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To calc or not to calc

  1. Jul 12, 2006 #1

    I am planning on majoring in physics and I am wondering if there is any advantage to taking algebra-based physics before calculus-based. I will have had calc 1 when it is time to take the physics course, so I will be taking calc 2 along with 2 other math/science courses at the same time. I have heard calc 2 is a difficult course, so I am curious as to whether the calc-based physics would be too much.

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  3. Jul 12, 2006 #2
    I took Calc 2 and the first quarter of Calc-based Physics (Mechanics) last quarter. It wasn't too bad, there were points where the material actually overlapped between classes (work, center of mass, etc.). As long as you keep up with the homework it shouldn't be too bad.
  4. Jul 12, 2006 #3


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    I too think you should take the calculus based physics course. In addition to the point raised above, it wiill serve as a good gauge of whether or not you want to be majoring in Physics. If you can handle Calc 2 with Calc-based Physics and another science course, you're doing fine. If you can't, you will in all likelihood, find the rest of the program a struggle.

    To paraphrase Feynman: Shut up and Calc! :biggrin:
  5. Jul 12, 2006 #4


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    it will be hard, but i agree that the overlap will help. and for understanding, really i think neither subject can be understood without the other.
  6. Jul 12, 2006 #5
    Well, if you can't manage Calc II and Physics I in the same semester, I don't know how well you'll be able to cope with the rest of the program. That depends on your school, of course, but still. . .

    Really, if you are going into the Physics, there is not much point to taking an Algebra based course. Most schools don't put them toward your major in any way, and you'll just be covering everything over again, and extra as soon as you hit Calc Phys. And Physics without Calculus is like a something that needs another something to be really good that does not have that something. Insert your own analogy.

    It won't be that difficult, unless you get a professor who rides you pretty hard. Keep on top of your homework, and try and make sure you don't drop behind in either class, and you'll be fine.
  7. Jul 12, 2006 #6
    Do the Calculus based physics course..it will prob be harder, but in many ways easier, if you understand the calculus.
  8. Jul 12, 2006 #7
    I think you'll find calculus beautiful in a way, and it gets to be even more exciting when you learn how to apply it!
  9. Jul 12, 2006 #8
    Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it.
  10. Jul 13, 2006 #9
    some professors even encourage it. they believe the concepts from calculus and calculus-based physics complement each other quite well; additionally they provide different ways to understand the same material. If you struggle with mathematical concepts, the physical interpretation of calc might be easier for you to understand. And vice versa.
  11. Jul 13, 2006 #10
    To Calc! Definitely.

    If you are planning a major in physics then you will be frequently taking math and physics courses simultaneously (much harder ones) so might as well start now. Also Algebra based physics is, imho, a waste of time since you will be relearning all of it in the calc based one, only with the whole picture in mind.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2006
  12. Jul 13, 2006 #11
    Calc, definitely. Otherwise you'll just be memorizing formulas and plugging in values without really understanding what is going on.
  13. Jul 13, 2006 #12


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  14. Jul 13, 2006 #13


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    It's not even a question, if you majoring in physics take calc-based physics. I'm sure if you meet with you university's advising center or you advisor or something of the like, they'll tell you the same thing.
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