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Where do I start?

  1. Jan 14, 2009 #1
    Hi, I am totally new to physics as in I haven't even started to learn it at school and wanting to learn it here, and i dont know where to start. :(
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2009 #2
    and i want to be a physicist but that might be a bit optimistic conisdering i know zeep about it.
  4. Jan 14, 2009 #3
    I've told people before and I'll tell you. Stephen Hawking's "A Breif History of Time, is the perfect place to start to get some physics legs under you. I like the illustrated version. Though it's a bit more expensive, I think the diagrams help greatly with understanding some of the concepts. Cosmos (both the book and the TV miniseries), by Carl Sagan is another classic layman physics intro, though it's getting a little dated by now. It's also geared to a slightly younger crowd, so if you're in the middle school to early High School range, that might be a good bet.

    Other than that, take all the classes you can in physical science, mathematics and physics whenever you can. Also, good sci-fi authors can teach you a lot as well (or at least point you in the direction of questions to ask in the real world). Arthur C. Clark in particular was excellent at mixing real science in his fiction. Rendezvous with Rama and 2001 are both good examples of sci-fi with real science, both of which you can likely find cheap at a used book store somewhere. Larry Niven has some quality science as well in books like Ringworld and The Mote in God's Eye, which again should be a couple bucks at any used book store worth the name.

    Other than that, watch the Discovery Channel or the Science Channel, they have some good space/physics shows. Everything will help, you just have to start building a base of knowledge, and add the more complex stuff on as you learn more.

    Also, I don't know how old you are (you seem fairly young), so I'll say: If you want it, don't give up. You know what separates someone who always wanted to a physicist but never made it, and someone who is a physicist? The decision to do it, no matter how hard it got. That's it. Trite, but true! :D
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  5. Jan 14, 2009 #4
    Thanks, I have read the brief history of time and briefer history of time and some numerouse tv series that explains time and space. I am very interested in time and space stuff... and im 13
  6. Jan 14, 2009 #5
    The best thing you can do at this point is to make sure you have a solid grasp of all the math that you are taught in middle and high school. You might want to consider getting books that go outside of the curriculum (e.g. a book on challenging geometry/trigonometry). Everything that you are taught in a high school math class will be needed eventually in physics. Keep in mind that general-audience physics books are great to see if you'd like to do physics but won't help you all that much in a physics class (that's my experience but then again I haven't taken anything beyond mechanics)
  7. Jan 14, 2009 #6
    Learn high school math, then learn calculus.
  8. Jan 15, 2009 #7
    Make sure you don't slack off in algebra, geometry, and precalc. Understand them to their core, because they pop up all over the place later on.

    Personally, I think you can start ahead in your mathematics. I think the US math is waay too slow, start Geometry in 6th grade. Algebra 1 for 7th grade, Algebra II for 8th grade (the conventional is Alg 1, Geometry, then Alg 2, I never get why they break up algebra) and then precalculus in high school. You should be in Caculus as a sophomore. Then by junior year, you can start tackling some more "advance" physics (which essentially is college first or second year).

    Make sure you understand the basics, they will come and haunt you later.
  9. Jan 15, 2009 #8
    I live in Australia, so no middle schools but i will pay an incredible amount of attention in class and hope for the best! Thanks everyone.
  10. Jan 15, 2009 #9
    Wow, when do you usually start algebra in America?

    I was doing algebra in your equivalent of fifth grade :S
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