Self-Taught Physics: Start Here

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In summary, if you want to learn physics from scratch you need to: - Have a basic knowledge of mathematics - Master a physics book that covers basic mechanics, energy, and waves - Read a book on probability theory
  • #1
ryanmckenzie
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I’m going to ask a dangerous question, and propose for one book by suggestion, that I should read to take nothing more than just a first step down a path of self-taught Physics.

We all know that to get started in something, we just need to get started (which is of course the hardest part). I am 23 years old, and as a first-degree “talent” I am to utilise my time to progress in animation, filmmaking and art. These are the subjects I naturally grew into, these are the limited concentrations that withheld any interest that was ever asked for in higher education.

I loved Mathematics in school. There was nothing more aesthetically pleasing to me than to grind through a multi-page equation that would turn out the certainty of one, single solution. But I was simultaneously frustrated. Because while my teacher would tell me that such an equation would produce the answer required to get your much needed certificate, I was never told most importantly why, or how this system of logic worked.

Why do I want to study Physics? Because like any artist or scientist, I have an overinflated sense of curiosity, that does not end with my identified proficiency in art or philosophy. With the fear of creating your own constraints (not necessarily limitations), it may give direction to express my centralised interests in astronomy and the existential fascination I bear for dark matter, dark energy and (irrelevantly) human consciousness.

While it’s silly to give a starting point it’s entirety towards one book… At this moment in time it’s all the room I have available for my shelf of collective interests.
 
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  • #2
What is your intent?

There are *plenty* of laymen-level physics books out there (A Brief History Of Time, The Elegant Universe, etc.). These books will give you a beautiful, albeit quite diluted, picture of physics.

But if you want to learn physics the way a physicist would, the path is quite different. It involves learning material that is dense and difficult. Good that you like math - that's the biggest obstacle for most people. The general consensus here at PF, though, is that it's all but impossible to learn physics to a high level by self-study. You should consider taking an introductory class at a community college, just to get your feet wet.
 
  • #3
What physics courses have you taken?

ryanmckenzie,
To answer your question, one needs to know what physics courses (HS, college) you have taken. When have you taken these courses, how well did you do, and how much of the info you have retained? I can recommend good physics learning material for various levels, but first I need to know your background.
 
  • #4
Well if you want to learn just what's going on in physics then just read the above given recommendations (also the universe in a nutshell by Hawking is a goodone )

If you want really to teach yourself physics (forget about getting a job without a degree)

you need to get some basic mathematical ideas in order to grasp the concept of how things work in physics this can be very dull in the beginning since essentially you need to learn certain principals in math and then to solve exercises so that you master those principals...

But after (a year or two depending on how hard you work) you will start to get into the "good stuff" and really learn about physics.
My recommendation is Calculus by Michael Spivak 4th edition and Vector Calculus by Jerrold E. Marsden, Anthony (first master the Spivak book then go for vector calculus)

The above need some basic knowledge of mathematics (from high school) and a good understanding of arithmetic.

After mastering those books you can start with some elementary physics (mechanics mostly) I could recommend you this: University Physics by Young freedman

It will be good to read something about basic probability theory as well.

After that you will be able to find your way around and decide what's next for you.
 
  • #5


I commend your desire to learn more about physics and expand your knowledge beyond your current areas of expertise. It is never too late to start learning and exploring new subjects.

In terms of a book recommendation, I would suggest starting with "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking. This book provides a great overview of some of the fundamental concepts in physics, such as gravity, relativity, and the Big Bang theory, in a way that is accessible to non-experts. It will also introduce you to some of the mysteries and questions that still perplex physicists, such as dark matter and dark energy.

However, I would also encourage you to not limit yourself to just one book. Physics is a vast and constantly evolving field, and it is important to continue learning from a variety of sources. There are many great books, online resources, and even courses available that can help you further your understanding of physics. Additionally, don't be afraid to reach out to experts in the field for guidance and advice.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to keep your curiosity alive and continue to explore and learn. I wish you all the best in your self-taught journey in physics.
 

Related to Self-Taught Physics: Start Here

1. What is self-taught physics?

Self-taught physics is the study of physics without formal instruction or education from a teacher or institution. It involves learning and understanding the principles and concepts of physics through self-directed study and experimentation.

2. Is it possible to learn physics without a formal education?

Yes, it is possible to learn physics without a formal education. With access to resources such as textbooks, online courses, and educational videos, individuals can teach themselves the fundamentals of physics and progress to more advanced concepts.

3. What are the benefits of self-taught physics?

Some benefits of self-taught physics include the flexibility to learn at one's own pace, the ability to choose specific topics of interest, and the opportunity for hands-on experimentation. It can also be a more affordable option for those who cannot afford formal education.

4. What are some tips for self-study in physics?

Some tips for self-study in physics include setting clear goals, creating a study schedule, seeking out reliable resources, practicing problem-solving, and seeking help from online communities or forums when needed.

5. Can self-taught physics lead to a career in the field?

Yes, self-taught physics can lead to a career in the field. While a formal degree may be required for certain positions, many employers value self-directed learning and practical experience gained through self-study. Additionally, self-taught individuals can also pursue freelance or entrepreneurial opportunities in the field of physics.

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