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Starting in Physics

  1. Aug 12, 2013 #1
    I'm currently a freshman and I'm really interested in learning Physics.
    I've never had any experience doing Physics, but I do know that math is involved and that's it.
    I'm done with Trigonometry, Algebra 2, and Calculus so I hope that's enough for Physics.
    Anyways, I've just got a lot of questions about what Physics is like and how Olympiads are like.
    If any of you guys do Math you know how there's the AMC 10/12 and if you do well on that you go to AIME? And if you do well on the AIME you go to the USA(J)MO and maybe possibly the IMO?
    Well I was wondering what is was like for Physics. I also need some good recommendations for books. Just list all of the books that I would need to possibly get into the IPhO(if possible). I did write a post about this before but I was still a little confused because some of the members said I only need Conceptual Physics and University Physics with Modern Physics to get into the IPhO.
    Thank's for you help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    A freshman at high school?
    "Physics is wonderful and rewarding to study - go for it!" says the physicist ;)

    You want a background in math and general science - the general science stuff can be filled in as you go. A lot of the specific math will get filled in too ...

    That should be plenty - many enter with less. It will depend on the teacher somewhat though. You will be well advised to continue with the math as well.

    You are interested in competative education? I'll leave those questions to those who know the specific situation.

    There is a whole section on PF about books - go look :)

    That sounds about right to me - but that's a minimum need, "want" is another matter and depends too much on you for anyone to be able to advise you properly.
  4. Aug 12, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the response. It's helped me a lot and given me a rough starting point. I just have a few more questions. In math olympiad theres I guess a preliminary test (AMC 10/12) that anyone can take and they choose the highest scorers on those to take the next round test (AIME). Then they combine the scores of the AMC 10/12 and the AIME and they choose the kids to take the USAMO. And then from then on, they choose the IMO team.
    How is the structure in the Physics Olympiad. Is it similar to this? So I guess I'm interested in competitive education/physics.
    Another question is when I went to the PF section for the books, there was Intro Physics, Classical, Relativity, Quantum, Cosmology, Plasma, Astrophysics.... Basically things I don't even know about. Could you just give me a brief summary of what this is.
    Even though I go to this forum, I can't really find a good start-up book. So I guess Conceptual Physics and University Physics with Modern Physics alone (of course along with some other books along the way) would be sufficient for getting into the IPhO? Is this a good start-up book? Could you recommend me what I should start with and books I should look into afterwards and so on? Thanks so much for the advice.
  5. Aug 13, 2013 #4


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    Hi AsianInvasion. I answered a similar question once before, about learning physics in preparation for the IPhO. My answer then was that University Physics was available at an extremely cheap price, algebra-based books I could not find cheaply and so could not recommend any, and I said that you would get a better understanding learning from a calculus-based college book.

    This time, I have found an algebra-based book available for not too much, https://www.amazon.com/Physics-John...=UTF8&qid=1376416490&sr=1-21&keywords=physics. With this one, you wouldn't need to learn calculus first and of course calculus is not required for the IPhO problems. This could be the starting book you are looking for.

    PS. I think https://www.amazon.com/Physics-John...mm_hrd_title_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1376417946&sr=8-19 is the cheapest version available there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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