Teaching myself Physics

Discussion in 'Community' started by ecino1, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. ecino1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    Location:
    Canada
    #1
    I am not too sure of the number of physics guru's here, but there must be a few. Well, basically I will be attending a science program at University this fall which involves me taking a physics course. The course description says it is equivilant to a grade 12 physics course. Throughout highschool I have not taken a single physics course (just biology and chemistry). I wanted to start getting farmiliar with the course a bit before I start University and was wondering if anyone here knows of a good book(s) on physics for beginners. I am looking for a book with sample questions and answers. If you could recommend something I would appreciate it. Thanks
     
  2. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #2
    Are you learning calculus based physics or non-calculus based physics? Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism (which also usually includes some optics and thermodynamics) or just mechanics? If you're looking to learn calculus based physics, I'd recomend the standard textbook "Physics" from Halliday, Walker and Resnick, which is used in some edition in a large percentage of high school physics classes. You can purchase seperate mechanics and E&M books, or get them together. They have sample problems worked after each lesson, and have ones for you to do with answers at the end of the book (although that may only be odd numbers, so you may want to get a teachers edition)
     
  3. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #3
    If you are going to teach yourself, listen to my advice:

    Make sure that you learn the concepts, not just the problems. Physics has a tendancy to throw problems at you that aren't recognizeable, but you can weed through it if you keep your mind open and think of the basic things that you have learned. And you need to come to realize that there is ALWAYS and easier way to do the problem (not always of course, but there are so many ways to do each problem that it could be true).

    Have fun with the course, it will change your way of seeing the world because you will begin to realize how it operates.

    Enjoy!

    P-Worm
     
  4. jxyama macrumors 68040

    jxyama

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    #4
    well, if it helps to put a little more weight on my post, i have a ph.d. in physics... what p-worm suggested is an excellent point. too many freshmen here (U of Michigan) come to the physics help room, being only interested in getting an answer to a particular question. the problem is, they cannot handle similar questions if the numbers are different and/or test slightly different (but related) concepts.

    learn the concepts and try to work out as many problems as possible. only through practices you will understand the concepts enough to be able to solve anything.

    halliday and resnick is an excellent physics book but you won't be able to access solutions to all the problems... go to a bookstore and see if there's a complementary book with just problems and solutions. work as many of them out as you can...

    the fact you are motivated enough to start now is a good indicator of your potential. not having taken any physics won't be a problem... i took HS physics after having only taken chem and bio. and after that class, freshman physics at the univ. was a piece of cake...
     
  5. ecino1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    Location:
    Canada
    #5
    Thanks for the replies. I will head to a chapters bookstore and pick up some of the recomended texts. Thanks.
     
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #6
    Yes, I majored in Physics as well.

    I'm not sure about the US, but in Canada, I don't think you'll be learning Elec & Magnetism in 12th Grade physics. I'm going to guess that Ecino is from Canada because he's going to a Chapters bookstore (its Canadian), and because he referred to it as "grade 12" instead of "12th grade", which is more typical for Americans. ;)

    Most basic Physics textbooks will do just fine, but the topics you'll need to learn are
    - Mechanics (distance/displacement, speed/velocity, and acceleration), - -Conservation of Energy
    - Conservation of momentum
    - Gravity-related questions

    I don't believe there to be much more to it than that. You may have to learn about angular speed and angular momentum, as well as some other topics, but the 4 points I made above are the main topics (maybe 80% of the material). Although I went to school in Ontario where we used to have 13 grades. It has now been reduced to 12 grades. I know exactly what I covered in Highschool, but maybe it has changed. I don't think it has changed too much, but make sure you know the things I mentioned, and you should be quite okay.

    And learn the concepts.
     
  7. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #7
    Well, at my high school we had the regular and honors level physics courses, which both covered some E&M, and then the A.P. Physics B class which covered pretty much the same material only more in depth, but without calculus, and finally the A.P. Physics C which was a calculus based 2 year course (some schools have it as a one year class) covering mechanics the first year and then everything else the next year, using the Walker and Resnick book. My only mistake was taking that class before I took calculus...I only managed a C in the class but did get a 4 (widely accepted score for credit) on the A.P. test.
     
  8. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #8
    i just graduated from Westwood High School in Texas, one of the top 50 public schools here in the US... my junior year i took AP physics B. the class was insanely easy, i thought, but not because we had a good teacher or easy exams, he just curved the grades with reckless abandon. physics C was much the same, my senior year, and he taught it so poorly that when the AP came, i didn't even bother taking the E&M section, heh. i'll get a better professor my freshman year for that. they teach the calc-based course for seniors in HS here, but it's "college level."

    an interesting statistic about APs and how they are becoming course-centric is that students who take the college classes that that they give credit for fail the AP exams in much higher numbers than the students that go through the AP class. this is especially true for science APs, so if you're majoring in a science and you took the APs for it, it may be a good idea to take the basic classes over, unless you are really good at it. it would probably be easy in light of having taken the AP, but still expand your understanding and better prepare you for the higher level tests.
     

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