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Trying to learn physics for first time

  1. Nov 18, 2008 #1
    hey smarty pants,

    I'm trying to teach myself physics by what's on this site, but so far I feel like i'm missing something along the way. I'm taking Algebra @ college right now and not really having trouble with it, but should i learn calculus before attempting physics?

    thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2008 #2
    Basic Newtonian physics does not require calculus. Better to pick up a beginning physics textbook and go through it. Ask questions you have on the book here.
  4. Nov 18, 2008 #3
    Is basic Newtonian Physics also known as Classical Mechanics? Should I even attempt to read Principia Mathematica or find a simplified book on that topic?
  5. Nov 18, 2008 #4
    When people say classical mechanics they are usually referring to stuff beyond introductory Newtonian mechanics, but the terminology isn't standardized and it can refer to Newtonian mechanics as well.

    I don't think there is a lot of value in reading ancient original texts such as Principia. Scholars have taken that information and made it into a much more readable and learn-able format. If you already know the material and you're interested in history then you can probably find some value in reading original material, but otherwise you ought to stick to modern texts.
  6. Nov 18, 2008 #5

    Andy Resnick

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    Classical mechanics is a much broader field than Newtonian mechanics- it encompasses continua and fields in addition to point particles.

    If you want to read the Pincipia, feel free to- but why not read a more modern text, one that has the benefit of 300+ years of additional insight? Newton is not the last word.
  7. Nov 18, 2008 #6
    Find a modern book on that topic. It doesn't have to be simplified. :smile:

    The historical documents can be interesting, but they are most emphatically *NOT* a good place to learn the subject. The language and notation are very unusual to present day readers.
  8. Nov 18, 2008 #7
    Cool, thank you for all the advice. I actually already found a book online called "Newtonian Physics" by Benjamin Crowell. I think I will start there and see where it takes me.
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