So, You Wanna do Physics?

Before saying anything, let me just say, good choice!

In this day and age people really don’t have an excuse for not learning what they are passionate about. With access to the internet being more common than access to sanitation, I think we all should have some self respect and not mindlessly consume content that the algorithm bestows upon us, but instead seek out material that genuinely interests us. I will be going over how you can start learning physics here, but you can teach yourself anything! Literally, the sky is the limit. I’m sure your dream of learning how to put the in the USB the right way on the first try is just a click away!

However fascinating and breathtaking you might find physics, the bad news (or good news depending on who you are) is that you need to learn mathematics, dubbed the language of the universe, and for good reason too. You don’t need any fancy maths though, just a strong foundation of linear algebra and calculus is all you need for the most part. There are no better resources for learning mathematics online than youtube, Khanacademy and MIT OpenCourseWare. On youtube, you can see 3Blue1Brown’s series on linear algebra and calculus and gain an over powered intuition in both fields. For practice problems and getting your hands dirty, the best place is Khanacademy, Sal Khan’s giant armada of questions in mathematics is second to none. Gilbert Strang’s Introduction to Linear Algebra is an amazing supplement to 3Blue1Brown and Khanacademy. Besides, the best way to master something is to learn it from as many different perspectives as you can. I am not sending you on a mathematical excursion though (I’m not that cruel), you can certainly do some light reading on the side, any of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s or John Gribbin’s books are great for this, but in my opinion what’s even better is a little book called “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman.” If you haven’t heard of Feynman, I truly envy you; be prepared to see him a whole lot more often while you’re rediscovering the universe.

This mathematical interlude should last no more than two months, three if you really push it. But the effort will not be wasted. After learning linear algebra and calculus you’d be ready to take on topics as diverse as the entirety of classical mechanics, most of quantum mechanics, special relativity, and for what it’s worth, all of chemistry, biology and computer science. Remember, the stronger your foundations, the more easily you’ll be able to learn new things. So don’t cheap out, take your time, and lay down some solid groundwork.

Now that you have some solid mathematics in your arsenal, we can really start learning physics from non popular science books. The first thing I would recommend to yo before you go off exploring is to master classical mechanics. There is an amazing online lecture series by Leonard Susskind available on Youtube. There is also a book to go along with the lectures called “Classical Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum.” Another great (text)book to learn classical mechanics from is the first two volume of the Feynman Lectures of physics. After mastering the basics of classical mechanics and the maths prerequisites the world really is your oyster. You can see the other books on the Theoretical Minimum series, the Feynman Lectures and learn quantum mechanics, or take up online courses to go further in depth into classical mechanics and go on to learn special relativity, teach yourself quantum computing and if you know python, how to program a quantum computer with Qiskit.

There are some great Youtube channels to learn physics from as well. Channels like:

PBS Space Time: https://www.youtube.com/c/pbsspacetime/featured

Looking Glass Universe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFk__1iexL3T5gvGcMpeHNA

Veratasium: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHnyfMqiRRG1u-2MsSQLbXA

Vsause: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nSFpj9HTCZ5t-N3Rm3-HA

CrashCourse: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q

ElectroBOOM: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0-OtVpF0wOKEqT2Z1HEtA

Real Engineering: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR1IuLEqb6UEA_zQ81kwXfg

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRoyalInstitution

It does not matter whether you’re 12 or 71, as long as you have that drive, you’ll be able to finish all these things in no time and along the way fall in love with physics over and over again.

Originally published at http://shortdotcircuit.wordpress.com on February 6, 2021.