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Thread: Where To Begin?

  1. #1 Where To Begin? 
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    Good morning, all.

    First off, I realise I may be creating this topic in completely the wrong area. If so, I hope you won't hold it against me.

    I like to believe I'm the intelligent type - I enjoy learning new things. However, my learning/education was stunted due to my expulsion from secondary school (the UK equivalent to high school). Over the past few years, I have noticed a growing desire to understand what is around me. Why things are the way they are, etc. For a while, I found that my appetite for knowledge was whetted by learning computer programming. Recently, though, my need for understanding has overcome me.

    I am here because I want learn. Unfortunately for myself it seems schooling is now out-of-the-question, thanks to my earlier misadventures. That, I hope, will not stop me. I learned computer science on my own, and I feel I could begin my journey into cosmology and astronomy on my own, too, maybe with the help of the kind folk here.

    So, self-important rambling out-of-the-way, my question is this: for a newcomer to the subject, with a basic knowledge of high-school science partnered with a decent capacity for learning, where would you recommend I start? What books? What websites? What subjects?

    If you have made it this far, I do sincerely thank you for your time.


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  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator Dishmaster's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. It is always nice to see someone trying to educate himself. However, I must warn you that in order to understand astronomy, you will have to have or gain a pretty good understanding in math as well. Modern astronomy is regarded as a discipline of physics. A pretty good starting point is a book that I can recommend:

    Fundamental Astronomy by H. Karttunen


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  4. #3 Re: Where To Begin? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    So, self-important rambling out-of-the-way, my question is this: for a newcomer to the subject, with a basic knowledge of high-school science partnered with a decent capacity for learning, where would you recommend I start? What books? What websites? What subjects?

    If you have made it this far, I do sincerely thank you for your time.
    This depends on your interests. If you are interested in physical sciences, then I suggest that you start with Richsrd Feynman's The Character of Physical Law".
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dishmaster
    Welcome to the forum. It is always nice to see someone trying to educate himself. However, I must warn you that in order to understand astronomy, you will have to have or gain a pretty good understanding in math as well. Modern astronomy is regarded as a discipline of physics. A pretty good starting point is a book that I can recommend:

    Fundamental Astronomy by H. Karttunen
    Of course. Thanks to my experience in computer science, my mathematics is much better than my general science.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
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  6. #5 Re: Where To Begin? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    So, self-important rambling out-of-the-way, my question is this: for a newcomer to the subject, with a basic knowledge of high-school science partnered with a decent capacity for learning, where would you recommend I start? What books? What websites? What subjects?

    If you have made it this far, I do sincerely thank you for your time.
    This depends on your interests. If you are interested in physical sciences, then I suggest that you start with Richsrd Feynman's The Character of Physical Law".
    Physical science is correct.

    Thanks for the recommendation, DrRocket.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    Of course. Thanks to my experience in computer science, my mathematics is much better than my general science.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
    If your experience in computer science has gotten you through calculus, then another Feynman book, this one not a popularization but rather an introductory physics text in three volumes is highly recommended -- The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Feynman, Leighton, and Sands. This book is based on lectures by Feynman for a freshman/sophomore physics class at Cal Tech in the 1960's. It is probably the best introductory physics book ever. It is not easy, but it is profound and uses only elementary mathematics.
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  8. #7  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    If your experience in computer science has gotten you through calculus, then another Feynman book, this one not a popularization but rather an introductory physics text in three volumes is highly recommended -- The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Feynman, Leighton, and Sands. This book is based on lectures by Feynman for a freshman/sophomore physics class at Cal Tech in the 1960's. It is probably the best introductory physics book ever. It is not easy, but it is profound and uses only elementary mathematics.
    There's also this:

    http://research.microsoft.com/apps/t...ata=3%7C%7C%7C
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  9. #8  
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    Those lectures are what was published in book form as The Character of Physical Law. They are excellent.
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  10. #9  
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    Cheers, guys. My to-buy list is growing.
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  11. #10 Re: Where To Begin? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    Good morning, all.

    I like to believe I'm the intelligent type.
    So do I but remain far from convinced.
    Best of luck with your reading and I'm sure you will be posting regularly. You may even make your mark in astronomy and other places!
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  12. #11 Re: Where To Begin? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    Good morning, all.

    So, self-important rambling out-of-the-way.
    Give yourself a chance. I'm sure there is plenty more to come!
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  13. #12  
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    Kind words, Halliday. Mucho thankos!

    Mark (is not Spanish, and unwittingly racist)
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks
    Kind words, Halliday. Mucho thankos!

    Mark (is not Spanish, and unwittingly racist)
    Your obvious command of language and clever use of words suggest you are.
    Alternatively, it could be your elegant prose style and accent!
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