Should I start with a basic physics book without calculus?

  • #26
How about you start by exploring Hyperphysics?

Zz.
Is it a good textbook for learning physics(Is it recommended or has anyone on the forums used it)? Is it all online too? I think I like physical books to learn from(I can annotate and highlight etc), but I could try to use this.
 
  • #27
kith
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There are two (idealized) approaches to physics: the first starts with the polished theory and derives more and more complicated things from it and the second starts with lots of physical phenomena and destills the important concepts from there. These different approaches are present in all of science and are called "deductive" and "inductive". I think the best way to really understand physics is to use both kinds of sources.

Most textbooks use predominantly the deductive approach. If you want to see how a more inductive approach looks like, I recommend "Thinking Physics" by Epstein. It teaches physics by asking you questions about physical phenomena.
 
  • #28
Would the best approach to learning physics be, first reading conceptual physics by Hewitt, then reading fundamentals of physics by Halliday?

Would conceptual physics give me a good grounding and base in physics, which would help once I start reading fundamentals of physics?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321568095/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #29
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Would conceptual physics be a good introduction to physics for me? https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321909100/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I think that is a fine starting point. You may want to try pairing it with Halliday. The sequence of topics will be roughly the same and Hewitt's is geared toward general high school so you'll need to be aware that the things you learn will be modified (and improved by being more general) by working through Halliday. But, that's just something to get used to because each iteration of learning will require this.

Most textbooks use predominantly the deductive approach. If you want to see how a more inductive approach looks like, I recommend "Thinking Physics" by Epstein. It teaches physics by asking you questions about physical phenomena.

I haven't seen that book, but I like this suggestion. I think it is easy to neglect your intuition and experience if you focus too much on a text like Halliday. That's one reason I was thinking that pairing it with Conceptual Physics would be good.

And, I'll say it again: the first volume of Feynman's lectures is also worth reading. They are available online through Caltech. There are exercises there too, which I didn't know existed.
 
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  • #30
I think that is a fine starting point. You may want to try pairing it with Halliday. The sequence of topics will be roughly the same and Hewitt's is geared toward general high school so you'll need to be aware that the things you learn will be modified (and improved by being more general) by working through Halliday. But, that's just something to get used to because each iteration of learning will require this.



I haven't seen that book, but I like this suggestion. I think it is easy to neglect your intuition and experience if you focus too much on a text like Halliday. That's one reason I was thinking that pairing it with Conceptual Physics would be good.

And, I'll say it again: the first volume of Feynman's lectures is also worth reading. They are available online through Caltech. There are exercises there too, which I didn't know existed.
I think it might be best that I use only the conceptual physics book initially, or until I complete it, because I had a look at the Halliday book, and even on the first few questions, I could ]not answer the majority of questions, partly due to the fact they ask about physics things and terminologies that I am not familiar with. Like atomic moles, elements, protons, electrons, longitudes and latitude calculations, etc. All of which I have not studied. But looking at the start of the conceptual physics book it doesn’t seem to throw about many undefined physics terminologies that are yet to, if ever, be explained in the book.

Would you say the conceptual physics book assumes zero physics knowledge prior? Because it was said the same for Halliday, but when I checked some of it, it assumed at least some familiarity from maybe middle or high school, of which I do not have.

If conceptual physics is said to be a high school text book, does that mean it requires middle school knowledge to start with? If so, where can I learn it before tackling conceptual physics?

Thanks.
 
  • #31
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Would you say the conceptual physics book assumes zero physics knowledge prior? Because it was said the same for Halliday, but when I checked some of it, it assumed at least some familiarity from maybe middle or high school, of which I do not have.

I think that it is fair to say that Halliday assumes some basic familiarity with general science since it is a book that is generally used for introductory undergraduate work. i don't think Hewitt has assumed any prior knowledge. It is very accessible, but, correspondingly, very light. I used it for a couple of years teaching high school and ended up abandoning it because I thought it was too light. However, as a resource for initial self-study of physics I think it could be exactly what you are looking for.
 
