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Teach Yourself Physics

  1. Nov 9, 2006 #1
    I would like to know what the best book would be to teach myself physics. I graduated with a BS in Actuarial Science and have realized that I went the wrong direction scientifically. I would like to start learning physics and cannot afford to go back to college at this time. Please, any suggestions would help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2006 #2


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    If you know basic differential and integral calculus, I would suggest a calculus-based general physics book of the sort that is used in college freshman physics courses for prospective physics majors, For example, Halliday, Resnick and Walker, "Fundamentals of Physics".

    If you don't know any calculus yet, you can either learn some calculus first, then proceed with a book like the one above, or you can start with a non-calculus-based general physics book of the sort that is used in college physics courses for non-majors, such as Serway and Faughn, "College Physics".

    These are just examples. There are other books in both categories. Look at online syllabi for physics courses at various colleges to see what they use. If you have a college or university nearby, look in the bookstore and see what they have. Many college bookstores sell used textbooks, which is somewhat cheaper than buying new ones.
  4. Nov 9, 2006 #3
    Thanks. I want to look for something calculus-based since I took all the calculus classes that Bowling Green State University has to offer. I would like to sooner or later move into quantum physics, but for now, I need to build a solid base. I'm sure that in order to fully comprehend physics material, lab time is crucial, but that will have to wait until later.

    Any suggestions on good internet-based material as well?
  5. Nov 9, 2006 #4

    Math Is Hard

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  6. Nov 10, 2006 #5
    Hi Stack81,

    I have thought just like you long before when I got the Faculty of Engineering instead of Faculty of Physics. But, it was some bit very close to physics, especially Communications and Electronics Dept.

    What I can see suitable is (After revising the basic and most important topics in mathematics; complex numbers, vectors, matrices and tensors, differentiation and integration.... and differential Equation {ordinary and partially}):
    a. Mechanics (Kinetics and Kinematics in a Newtonian basis). Although Newtonian Mechanics are now believed to devitate from reality in wide domains, it is very important to understand it upon certain threshold.
    b. Newtonian Gravity and Maxwellian Electromagnetism. Simply: the equations forming each and how to solve them and understand general features. (Feymann's Lectures would be a very good source for the second.)
    c. Basics of Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics including Nuclear strong and weak forces.
    d. Special Relativity is a MUST. It is best to begin with a very few basics and undertsand them very well, with knowing the very specific domain of applying each. Most books don't get into the story directly. SR is to understand Lorentz Equations (Transformations) after understanding the meaning of "The Constancy of the speed of Light".
    e. Quantum Theory (Mechanics). "Basic Quatum Mechanics" is the best simple and direct book that I have ever found in Quantum Mechanics. (In my opinion deal with Quantum Mechanics only through equations and try to have the right meaning by yourself!!)
    f. General Relativity. It is a great sea, lost in it who's lost and driving in it who is trying to survive:) So, make your issue and try to begin driving...... Right Driving. There is a good web page available if you want. It has now been removed..
    g. Quantum Field Theories; especially QED. Feymann's Lectures are very good for these. But, unfortunately they don't contain the nasic equations for it.
    h. General overview over String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity Theory. They are incomplete but are expected to have good future.

    By this, you will have finished a very specialized Collection of the whole pfysics. But, still unspecialized in a certain field.

    Welcome for any inquires.

    Amr Morsi.
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