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Using my excellent math to imporve my poor physics skills

  1. Oct 1, 2009 #1
    Hello i am new in this forum, and i really apreciate the fact that you guys help.


    I am in grade 12, I have excellent mathematical skills (especially in algebra and advanced functions), I rank first in my advanced functions class. However i my grades in grade 11 physics are low.

    In university i will be taking alot of physics due to my career plans (mcat, ect.., but dont mind that), and i will not have the chance to fit in mathematics (since i need more important courses, and it does not benifit my carreer in medicine anyways).

    1- How can i incorporate my math skills into physics, so that i do well in it
    (and so that they dont go to a waste, and actually become productive)?

    2- If i dont take high school grade 12 physics (so it wont lower my average), does it put me in a huge handicap in university?

    3- What type of math is the MOST IMPORTANT to do Physics, and without it, physics would be almost impossible?

    4-If an expert mathematician who has never seen/done physics before, is given a physics problem in a test, will he be able to solve it using his math?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2009 #2

    chroot

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    You will be required to follow a specific curriculum for at least the first few years of your degree, which I assume will be in biology or pre-medicine. If the curriculum includes physics classes, then it will also include whatever mathematics courses are appropriate co-reqs for the physics classes.

    1. You must study and practice physics to become good at physics. Your math skills will make things easier, but there is no substitute for solving problems.

    2. Most universities offer a non-calculus introductory physics class, which is required for general education for those in non-technical majors. They generally do not assume any specific preparation in high school beyond algebra. (If you enjoy physics and are comfortable with calculus, you should really try to take calculus-based physics instead, though.)

    3. This is pretty much a nonsense question -- all mathematics is important to physics -- but calculus is probably the most fundamental. You will not be expected to know any mathematics beyond calculus for the introductory physics classes that you will be required to take as a bio or pre-med student.

    4. No.

    - Warren
     
  4. Oct 1, 2009 #3

    Pengwuino

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    hehe, #4 is the funniest in my experience. We have a math professor at our school who is sitting in on graduate physics courses. The guy is smart, even by phds in mathematics go, so his mathematical abilities are of no question. Apparently though, he just does NOT get the physics.

    You could probably throw most physicists into just a upper division college chemistry course and they'd be pretty clueless even though chemistry, as some might say, boils down to physics (and physics boils down to math). They are separate subjects for a reason.
     
  5. Oct 1, 2009 #4
    heh, there's a bit of a divide between maths and physics. We call it "the real world" =)

    I'm going to say that the skills required to do more advanced mathematical (proof based) problem sets (not necessarily the math, just whats on the tests) are very different from those required to do college level physics sets. Mathematical rigor is mainly passed over- as long as you can compute the answer derived from your physical system you should be ok.

    For undergraduate physics, I'd say you most need diff eq, linear algebra, and statistics assuming you have a good grasp of basic calc/algebra/arithmetic.

    I find the arithmetic to be the most challenging.
     
  6. Oct 2, 2009 #5

    chroot

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    Please note that the OP does not intend to pursue a degree in physics. Math beyond calculus will probably not be required in his curriculum.

    - Warren
     
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