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Tips for teaching oneself Physics?

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I just finished teaching myself the basics of Calculus. My next goal is to teach myself Physics. I have not previously had a Physics class in high school or college. I have a few questions: * Is there anything else I should know before starting? I have a great grasp of algebra and trigonometry, and I believe I have a workable knowledge of most things covered in a first Calculus course. Am I missing anything? * What book should I use? My criteria are that the book be accessible enough to be usable without the benefit of an instructor or class lectures, and that, hopefully, the book not be as overpriced as college textbooks are. I would be willing to pay for a college textbook on Physics if the content justified the price, but it has been my experience that college textbooks rarely do. * Are there other resources I should be aware of, besides, of course, Google? * Any general tips or anecdotal advice you''d care to offer? Thanks for taking the time to read this. "Baby-killer is a bad word though. Notice how as soon as you say it, you think negative things." - Peon

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For starting physics, all you really need is trignometry and algebra. You can move to calculus based physics after you understand the basics.

The net is a decent place for info. Resnick and Halliday is one standard college physics textbook. Sears and Zemansky is the other. They both cover Mechanics and E&M pretty well, but are meant for engineering students and physics majors, so are sometimes difficult to follow, and will leave you asking if you''re reading in English or some language that is foreign to you. I know the O''Reilly books are available free on the net. I don''t remember the site, but maybe someone can post it. They have "phsyics for game developers" or something like that.

Good luck!

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With algebra, trig and some calculus, you have a good basis to start learning physics.

I actually would recommend the Halliday and Resnick textbook as a good starting point for learning general physics. The types of physics described are simplistic, but you will find it easier going than some of the game physics material. (Although there are simple methods for game physics, many game physics discussions tend to lean toward more complex subjects, such as 3d rigid body dynamics---not a good place to start without some of the fundamentals.) H&R can be purchased, I think, in two volumes to manage the cost. And hopefully you can find a used copy at a local University, or just check it out from the library (since its not a cheap book, said nicely).

There are a couple of game physics books out there now, and for a beginner I have very mixed feelings about both. One is "Game Physics" by David Eberly and one is "Physics for Game Developers" by David Bourg. There''s another, very recent, thread on the latter book here in the forum that should be on the front page of the forum. The thread title is the book title. Mixed reviews that run the gamut of its great to it sucks. I have not used the book so can''t say that the contents are correct or intuitive or wrong or just difficult to comprehend. It is a lightweight compared with the first book. The jury''s still out on the new book, but it probably can''t be considered a beginners book. It is intense and very detailed.

As far as writing physics code, please check out the bottom of the Forum FAQ. I wrote a long description of my advice for how I believe one should get started writing real-time physics programs/games. Stuff you learn from Halliday & Resnick + things you can learn easily from the forums here will easily feed the approach I suggest there (e.g., apply H&R''s projectile motion and linear momentum conservation discussions to a particle system).

There are also a few other articles of interest. Chris Hecker is a major physics enthusiast in the game development community and he contributed a series of articles to Game Developer Magazine a few years ago---an intro to physics for game programmers. The articles are available here:

http://www.d6.com/users/checker/dynamics.htm

Another place with some good articles (for example, the one on pool physics) is the Game Developer Magazine companion website:

Gamasutra

Look under features->programming. There are a few articles on physics. I always point new developers to the pool hall article, which is quite nice and also feeds the approach suggested in the FAQ.


Graham Rhodes
Senior Scientist
Applied Research Associates, Inc.

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I guarantee you I can find you a calculus problem that is also pretty, quite hard! Physics, like calculus, is both shallow and deep. Just because of your experience, somethings, such as the affect of gravity on falling objects, are intuitive and easy to understand. Its easy to get your hands around the math. But, the more you dig into the first principles, the more you get into difficulties.

Graham Rhodes
Senior Scientist
Applied Research Associates, Inc.

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Thanks for all the fantastic information! I really appreciate it!

By the way, I''m not (primarily) learning this for game development purposes. I intend to make a career out of the study of the physical universe.

"Baby-killer is a bad word though. Notice how as soon as you say it, you think negative things." - Peon

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quote:
Original post by Zorodius
I intend to make a career out of the study of the physical universe.


So you''ll have fun learning about the theoretical physics of the multiverse, string theory, quantum foam, and the like. Very deep indeed!



Graham Rhodes
Senior Scientist
Applied Research Associates, Inc.

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Physics is really a terriffic class. I loved it freshman year and i want to take the AP class next year as a senior. Out of all the classes ive taken in high school, physics was definately one of the greatest. Its just so fascinating to learn how the universe works. Im mainly interested in kinematics, however, all the other topics such as thermodynamics, electricity, and especially nulcear engery are also really interesting as well.

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