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  • #32
I think that it is fair to say that Halliday assumes some basic familiarity with general science since it is a book that is generally used for introductory undergraduate work. i don't think Hewitt has assumed any prior knowledge. It is very accessible, but, correspondingly, very light. I used it for a couple of years teaching high school and ended up abandoning it because I thought it was too light. However, as a resource for initial self-study of physics I think it could be exactly what you are looking for.
Thanks for the reply. I think I’ll use it as my introductory physics text then. Would you say once I’ve read and studied through the conceptual physics book, I would be well equipped and well versed for learning fundamentals of physics without much struggle(I.e, I would then know all the basic science it assumes)? Given that, hopefully, by then I should have learned the calculus required for the book too.
 
  • #33
Also, if it is of any help, I plan to study mathematics at university, but want to at least have a good understanding of physics for when I start my degree in mathematics. Would fundamental physics be enough physics knowledge for a pure mathematics major to prepare for any physics he may encounter during his studies?


As I believe in the pure mathemaics degree there is a course on quantum mechanics that one must take. So I would like to at least be able to handle that by the time I encounter it.
 
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  • #34
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As I believe in the pure mathemaics degree there is a course on quantum mechanics that one must take. So I would like to at least be able to handle that by the time I encounter it.

Is this purely a guess on your part, or do you actually have a valid curriculum from a university to refer to?

Zz.
 
  • #35
Is this purely a guess on your part, or do you actually have a valid curriculum from a university to refer to?

Zz.
I’ve got a valid university cirriculum that I am reading from their website.

It’s a mathematics degree, msci, so I believe it has a masters included which is 4 years long. I maybe should have just said mathematics degree rather than pure mathematics, as I had thought there was 2 variants, pure and applied. However there is not.
 
  • #36
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Would you say once I’ve read and studied through the conceptual physics book, I would be well equipped and well versed for learning fundamentals of physics without much struggle(I.e, I would then know all the basic science it assumes)?

I wouldn't say that it will save you from things being a struggle. You will be more familiar with the things you will be learning in greater depth later, but new challenge will come each level you advance because you'll be learning more technical content and learning to apply it. However, with the appropriate mathematical background you will be better equipped for Halliday. You will learn to apply calculus to situations that you'll see in physics through the calculus curriculum and then see it again in physics.
 
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  • #37
ZapperZ
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I’ve got a valid university cirriculum that I am reading from their website.

... and you're not going to let us know the link to such said curriculum?

Zz.
 
  • #39
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As I believe in the pure mathemaics degree there is a course on quantum mechanics that one must take.
In the link that you provided, it appears to me that the courses listed under Stages 3 and 4 (including quantum theory) are merely the available options, not required courses. However, someone who is familiar with UK-type curricula can probably comment on this better than I can.
 
  • #40
Hi, I am back again.

So I believe that University Physics( https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321973615/?tag=pfamazon01-20 )might be a better book to use for self study. Many have said it is better for self study and is more in depth than Halliday and Resnick. My question is, does the book require calculus to be able to be read too?

I also wonder whether or not I need to have a basic pre-requisite physics knoweldge of the high school level, which I could potentially gain from the conceptual physics book( https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321909100/?tag=pfamazon01-20 ) or would I need something more advanced to learn from to be able to succeed at reading the university physics textbook? So maybe it is still worth reading conceptual physics first while I don’t yet know calculus, and then once I have learned calculus, to read university physics?

I am looking to also sit physics A-levels and I would believe that university physics would cover all that is needed in the exams? However it may be very overkill to use University Physics as a textbook for sitting physics A-level exams? Maybe I should just use a straight A-level physics book to study from for sitting it? However, I feel like those, exam specific textbooks teach for the exam and not for learning the content that also happens to be part of the exam, whereas I would think that university physics actually teaches physics and what it all means etc, whereas the A-level or any other exam book teaches for factual knowledge related to the exam and not the why behind it all.
 
  • #41
symbolipoint
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So I believe that University Physics( https://www.amazon.com/University-P...321973615/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 )might be a better book to use for self study. Many have said it is better for self study and is more in depth than Halliday and Resnick. My question is, does the book require calculus to be able to be read too?
Yes. Learn at least Semester-1 Calculus. An alternative is to study from an Elementary Physics book (I have no specific recommendation) which should only require Intermediate Algebra and mostly basic Trigonometry.
 
