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The Road to Reality-worthwhile for someone who knows more math than physics?

  1. Sep 14, 2012 #1
    The Road to Reality--worthwhile for someone who knows more math than physics?

    Like the title says I have a solid understanding of a fair amount of math (multi and single variable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, differential geometry) but essentially no physics except for a high school algebra based mechanics course.

    Would Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality be a worthwhile endeavor for someone like me, so as to give myself a more rigorous overview of modern physics? I realize of course that there's no substitute for many years of training in physics, but perhaps as an introduction that wouldn't be too simple or too limited?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2012 #2
    Re: The Road to Reality--worthwhile for someone who knows more math than physics?

    I think it's a worthwhile endeavor, but don't underestimate the difficulty of the book, the "popular science" label, not withstanding.

    In order to understand a lot of it, you would end up having to look at other references along the way, so don't think you can really get away with just one book if you are going to learn about physics properly. If you want a superficial knowledge of physics, you can read one book; if you want substantial knowledge, there's really no shortcut to all the hard work. Depends on what your goal is with the physics. If it is just to get an idea, you can read popular books. If it is to give a broader background for math, a lot of physics topics are nice to know, but not strictly necessary. I always thought when I took an electromagnetism class, it gave a big boost to my mathematical abilities and contributed significantly to my understanding of many mathematical topics, including vector calculus and differential forms.

    If you only are willing to read one book, I would suggest being less ambitious and just starting at the beginning with calculus-based introductory physics. If you wanted two books, I would suggest adding electromagnetism on top of that.

    Another thing to try might be to watch the Susskind lectures, which you can find online.
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