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Self teaching physics with poor math skills?

  1. Feb 16, 2015 #1
    Ahoy there.
    I am twenty years old, and have (as a result of my interest in cosmology and astronomy, and the natural sciences) developed a keen appreciation for mathematics (in physics, primarily). I have always had an interest in the sciences, but lackluster teachers and personal disinterest (on account of not understanding) has left me with atrocious math skills. I imagine I would currently fail any math test given me beyond an 8th grade level - and even then I might struggle.
    Unfortunately, I haven't the time to attend a college - nor do I need a degree of any kind. I am purely interested in self-betterment, and properly increasing my understanding of certain things including but not limited to: cosmology, astrophysics, quantum physics, relativity, and all that funky business (and general everyday-life-related applied mathematics, if I can slot it in there).
    I need some advice as to how I ought to approach self-teaching. I have an account on Khan academy (though I'm well aware that some dislike the site), and have purchased many books on the topics that I plan to learn, but I feel it will be insufficient, as I have poor memory retention. I have started reading Kline's "CALCULUS - an intuitive and physical approach".
    Can anybody provide any detailed advice specific to my situation? I'm even willing to join flexible online programs, if such things exist outside of online colleges.

    I'm 20.
    I suck at Maths, but wish to change that.
    I love science, and science is whence my interest in math.
    I don't have time for classes.
    How do I self teach effectively?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Check out the website mathispower4u. there are short videos for all math from Algebra thru Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, the basic math you'll need to gain some serious understanding of undergraduate level physics.

  4. Feb 16, 2015 #3
    You should make sure you're very comfortable with basic algebra and trig before you start calculus, especially if you plan on self teaching.
  5. Feb 17, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    The most important thing is to get some solid skills with algebra and trigonometry down. A typical introductory physics textbook assumes at least some familiarity with differential and integral calculus, so getting to that point is the biggest thing. Khan Academy has a lot of great videos on all of the algebra and trig you'd need to get started. There doesn't tend to be a whole lot of difference between introductory algebra textbooks. Lang's 'Basic Mathematics' is a great text that covers a reasonably rigorous and in depth introduction to basic algebra and trig. A book like this accompanied with some Khan Academy videos would be a good combination.

    Here's the Lang text https://www.amazon.com/dp/038796787...UTF8&colid=1C820W0WD74GP&coliid=I5S5ELJH5LJS5
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