics" course before trying to learn QM. For that you could look up some freshman physics courses at universities and see what textbooks they use.

    IMO the best way to learn quantum mechanics outside a university would be to get an undergraduate quantum mechanics textbook and work through it. But you'll need the math prerequisites mentioned above first. If you want motivation for the math studies you could get a QM textbook now and look at it to see what math you're expected to be able to do. I like the quantum mechanics textbooks by Griffiths and Shankar.

    Nope. A sort of "transmutation of elements" does occur in radioactivity, though.
  4. Sep 16, 2012 #3
    MIT open courseware will be a good resource. Watch the introductory physics course while you're working your way through calc. You will see a lot of what you are doing in the calc book in the physics class too.

    You don't really NEED classical mechanics in order to learn QM, but it is my opinion that the concepts of QM are easier to accept after you have already seen an abstract, mathematical approach to describing a physical world that you can see. You don't need it, but I do think you will appreciate it in the long run.

    You can learn some of the early stuff about QM with only calc. and basic diff.eqs, but you need linear algebra to get into anything slightly modern. You might also look for a "Modern Physics" text book. We used the one by Tipler and Llewellyn. I don't know how it ranks in comparison to others, but it seemed okay to me. Buy an old used copy. That will help to keep you interested while you are learning more math, but it does require a good calc foundation. Plus most modern physics texts will cover some Relativity and Stat Mech.
  5. Sep 17, 2012 #4
  6. Sep 18, 2012 #5
    Wow this is an amazing resource. I'm surprised I didn't know about this before. Thanks a lot Plotus!
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
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