Calculus, no problem. Physics...ehh maybe not

<p>Sounds like you have the same problem that countless people have with their first exposure to physics. For most people, the method of problem solving involved is completely foreign at first, but most pick it up with practice. Most people also understand physics a lot better once they take later courses and the physics gets applied.</p>

<p>oooooohhhhhh! I get it! Well, some of it. It's nothing a few hours...days of study wouldn't fix. It's making a lot more sense now. :)</p>

<p>Get what exactly?</p>

<p>Basically, the relationship between velocity, acceleration, position etc, and how to work with those quantities as vectors. Calculus taught me that velocity is the derivitive of position and all that jazz. My block was coming from not being able to work with those quantities as vectors. Granted, this is just the first week. I'm sure it gets worse.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I'm sure it gets worse.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>On the contrary, if the x-axis was time and the y-axis was difficulty of new physics material, the physics course could be modeled by a downwards parabola. Sure, physics may appear to get harder as the weeks pass by, but it will eventually reach a peak and its difficulty will start going downwards.</p>

<p>A lot of laws and derivations will be seen analogous to other basic laws (that is, for the more fundamental concepts anyway).</p>

<p>I really believe that if I can get very proficient with working with quantities as vectors, and really understand the relationship between the different vectors, the rest will be down hill. </p>

<p>Sagert I like what your saying:)</p>

<p>I'm taking Calculus 2 and Physics over the summer. It's Mechanics but I'm sure it has Classical Physics in the first sections. I have a one month break between now and then. I was thinking, use MIT OCW to learn the first 2 chapters in the month break and refine my Calculus 1. What do you guys think? I'm already understanding integrating by parts.</p>

<p>I know some here don't believe in "priming" yourself like that, but I for one think it's a great idea. Plus, Walter Lewin on OCW is pretty good too. All I can say is vectors vectors vectors!</p>

<p>Everyone understands physics better with Walter Lewin.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Everyone understands physics better with Walter Lewin.

[/quote]

How dare you!!</p>

<p>@Celeritas: Actually, ". . . you don't know physics unless you can do physics." (Freedman) </p>

<p>In order to understand physics better you have to <em>keep</em> solving problems. Over and over again. :)</p>

<p>Good tips:

[quote]
JohnAdams12:
put the Physics book in your hands</p>

<p>take a seat</p>

<p>begin reading the chapters that you don't understand...slowly</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it, read it again...slowly</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it...read it again...slowly....word by word, line by line, senence by sentence...slowly</p>

<p>take your time</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it, go to your Physics teacher and ask questions about what you don't understand....</p>

<p>then go home, get the book and sit down</p>

<p>read the chapters that you dont understand....slowly</p>

<p>continue until you understand the material

[/quote]

[quote]
Nukewarm:
If something seems confusing, go somewhere else for the info. Don't just try harder/longer.

[/quote]

[quote]
boneh3ad:
For most people, the method of problem solving involved is completely foreign at first, but most pick it up with practice.<a href="As%20is%20true%20with%20almost%20anything%20and%20everything," title="practice makes perfect.">/quote</a></p>

<p>Bad tip:

[quote]
Treetopleaf:
Well, you could go to the library and pick up a non-calculus based i.e. a high school physics text book.

[/quote]

Horrible idea, don't ever bother trying to study for physics with a high school academic physics textbook (if you indeed meant particularly the academic physics textbooks). If you need practice and help understanding the concepts, just review for AP Physics B (not C) - this will help you better than a high school textbook.</p>

<p>HEYY, WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA HERE, HUH ENGINEERHEAD?</p>

<p>You didn't even quote me. :/</p>

<p>I suck at problem solving, and I probably scored a 2 on the Physics C exam. Didn't help that my teacher just couldn't teach. Also impeding me was my lack of experience with calculus, but not too much as it was mostly simple calculus. Beginning of the year, I actually tried to understand what the hell was going on, but by second semester, I just kinda gave up.</p>

<p>My situation is kinda like the OP's, only I gave up halfway through the year. I'd like to major in engineering. Am I doomed? How the hell do you get physics? It seems like some people just pick it up (as in how to solve the problems and whatnot). Others, like me, struggle. Seeing the geniuses just "pick it up" can be pretty discouraging.</p>

<p>I'm in the same boat. Late twenties, taking Calc. II and General Physics I, and working forty hours a week. Thank God I took Physics 100 last quarter so concepts like momentum and displacement weren't totally new to me (though they are being taught in a vector-intensive way I wasn't at all prepared for, like you).</p>

<p>I'm a bit odd, I find classical mechanics to be unintuitive and not always easy to grasp (It's taken me days of study and thought to get a half-way decent grip on what causes gyroscropic precession), while I never had a problem understanding what I've read about quantum physics, relativity, etc., although I haven't yet studied them in a classroom setting with all the scary vectors and stuff. Right now I'm at a high B or an A in physics (I missed a few assignments due to being sick) but it's taken all I have to get this far. I've never studied like this in my life, because until now I've never needed to (plus working full-time really eats at my study time and mental energy and homework time), I was one of those people who could do well in high school without studying, but that's cuz high school is a joke.</p>

<p>Studying texts beyond my textbook has helped. We have the Halliday book, 8th edition, and I don't like it. Too heavy on mathematical explanations, too light on physical explanations (i.e. "this happens because the math says so"), my physics 100 book did a better job of explaining many topics conceptually, and it didn't even have any trig. Web sites, dummies books, etc.</p>

<p>TS, maybe this will help you visualize gyroscopes much better. This is a very easy way to look at gyroscopes: HowStuffWorks</a> "How Gyroscopes Work"</p>

<p>The link above explains the phenomenon with Newton's Laws. Another very useful way to imagine how they work is to consider angular momentum and torque, where torque depends on the change in angular momentum. This second way focuses more on mathematical explanations - if you are interested in this method let me know, I can show you the relative equations and how they interpret into a diagram of a gyroscope (many people find this way more confusing).</p>

<p>EngineerHead, regarding study sources, everybody is different. Some people learn better using one approach, some another. By suggesting that OP use a HS text for reference, I'm suggesting that they take a look at the same material w/o the calculus to see if that way of explaining mechanics helps transition to the calculus based approach. Most people take HS physics before calculus-based physics. OP skipped that step and may need a gentler introduction.</p>

<p>Generally, when people have trouble with material in a class, I'm in favor of using alternative sources to see if someone else explained the subject in a way more appropriate for that individual. Sticking with one book, one teacher may not be enough for some people if the teaching style is not a good match for their abilities.</p>

<p>I'm all for an alternative source of information, I understand this - did I not quote someone saying this very same thing, and marked it as a good tip? An AP Physics B prep book would be a much better alternative source for this preparatory information. Simply because a HS academic physics textbook is an alternative source doesn't make it a good one. The reason I pointed this out as being a bad choice is because of the level of depth that an academic physics textbook presents its information. It is not about the teaching style or different source or different book, it is about the fact that the information covered by a HS physics textbook is nowhere near satisfactory.</p>

<p>Most AP courses use college level textbooks.</p>