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The Relation between Pre-Calculus and physics?

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

So far I like pre-calculus; and as I sit in class I always try to ponder ways on how what we are getting taught applies to physics. So what is the relation between pre-calculus forumlas and concepts and how it can explain the physical (and crazy quantum) world around us?

In the case this is too broad of a question:

Do functions and graphs help measure how atoms will act (move) over time (without external forces)?

Do tigonometric functions help measure how the wave form of an electron will behave (frequency and amplitude)? Because the way I see it, tigonometric fuctions basically look as waves.

How about explaining their energy counterpart? Such as measuring gravitational energy, kinetic energy, mass energy, electrical energy, electrical potential energy, so on and so forth.

----

Sorry if it made absoloutely no sense. :eek: Its just I was sitting in class, and the way I saw all these lines drawn on the graph made me see the path of an inertial object. And other graphs made me see the wave property of electrons.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Nabeshin
Science Advisor
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I'm obviously not familiar with your precalculus class, but most of the things you learn are very applicable to basically everything in physics. A lot of physics is algebraic manipulation of expressions to get them into a desired form -- things like trig identities and what have you.

I'm not sure what you mean by "functions such as algebraic functions and nonelementary". Do you mean by non-elementary sines? Exponential? Because these are what most physicists would call elementary! Usually we refer to non-elementary functions as things like Bessel functions (you can look them up if you want). Anyways, nothing you learn in a precalculus class is really terribly interesting in its application to physics. It's rather like knowing that there exist sentences and paragraphs, and while learning the alphabet trying to see how it applies to sentences and so forth.

Even your clarification seems a bit broad to me, so if you have any more specific questions I'll try to chime in :)
 
  • #3
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I'm obviously not familiar with your precalculus class, but most of the things you learn are very applicable to basically everything in physics. A lot of physics is algebraic manipulation of expressions to get them into a desired form -- things like trig identities and what have you.

I'm not sure what you mean by "functions such as algebraic functions and nonelementary". Do you mean by non-elementary sines? Exponential? Because these are what most physicists would call elementary! Usually we refer to non-elementary functions as things like Bessel functions (you can look them up if you want). Anyways, nothing you learn in a precalculus class is really terribly interesting in its application to physics. It's rather like knowing that there exist sentences and paragraphs, and while learning the alphabet trying to see how it applies to sentences and so forth.

Even your clarification seems a bit broad to me, so if you have any more specific questions I'll try to chime in :)
Oh sorry, nonelementary functions is the term used in my book for:

Absolute value, piecwise-defined, greatest integer, and data defined functions.

Thanks, I think this narrows it down:

Do functions and graphs help measure how atoms will act (move) over time (without external forces)?

Do tigonometric functions help measure how the wave form of an electron will behave (frequency and amplitude)? Because the way I see it, tigonometric fuctions basically look as waves.

How about explaining their energy counterpart? Such as measuring gravitational energy, kinetic energy, mass energy, electrical energy, electrical potential energy, so on and so forth.

----

Sorry if it made absoloutely no sense. :eek: Its just I was sitting in class, and the way I saw all these lines drawn on the graph made me see the path of an inertial object. And other graphs made me see the wave property of electrons.
 

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