UnderGround Forums
 

AcademicGround >> Learning Physics, Chemistry, Etc When You're Not..


7/3/08 1:00 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WizzleTeatsv2
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/22/07
Posts: 1266
 
...in college anymore.

I posted this on the OG but I also thought I'd get a better response here...

So I'm in the process of re-learning Spanish and Latin (not really impressive as it sounds, I took 4 years of Latin and 4 or 5 years of Spanish) and I'm becoming more interested in learning more about the hard sciences.

I have always been a writer and artist and while I enjoy reading about quantum physics, string theory, etc. I lack the background to really understand the math behind most of it. I enjoy math, although my mathematics education ended with geometry and algebra.

So...anyone have any advice regarding books (textbooks are fine) that I can pick up? or anywhere I can find some chemistry, physics, etc. courses online?

Please and thank you, bitches.
7/3/08 1:02 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Weasling
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 4/5/03
Posts: 4641
Not that I'm an expert but check out the list of books required for students of that program at your nearest university bookstore
7/3/08 2:31 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Weasling
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 4/5/03
Posts: 4654
stay away from the OG if you want to educate yourself about something ... it's like kryptonite to academic progress
7/3/08 8:42 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WizzleTeatsv2
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/22/07
Posts: 1271
HMmmm...good point about the list...and the OG, lol.
7/3/08 4:21 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Khartman
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 2/28/06
Posts: 84
You may find some useful information at MIT's Open Course website. There are graduate and undergraduate courses, but some courses have a few lecture notes, while others only have a midterm, etc...

http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm
7/6/08 9:44 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
BarkLikeADog
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 10/11/05
Posts: 7381
MITs open course is an awesome thing. Wikipedia is cool even with its obvious warts. Quantum physics I would steer clear from as anything other than a dilettante unless you're really solid on regular physics first.
7/6/08 7:38 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Revolver of Reason
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 42773
MIT's OpenCourseWare is good but aimed at MIT students, which are academically a cut above and are frequently already on the ground running in their subject. For instance, their old CS 101 book, Structure And Interpretation Of Computer Programs, would be more like a sophmore or early junior book in many other colleges. They can get away with this because the bulk of the majors already know programming basics and are whipsmart.

I'd go to the bookstore for one of your decent local colleges (you have plenty in Boston), make a list of the books in the bookstore that are used, and buy them online for cheap.

try to find online forums that support the field you are learning about. You're gonna get stuck or need clarification at some point probably, and it's good to have a place to turn to.

for math, Dover books are cheap but mostly not all that great. The good stuff is usually expensive.

if you want to have a decent level of understanding of these fields, you'll probably want to know -

1. Math For The Sciences - Precalculus/Trigonometry, Calculus I-III, Linear Algebra, maybe Differential Equations. Calc and Differential Equations are crucial, but a real Differential Equations class is brutal. It's also important for a deep understanding of higher level physics.

I'd spend most of your time initially getting better at math. Math is to the sciences as English is to the liberal arts, it's the tool in your toolbox that can be taken to any technical field and applied.

2. Physics - you'll want to take Physics I and II, which is about kinematics (moving objects) and electromagnetism. Once you get those down and a decent amount of math you can go where you want to.

if you want to learn about higher level physics, once you have a reasonable math background the book "The Road To Reality" by Penrose will give you a reasonably rigorous introduction/sampler to higher level physics subjects, and you can figure out where to go from there.

3. Chemistry - You'll want to do Chemistry I and II, and probably organic chemistry (a bitch) and inorganic chemistry. once you do organic chemistry you can do biochem (another bitch).

4. Math For Math's Sake - The critical courses are - Introduction to Proofs, Introduction To Set Theory and Logic, Number Theory, Probability/Statistics/Combinatorics, and Abstract Algebra. Once you do those you'll have the toolset to start investigating whatever math you want to.

5. Computer Science - if you're interested in computers, going through the online course "How To Think Like A Computer Scientist", A Data Structures And Algorithms course, a Computer Architecture and Assembly Language course, knowing the basics of Web programming and modern database usage, and an abbrievated Theory Of Computation course will let you know enough to be both dangerous and useful. Once you can do half of that, try taking a look at SICP, it's a real classic.

if you were a practicing scientist it would be really useful for you to learn how to program, even just in MATLAB or Mathematica, but I think you're doing this to learn so it's not as important. So if you don't give a fuck about computers, just skip this.

6. Engineering - doing the math you need for physics and later chemistry classes, and also taking physics classes, will give you the background you need to do many engineering fields. Immediately fun and practical ones are Electrical/Electronic Engineering (you can make a surprising amount of cool shit) and Mechanical Engineering (if you can design a car, repairing one is not so hard)
7/7/08 11:16 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Revolver of Reason
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 42790
 111, 112, 205, 206, 211 (assuming it's a hardware class), 411, and 314 should give you the tools to do most things.
7/8/08 12:57 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WizzleTeatsv2
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/22/07
Posts: 1383
Wow, thanks RoR. That is very helpful.