  • #42
symbolipoint
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I am looking to also sit physics A-levels and I would believe that university physics would cover all that is needed in the exams? However it may be very overkill to use University Physics as a textbook for sitting physics A-level exams? Maybe I should just use a straight A-level physics book to study from for sitting it? However, I feel like those, exam specific textbooks teach for the exam and not for learning the content that also happens to be part of the exam, whereas I would think that university physics actually teaches physics and what it all means etc, whereas the A-level or any other exam book teaches for factual knowledge related to the exam and not the why behind it all.
Too many "Whereas's". Study to learn and to understand.
 
  • #43
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  • #44
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However it may be very overkill to use University Physics as a textbook for sitting physics A-level exams? Maybe I should just use a straight A-level physics book to study from for sitting it?
I'm in the US, so I have no experience with A-levels etc. My first guess was that A-level physics is calculus based, but then I found the AQA specification via a Google search. The only place where it mentions "calculus" or "derivative" or "integral" is on page 78:
Apply the concepts underlying calculus (but without requiring the explicit use of derivatives or integrals) by solving equations involving rates of change, eg ##\frac {\Delta x} {\Delta t} = - \lambda x## using a graphical method or spreadsheet modelling
This seems to indicate that A-level physics uses even less calculus than a typical university intro physics course in the US (with a book like Young/Freedman or Halliday/Resnick). Furthermore, the sequence of topics (beginning on page 10) appears to be rather different from a Y/F or H/R type book, and omits some topics that those books cover, e.g. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism.

If you use one of these books to prepare for A-levels, I think you'd need this specification or something similar in conjunction, so that you can focus on the topics that you will be tested on, and skip over the others for later. It would probably be easier to simply use an A-level textbook to begin with.

I encourage comments from people who are more familiar with A-levels than I am.
 
  • #45
I'm in the US, so I have no experience with A-levels etc. My first guess was that A-level physics is calculus based, but then I found the AQA specification via a Google search. The only place where it mentions "calculus" or "derivative" or "integral" is on page 78:

This seems to indicate that A-level physics uses even less calculus than a typical university intro physics course in the US (with a book like Young/Freedman or Halliday/Resnick). Furthermore, the sequence of topics (beginning on page 10) appears to be rather different from a Y/F or H/R type book, and omits some topics that those books cover, e.g. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism.

If you use one of these books to prepare for A-levels, I think you'd need this specification or something similar in conjunction, so that you can focus on the topics that you will be tested on, and skip over the others for later. It would probably be easier to simply use an A-level textbook to begin with.

I encourage comments from people who are more familiar with A-levels than I am.

Thank you for the detailed response. I am not planning on sitting the A-level physics exam due to the complicated and convoluted nature of it as someone who is not in school, however all I wanted was to have or exceed the knoweldge of a physics A-level through these textbooks, such that I could begin my mathematics degree with a physics knoweldge equal to or greater than my peers that have studied and taken the A-level physics exams so I can keep up with them in all physics related things. Also just so I can utilise that physics knoweldge in the future with any mathematical studies I may encounter or research I might like to do pertaining to, or involving, physics.

So would you say that, from having looked at the A-level specification, since University Physics well exceeds A-level physics, that I would be adept at taking a simultenous 2 year physics course along side my mathematics degree when the time comes? The one thing I am not exactly sure of is, would Univesity Physics not cover some select knoweldge that only the A-level exams would require, such that in a physics course which assumes A-level physics knoweldge, I wouldn’t have covered/learned that topic or would it cover all A-level topics and more? The university I plan on going to offers students the opportunity to study another 2 year course along side their 4 year main degree so hence why I’d like to have equivalent A-level knoweldge as all courses assume A-level knowledge when beginning a course.
 
  • #46
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You are over complicating things. Start reading the open stacks books. Read it for 3 weeks and work out problems. Summarize all paragraphs you read and draw the diagrams as needed. Work out the examples along with the book and work out problems. If you do not understand whats going on, then re read. If this does not work, then ask here. If this also fails, then brush up the math used in the examples/problems and re read. Consult a second textbook as needed. Rinse and repeat!
 

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