Tag Archives: physics

What I find interesting: physics

Last week I talked about not learning music being a regret of mine. The other regret I have is not learning physics. I dabble in it, but it’s a struggle.

If you are interested in learning physics, read this piece from my friend Susan. I got to know her because of it: So You Want to Learn Physics… — Susan Fowler. She now has a new version of it at a new site! You can find it here.

Other friends I have who do know physics tell me the thing to learn is Lagrangian mechanics. Here’s a good guide to it: Lagrangian Mechanics For Dummies: An Intuitive Introduction – Profound Physics

Another way to learn physics is via Youtube. This guy has an amazing YouTube channel on Physics: DrPhysicsA – YouTube Worthwhile.

Of course you can also read text books on it. I think Dover Books are among the best for this. For example, this: Classical Mechanics: 2nd Edition: Corben, H.C., Stehle, Philip: 9780486680637: Gateway – Amazon.ca

Still another way is via experimentation. For example:  build your own particle detector | symmetry magazine

(Speaking of experimentation, here’s a great piece on how the LIGO Observatory detects gravitational waves)

A problem I have always had with physics is how did physics get to where it got to, and why are certain areas more prominent than others. To better understand that, it’s good to look backwards at how physics was done in previous time. For example, this article on Ole Roemer: Ole Roemer Profile: First to Measure the Speed of Light | AMNH. We all know light has a specific speed but back then some thought light was instantaneous. But Roemer came up with a method to show light had an actual speed and it could be measured. Likewise, here is the great physicist James Maxwell with a book on how scientists developed their idea of what heat is and how it works: Theory of Heat – James Clerk Maxwell – Google Books.

Finally, a good way to learn physics is read good articles on it. Here’s a collection of some:

(Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash)


How to learn physics, via Susan Fowler

Susan is famous now (for good reason!), but before she was famous, she wrote this excellent blog post:  If Susan Can Learn Physics, So Can You — Susan Fowler.

I came across it because I was trying to learn physics again. (I started off taking physics ages ago but dropped it because, well, long story, but I ended up in Computer Science and Mathematics and went on to have a career at IBM so it worked out.) I followed a lot of Susan’s advice, and while I am not good at physics yet, I highly recommend this to anyone serious about it. (Just stay away from programs that want to weed out most of the class because they want small class sizes.)

(Image via Susan’s blog)

A fine appreciation for Stephen Hawking can be found…

… here: Stephen Hawking Is Still Underrated – The Atlantic. 

I like this piece because it takes you into his science and what makes his work great without having you be an expert in the field yourself. You might still struggle with it, but it is a worthwhile struggle.

Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking. You may be gone, but the work you did lives on and will lead to more great work being done by other scientists that come after you.

All three volumes of the Feynman Lectures on Physics online

Yes, it’s true. The great Feynman Lectures on Physics are now online. Volumes one, two and three, cover everything from mechanics to quantum mechanics. A must for anyone interested in physics.

I’d also recommend it to anyone looking to write pieces on how to explain something technical.