I figured expanding my math skills would be the place to start.

BTW, have you ever read Feynman's Lectures on Physics? Someone recommended them to me as a very good starting point.
7/10/08 8:26 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Revolver of Reason
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 42883
 they're reputedly good. I've only read 6 Easy and 6 Not So Easy Pieces, which are small and fluffy but good.

I think they would be fine to start with if you're very math-literate already, if not get math literate.
7/11/08 7:29 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
asdf
5 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 15286
I agree with opencourseware being tough. I checked out the MIT undergrad engineer program and my engineering programand the MIT was way way way tougher. And I went to a top 25 (US-news anyway) undergrad school.
7/18/08 10:16 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
groundfighter2000
467 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 17450
ttt, im taking chem and physics in the fall, and kind of want to get a leg up and prepare and study, learn some essentials this summer, any help would be appreciated
9/8/08 9:14 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
FightMeI'mIrish
6 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 2/1/06
Posts: 286
Kenn Amdahl has a couple of books I highly recomend if you want to sharpen up your math.

"Algebra Unleashed", and "Calculus for Cats"

Don't let the silly titles throw you off, these books explain math in a way that teachers were never able to do for me. And he explains it all in a fun, joking style ripe with strange metaphors to help you really "get it". For math books, they are actully quite entertaining.

After reading these books, I understand math as an integrated whole, no longer as hundreds of rules and formulas that need to be memorized.

Kenn Amdahl does a great job of explaining "Why?", Exactly the question my math teachers were never very good at.


On a related note he also has a book called, "There are no Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings". If you were ever interested in electronics, this is hands down the most informative and entertaining book on the subject I've ever read.
9/8/08 9:33 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
groundfighter2000
467 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 17879
FightMel'mIrish, thank you for these suggestions! I'm taking General Physics and General Chem this fall (and second semesters in the spring), i just started last week. This is just the kind of stuff i need as both profs told all the students if they are rusty its very important that they brush up on their basic maths.
9/12/08 7:03 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
sexybutt69
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 8/9/07
Posts: 43
I would say that learning math just for physics would be tough. Like ROR says, it's really the language they use. For more advanced texts, you have to be fairly fluent. I guess for Physics I and II though, you only need a basic understanding of calculus, if that, depending on the book.

I highly recommend "Conceptual Physics" by Paul Hewitt. It's all the stuff you'd find in Physics I and II with little to no math. I can't stress enough though that it is NOT AT ALL dumbed down. I just finished my 5th year of grad school and of all the texts I've read to date, it's one of the best.
9/12/08 9:59 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WizzleTeatsv2
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/22/07
Posts: 1896
Cool, thanks for all the recommendation guys.
9/25/08 4:05 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
groundfighter2000
467 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 17914
I "acquired" the conceptual physics book by paul hewitt. Hopefully it will help. I also acquired Physics for Dummies and a workbook that goes with it.

Im three weeks into my courses (Chem I and Phys I), chem is a breeze so far, physics im completely lost.
10/16/08 1:14 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
P.V.Jena
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 1575
These are nice, intro-undergrad level books
http://www.lightandmatter.com/books.html

Like a not-too-hard two semester freshman physics course would probably use it.
11/7/08 10:50 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
microbiologynerd
1207 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 5/28/02
Posts: 25693
 paul- check out "physics of the impossible" by michio kaku- not very math heavy, but he delves into some pretty cool shit like time travel and explains how close we are to doing these wacky ideas
11/17/08 2:10 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
groundfighter2000
467 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 18074
^lol^ thanks
7/20/09 6:10 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
supersaiyan
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/20/02
Posts: 21453
ttt
4/1/11 3:44 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Rumblefish
574 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 8/5/03
Posts: 12493
ttt
4/10/11 11:18 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Gforce
40 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9563
http://www.rapidlearningcenter.com/

No way I would be in med school--certainly not at a school of this caliber--without the above site.

Stuff is incredible.
4/11/11 9:40 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Martinez!
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/22/07
Posts: 3893
Cool, thanks for the info everyone. Totally forgot about this thread...lol.
6/8/11 10:11 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
theseanster
293 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 5/13/02
Posts: 17170
FightMeI'mIrish - Kenn Amdahl has a couple of books I highly recomend if you want to sharpen up your math.

"Algebra Unleashed", and "Calculus for Cats"

Don't let the silly titles throw you off, these books explain math in a way that teachers were never able to do for me. And he explains it all in a fun, joking style ripe with strange metaphors to help you really "get it". For math books, they are actully quite entertaining.

After reading these books, I understand math as an integrated whole, no longer as hundreds of rules and formulas that need to be memorized.

Kenn Amdahl does a great job of explaining "Why?", Exactly the question my math teachers were never very good at.


On a related note he also has a book called, "There are no Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings". If you were ever interested in electronics, this is hands down the most informative and entertaining book on the subject I've ever read.

 Algebra Unplugged is what you mean, right?

Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.