How fun was Physics for you and how maths based was it? What maths and Physics grade did you get at A Level?
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tjjohnson3
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 30122012 12:40

PythianLegume
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 30122012 12:53
I'm currently in my A2 year, and I would say that Physics is very mathsbased, but at ALevel it's all basic arithmetic/algebra. There isn't any real maths (logs, differential equations, statistics) until degree level, so you have to be very mathematical to cope well in a Physics degree (or so I'v heard). I personally find Physics fairly interesting; you get to learn more about how the world actually works at a fundamental level, although to be honest the very basic maths can get a bit repetitive (rearrange the formula, plug numbers into your calculator).

On The Horizon
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 30122012 12:56
Physics is just applied maths  the mathematical understanding of what "things" are doing at the micro level (and beyond, etc). It's a difficult sort of maths, and at degree level you will be encountering some seriously long proofs / equations.

tjjohnson3
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 30122012 12:58
Thanks a lot! I love Physics, I got a great GCSE score for it (80/80). I'm currently working on my other GCSEs especially maths. I am working at a low A / high B so I am just making sure that I can cope  my Physics teacher is giving me A Level work at the moment and I am finding it relatively easy.
I just don't want maths to ruin something I find interesting in the sense that if I cannot keep up with the maths side, I might soon start to dislike the subject a bit. 
PythianLegume
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 30122012 13:03
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
Thanks a lot! I love Physics, I got a great GCSE score for it (80/80). I'm currently working on my other GCSEs especially maths. I am working at a low A / high B so I am just making sure that I can cope  my Physics teacher is giving me A Level work at the moment and I am finding it relatively easy.
I just don't want maths to ruin something I find interesting in the sense that if I cannot keep up with the maths side, I might soon start to dislike the subject a bit. 
tory88
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 30122012 13:07
A level physics is a big step up, but also contains a lot of interesting information. It does become more maths based, but the derivations use relatively straghtforward maths  if you're on for an A or A* at GCSE you should be fine.
Once you get to university, physics becomes a lot more maths based  the old saying goes 'at university, biology becomes chemistry, chemistry becomes physics, physics becomes maths and maths becomes their own special language that they go sit in a corner and talk in'. Derivations use advanced levels of mathematics and pretty much everything in the maths and further maths Alevels is useful in some respect (including a lot of the 'pure' stuff). The difficulty of courses varies greatly across universities, however, with some basically reteaching A level for the first term and others (like mine...) assuming you know it already.
I got A*s in maths and physics at GCSE, then at A level A*s in maths and further maths and an A in physics. But I know people that did less well and cope fine at my university. I'm currently in my second year at Warwick. 
agostino981
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 30122012 13:11
The mathematics in undergraduate or even postgraduate physics vary greatly in different fields, but AS and A2 physics aren't mathematicsbased at all.

tjjohnson3
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 30122012 13:12
(Original post by tory88)
A level physics is a big step up, but also contains a lot of interesting information. It does become more maths based, but the derivations use relatively straghtforward maths  if you're on for an A or A* at GCSE you should be fine.
Once you get to university, physics becomes a lot more maths based  the old saying goes 'at university, biology becomes chemistry, chemistry becomes physics, physics becomes maths and maths becomes their own special language that they go sit in a corner and talk in'. Derivations use advanced levels of mathematics and pretty much everything in the maths and further maths Alevels is useful in some respect (including a lot of the 'pure' stuff). The difficulty of courses varies greatly across universities, however, with some basically reteaching A level for the first term and others (like mine...) assuming you know it already.
I got A*s in maths and physics at GCSE, then at A level A*s in maths and further maths and an A in physics. But I know people that did less well and cope fine at my university. I'm currently in my second year at Warwick.
My A Levels subs are:
Maths
Physics
Economics
Undecided  probably history, not sure. 
SillyEddy
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 30122012 13:15
I did physics Alevel...
Yes, there is a lot of maths... But it's generally not too bad. No where near as bad as a maths Alevel. You generally just have to convert numbers into the right form and then stick them into a predetermined equation. Sometimes the hardest part is just knowing how to interpret the data and making sure you use the right numbers. At A2 you will have to use logs, but the method is explained to you (and I think it only affects one or two questions).
There is, of course, the theory side to it as well. You'll have the ISA and practical questions in the exam. Provided you have a good memory, this isn't too bad. Just memorise particular experiments beforehand. Depending on your exam board (I did AQA) you'll have to pick a specific module to do at A2. I did astrophysics, which was very interesting!
That said, I got 99% at GCSE and got a C overall for Alevel physics. Don't relax just because it seems to be easy. I think you can get caught out by thinking that it's more basic than it actually is, but the questions are generally along the lines of what I've just mentioned  A lot of equations, but having a solid idea of the theory gives you a mental backup... That way, if you don't quite remember which equation to use, you know through theory what you're looking for! 
agostino981
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 30122012 13:17
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
You must be very intelligent! I seem to have an ability for Physics, probably stemming from my interest. I would love to be able to get A*s in Maths at A Level, I'm getting a tutor soon, aiming as high as I can.
My A Levels subs are:
Maths
Physics
Economics
Undecided  probably history, not sure. 
wrexhamfc
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 30122012 13:21
I'm in A2 and the mathematics involved doesn't often get much more complicated than vectors (trigonometric) and some rearranging of equations. Alevel Maths is pretty useful mainly so you're more accustomed to logarithms and such, but not necessary. Knowledge of calculus is little more than a slight benefit at Alevel.
Lots of universities make offers for Physics conditional on a grade in Alevel Maths though, and many courses require you to study maths modules in your first/second year as well. A good mathematical grounding is very useful at degree level (or so I've been told), especially with more abstract concepts (modern physics, anyone?). 
agostino981
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 30122012 13:25
(Original post by wrexhamfc)
A good mathematical grounding is very useful at degree level (or so I've been told), especially with more abstract concepts (modern physics, anyone?). 
tjjohnson3
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 30122012 13:59
(Original post by SillyEddy)
I did physics Alevel...
That said, I got 99% at GCSE and got a C overall for Alevel physics. Don't relax just because it seems to be easy. I think you can get caught out by thinking that it's more basic than it actually is, but the questions are generally along the lines of what I've just mentioned  A lot of equations, but having a solid idea of the theory gives you a mental backup... That way, if you don't quite remember which equation to use, you know through theory what you're looking for!
(Original post by agostino981)
Relativity and quantum field theory. String theory and loop quantum gravity. These frontiers are more like mathematics than physics. 
agostino981
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 30122012 14:07
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
Yeah, that's why I made the thread. I seem to be good at GCSE and I have read books by Michio Kaku, Brian Cox on Quantum Mechanics and String Theory and nearly every decent video there is on Youtube, not to mention most of the good TV shows in the past few years. Conceptually, I see to have it but it is a question of maths. I have such high expectations set by my teachers, friends and parents in Physics so I always look for a head start.  I started looking at the double slit theory and quantum mechanics in year 9  that kind of a start!
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
I also agree. I think conceptually again, it is quite important. I am already familiar with the principles of these subjects but mathematically, I haven't got a single clue!
For quantum field theory, studying spinors, more tensors, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, quantum mechanics and a bit general relativity will give you a clear concept.
Can't say much about strings and loop quantum, I barely studied that at all.
If you master the mathematics, you can literally master the field in a matter of weeks.Last edited by agostino981; 30122012 at 14:15. 
Julia Iremonger
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 30122012 14:10
i was about to do physics for alevel

SillyEddy
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 30122012 14:10
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
Yeah, that's why I made the thread. I seem to be good at GCSE and I have read books by Michio Kaku, Brian Cox on Quantum Mechanics and String Theory and nearly every decent video there is on Youtube, not to mention most of the good TV shows in the past few years. Conceptually, I see to have it but it is a question of maths. I have such high expectations set by my teachers, friends and parents in Physics so I always look for a head start.  I started looking at the double slit theory and quantum mechanics in year 9  that kind of a start!
Is it possible for you to borrow or buy an AS/A2 book on physics? Have a read through and see how you find the questions. I must admit, it is quite a varied subject  Lessons in mechanics, vectors, electrical theory, quantum physics, astrophysics/medical/etc, nuclear, materials, waves, light, etc.
I think perhaps that's one of the reasons why it can be tricky  that is A LOT of stuff to learn. But it isn't really too much of a stretch. I'm surprised how little content there is in other subjects (such as maths) but equally how much trickier that "little bit" is. The mathematics used in physics really isn't awful though. The hardest bit is rearranging the equations and converting values into the right form. This is usually covered in the first halfterm though.
You certainly seem interested though, so that will probably make all the difference in you being dedicated to learning the stuff properly. 
tory88
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 30122012 16:21
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
You must be very intelligent! I seem to have an ability for Physics, probably stemming from my interest. I would love to be able to get A*s in Maths at A Level, I'm getting a tutor soon, aiming as high as I can.
My A Levels subs are:
Maths
Physics
Economics
Undecided  probably history, not sure. 
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 31122012 19:42
I don't agree that physics is just applied maths. Sure, University level physics is extremely mathematical, but without physical insight and understanding you won't do very well.
That said, the maths/physics balance depends on your choice of topic. Quantum field theory, for example, is extremely mathematical and an understanding of mathematical symmetries is very important for it. On the other hand, something like fluid dynamics or even much of relativity revolves around physical insight, with mathematics being used as a tool to solve problems.
Einstein was excellent at maths but certainly not the best mathematician of his era. Not even close. He was, however, faraway the best physicist  and so there clearly is a difference between the two.Last edited by 3nTr0pY; 31122012 at 19:43. 
boner in jeans
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 31122012 19:44
alevel physics was alright, bpho was more enjoyable personally
not very mathematical at all, you just pretty much need gcse knowledge + logs
OP if you're thinking of doing a physics degree, why aren't you doing further maths? Physics is very mathematically based at university, especially the cool, but weird, stuffLast edited by boner in jeans; 31122012 at 19:49. 
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 31122012 19:46
(Original post by tjjohnson3)
Yeah, that's why I made the thread. I seem to be good at GCSE and I have read books by Michio Kaku, Brian Cox on Quantum Mechanics and String Theory and nearly every decent video there is on Youtube, not to mention most of the good TV shows in the past few years. Conceptually, I see to have it but it is a question of maths. I have such high expectations set by my teachers, friends and parents in Physics so I always look for a head start.  I started looking at the double slit theory and quantum mechanics in year 9  that kind of a start!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOKnW...3074A4CB751B2B
At your age it will probably be extremely tough but it gives you a good idea of what real physics is about.
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