So You Want a Degree in Physics


Even if you don’t, watch anyway. Maybe I’ll convince you. And if not, maybe I’ll impart some important skills or perspectives upon you. A lot of what I say can be applied not only to physics, but to other academic disciplines as well.

Online resources for learning math:

Khan Academy
Dr. Chris Tisdell
MIT Open Courseware

Here are some resources for learning physics (in order of increasing difficulty)

Amateur (little to no math)
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Fearful Symmetry by Anthony Zee

Recruit (some calculus, maybe a DiffEQ here or there)
University Physics by Roger Freedman
Physics (Vol 1 and 2) by Resnick, Halliday, and Krane

Regular (know calculus cold, and have a good handle on DiffEQs)
An Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow
Electricity and Magnetism by Purcell
Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics by Ashley Carter

Hardened (all of the “baby maths” should be second nature to you)
Classical Mechanics by Taylor
Introduction to Electrodynamics by Griffiths
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths
Introduction to Elementary Particles by Griffiths

Veteran (you will not survive)
A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics by Townsend
Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell by Anthony Zee

Studies indicating that studying in pairs is ideal:
Hake, R. R. (1998). Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. American journal of Physics, 66, 64.

Hoellwarth, C., & Moelter, M. J. (2011). The implications of a robust curriculum in introductory mechanics. American Journal of Physics, 79, 540.
Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of engineering education, 93(3), 223-231.

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