Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is/are the correct way(s) to learn Physics ?

  1. Jan 28, 2010 #1
    What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    I would like to see what opinions others have regarding this point. How can one learn and enjoy "Physics" at the same time? There may not be an answer applicable for all but still some common advices may be given. I wonder when can one confidently say that one has learned a topic properly. How to test that?
    Sadly in my case, during upper level classes, due to huge syllabus and course works to be covered in relatively short time, I often had no time to think about each topic with care. I always had the exams/grades in mind and as a result, I just passed exams, but I did not really enjoy my subject. Although I could appreciate the overall structure of the subject but often failed to appreciate the subtleties. That was a huge loss for me. I would like to see what others propose in this regard.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2010 #2
    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    Learn to not forget things and learn to sketch the solutions to problems in your head during the lectures so that you don't need to do practice problems, then physics becomes fun.
  4. Jan 28, 2010 #3
    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    I honestly don't know how to learn and enjoy physics at the same time. If anyone finds the secret let me know. I often wish I never had to do another proof of an algebraic relationship ever again. For me that's the only part of physics which isn't fun. Unfortunately that's what I'm spending the majority of my life doing right now. There comes a point when I'm just not going to get that much better at algebra, and in fact I simply don't care enough. I'm not talking about problems where there are more intricate mathematical manipulations involved, clearly one must learn how to do those new manipulations. I'm talking about pure algebra where the finished problem takes three pages to write out, that's just mental torture, for me at least.

    I understand that it's an important skill, and often it helps you get a better understanding of how quantities are related and such. But pounding my head against my desk because I can't figure out how to derive a relationship between the compressibility and the expansion coefficient is just not the way I want to spend the rest of my life. I'm about to graduate and was considering grad school, there has to be more to physics than this right? I don't know I would love to learn how to like physics again like I used to.

    So I'm anxious to hear if anyone knows the secret I've been missing.
  5. Jan 28, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    I can sympathise with you, it does seem that an overload of courses makes you to lose the subtelties of each individual course.
    But this is also the problem of academic learning which has a narrow time schedule, so you can't expand your horizons while taking courses, you just learn what the specific syllabus of the course without really grasping the subject.
    My only recommendation to you, when (and if) you have spare time between semesters to learn the stuff which interset you.

    Cause as the saying goes:" reading for a task and not from curiosity will not help you at all".
    George's has a better quotation than mine.
  6. Jan 28, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    No pain => No gain.

    That's the secret. :zzz:
    Good night!
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #6
    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    What I feel is the guiding principle for me is one of Niels Bohr's sayings. "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." At least for me, it is impossible to appreciate all the materials in almost all physics classes because the purpose of these classes is to make me know enough physics (which is also important), not to appreciate them. Knowing everything for the sake of knowing everything has diminishing returns. So I have learnt to pick some specific topic that I really enjoy at the moment and study it in details. If it doesn't connect to any of my knowledge, then stop it. But my experience is that, if I understand it, this small topic usually gives me a better picture of how knowledges from different corners of my head hung together. Sometimes those knowledges that are previously useless are some fine points from classwork that I didn't appreciate before. So something I enjoy doing can actually turn into something "useful." That's what I enjoy the most. Well, it's a very very tiny achievement. But it's my achievement nevertheless.

    Phyisab****, I'm sorry to hear that too. George Jones' quote is really true.
  8. Jan 28, 2010 #7
    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    But does Pain=k*Gain ?
  9. Jan 29, 2010 #8
    Re: What is/are the correct way(s) to learn "Physics"?

    Thanks for sharing your views. Personally I feel if I use knowledge of physics to satisfy my curiosity about how things happen in nature, it becomes enjoyable. Otherwise learning physics becomes like accumulating information, kind of a burden. Earlier when I was a student of lower class, I used to ask lots of questions but with accumulating pressure to finish a huge amount of lesson in a short time in upper classes, I lost this habit. That is how I stopped enjoying the subject.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook