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Thread: Teaching yourself Physics

  1. #1 Teaching yourself Physics 
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    Hi everyone,

    As the thread title suggests, I am interested in 'teaching myself' Physics. I start Uni soon, however I was unable to fit a class in Physics in to my timetable for the first semester. I would however, like to begin to learn about this fascinating subject.

    How much or how little do you believe one could teach themselves effectively? So as to have a solid, accurate understanding of the material? And are there any sources out there you would recommend for such an endeavour? I know there are a lot of 'variables' involved in this situation, though I can assure you I am dedicated to studying this subject in as much detail and with equal commitment as I would any I am enrolled in at University.

    Thanks in advance,
    David.


    It is said that anticipation evokes happiness, so I say: look forward to every tomorrow.
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    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    David, do you have a specific area within physics you are interested in ? It is very difficult to study all of physics unless you devote pretty much all your time to it, because there are so many sub-disciplines, like quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, cosmology etc etc.


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    @Markus Hanke: Thanks for your reply. I'd like to start with 'the basics' first, if this is possible. My major is Geological Science, so an area relevant to that would be obviously be the most suitable. Is there anything you can recommend? Thanks again.
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    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidT View Post
    @Markus Hanke: Thanks for your reply. I'd like to start with 'the basics' first, if this is possible. My major is Geological Science, so an area relevant to that would be obviously be the most suitable. Is there anything you can recommend? Thanks again.
    I think a good basis then would be Classical Mechanics, as well as Thermodynamics and Electrodynamics. From there then it really kind of splits into two domains: you got the macro-domain, which means Theory of Relativity ( special & general ), thus gravitation. Then there is the micro-domain, represented by quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, combined into the Standard Model, which explains the behavior and characteristics of the fundamental particles and their interactions.
    Sorry if this sounds like gibberish. It is kind of hard to categorize all of physics into general categories. Anyway, if I were you I would start with classical mechanics, which is sort of the "middle ground" in physics. Most of this you will probably have encountered in High School & general science, but you can go into much more depth with vectors in 3 dimensions etc etc if you so wish.
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    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
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    There are plenty of textbooks aimed at first year uni students, the university library should have a whole bunch of them or if you've been given access to the uni's website already then you may even be able to find an online copy of some textbooks. Such books often cover subjects mentioned by Markus as well as waves, fluids, optics and nuclear physics.

    Not knowing much about geological science i can only guess that fluids and thermodynamics would be useful to know, maybe bits and pieces of the rest.
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    If you are ok with a bit of calculus, I would recommend the feyman lectures on physics as a great place to start.
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    Thanks for all your help guys. I took wallaby's advice and used my universities online library to get an introduction to classical mechanics e-book. So far it has proved a great resource! And TheObserver, I will be sure to check out the feyman lectures. Even if I can't quite understand it all, I do enjoy watching / reading lectures. I've already watched a few from MIT and the sort on youtube... very interesting stuff!

    Thanks again for your help.
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