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Studying Would I struggle studying undergrad/physics?

  1. Jan 11, 2012 #1

    I'm pondering going back into education to study physics. Having left school at 13, there are naturally some areas of science and maths that I'm a little shakey on, some areas of science completely elude me.

    Why do I want to study physics? Well it's something that has interested me for years. My lack of knowledge in some areas is due to unwillingness to learn at school as opposed to inability, however I still find myself in a position where I could potentially struggle either way.

    Where would I study? Well, thankfully an establishment here in the UK called The Open University offer courses primarily aimed at a mature student looking to further their education. That said, prerequisites for courses aren't the same as 'normal', full-time universities.
    I would be studying natural sciences tailored to physics, or I suppose physics would be a 'major', though the outcome will still be considered a natural sciences degree.

    Postgrad? Well it's certainly something I'd like to consider if I manage undergrad comfortably. Again, another fear is that although I may be learning a fair bit of physics in undergrad, I don't know if what I'll learn will sufficiently prepare me for postgrad physics/nuclear physics/astrophysics.

    If it helps, I've just turned 23 and I would rather not revert back to college and go the 'conventional' way, as it would take 2-3 years just to take courses and sit exams to get the points to apply for university etc.

    Thanks in advance for any help and I'll be available if anyone has further questions if I haven't explained everything appropriately.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Welcome to PF.
    Depends on your preparation and how much fun you find physics, and math.
    If you enjoy puzzles you should be OK - just will take you a bit to come up to speed.
    The usual approach is to take a refresher course - the Open University tends to be a learn-at-your-own-pace - if you hit a problem you can go to a more basic course to recap.

    However, unless you know others doing a similar course, you will be at a disadvantage probably more important than your lack of experience. Students discuss the coursework amongst their peers and this social interaction helps with motivation and learning.

    Try out the papers, look through the course material, and try to fit the course to what you enjoy. These days there is the internet so there is always help.
  4. Jan 11, 2012 #3
    How good is your math?? If you want to start studying physics, then your math needs to be excellent. You should be able to solve these questions with relative ease:

    1) Factor [itex]x^3-2x^2-x+2=0[/itex].

    2) Solve the system

    [tex]\left\{\begin{array}{c}2x+2y+6z=7\\ 4x+5y=3\\ 6x+7z=3 \end{array}\right.[/tex]

    3) Prove


    4) You are standing from a certain distance from a tower. The bottom and the top of the tower make an angle of 25° with your eyes. You step 10m forward and the angle increases to 30°. How high is the tower?

    5) Find all the x such that

    [tex]3\log_2(x)-\log_2(x+1)\geq 2[/tex]

    If you have significant trouble with these math exercises, then your math is not good enough. I suggest getting a good math book and start working through it.

    I recommend the book "basic mathematics" by Serge Lang. It's a wonderful book and certainly worth a read.
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