Tragically low IQ, want to learn Physics

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Laila-d
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Sometimes your talents and interests just don't align. In secondary school I had to give up on all the science subjects because my spatial awareness and intelligence is absolutely awful. Really, truly awful. I still can barely draw a cube. I decided to embrace the humanities and am about to get an MPhil in Philosophy. I like my subject, but am still annoyed that my dreams of becoming an astronaut or a doctor never really came to anything.

My verbal intelligence is okay, I like and am rather good at logic puzzles and can definitely solve a basic sudoku puzzle, but understanding geometry on a deeper level is probably not going to happen. However, I would really like to know and understand more "science". I would love to have some basic programming skills, to be able to say I know what calculus is and to have a basic understanding of quantum physics (insofar that exists, really).

So, I was wondering if any of you had any recommendations about where to start, what sort of books I can read and (self-study) courses I can take and what branches of physics I could study without being able to do geometry. To make matters worse I have forgotten everything except for primary school arithmetics.
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Christina Tiana
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Maybe start from gcse textbooks? Factual books on science always use technical language as they assume the reader have covered the basics, but since you have forgotten everything perhaps the best thing to do is to go back to gcse physics textbooks, and then Alevel textbooks.
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username1560589
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(Original post by Laila-d)
Sometimes your talents and interests just don't align. In secondary school I had to give up on all the science subjects because my spatial awareness and intelligence is absolutely awful. Really, truly awful. I still can barely draw a cube. I decided to embrace the humanities and am about to get an MPhil in Philosophy. I like my subject, but am still annoyed that my dreams of becoming an astronaut or a doctor never really came to anything.

My verbal intelligence is okay, I like and am rather good at logic puzzles and can definitely solve a basic sudoku puzzle, but understanding geometry on a deeper level is probably not going to happen. However, I would really like to know and understand more "science". I would love to have some basic programming skills, to be able to say I know what calculus is and to have a basic understanding of quantum physics (insofar that exists, really).

So, I was wondering if any of you had any recommendations about where to start, what sort of books I can read and (self-study) courses I can take and what branches of physics I could study without being able to do geometry. To make matters worse I have forgotten everything except for primary school arithmetics.
You've mentioned that you want to study maths, physics and programming, so I'll focus on those. You're a bit unclear of what level you want to learn all of this and what specifically you want to know, so if there's any other details that'll be appreciated.
You also said that you want to learn more science, so I'll try to add suggestions for other sciences.

You'll want to start by relearning GCSE maths and physics. Biology and chemistry too if you're interested.

For the programming, it depends on what you plan do with it and what your interests are. There are lots of different applications of programming and there are many different languages, each suited to different uses.
As a beginner you'll want to learn a high level language. Python is an easy language to learn and is quite multi-purpose so I recommend starting there. You have to pick between Python 2 and Python 3 because the syntax is different in each. Personally I go with Python 3. There are a lot of books online to learn Python.

For physics, there are several routes. There are lots of books written on physics for the general public that talk about the importance of some theories (eg. quantum physics, string theory, quantum gravity or special and general relativity). You will gain a qualitative understanding of physics from these, but not a quantitative understanding and won't know much detail of the theories.
Other than that there is AS physics. You can get a textbook and AS physics covers mechanics, then electricity, then quantum physics. This is very basic and you can then study A2 if you like. This covers more mechanics, then nuclear physics, then medical physics (imaging etc.), then cosmology. The quantum physics covered at A-level is basic and there is extremely little relativity covered at all, so you may still want more knowledge.
There are also a lot of lectures online that you can watch to learn more physics.

For the maths, you seem to want to study pure maths (you mentioned calculus), but are also interested in physics, so should study some mechanics as well.
For the pure maths, you probably want to study C1 and C2 from AS maths. I feel that these modules don't fully explain calculus, so I suggest that you also take a look at differentiation from first principles, which is normally covered in FP1 in AS further maths. There's little geometry in A-level maths. If you want you can then study C3-4.
So get a C1-2 textbook and study each chapter.
Mechanics can be studied from a mathematical viewpoint as in mechanics modules of A-level maths (start with M1 and see how far you get). Mechanics is also covered in A-level physics, from a slightly different perspective (it requires less maths knowledge such as calculus and differential equations). You can study mechanics from the maths side, from the physics side or both. You mostly cover the same content either way.
So either get an M1 textbook or an AS physics textbook and work through the mechanics chapters or get both textbooks. If you finish these, there's more mechanics covered in A2 physics and the maths mechanics modules go up to M5, which is very advanced.

I think that chemistry is difficult to self-study past GCSE (at least I think it would be boring without a teacher).

Biology can be self-studied with an A-level textbook, but beware there is huge amounts of content to understand and remember.

Source: Studied A-level maths, Studying A-level further maths, biology, chemistry and physics and have self-studied four programming languages including Python.
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German123
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Fortunately, some people have been blessed with other talents and skills which appear to be non mathematical.


You are not the only one for sure.

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Laila-d
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(Original post by German123)
Fortunately, some people have been blessed with other talents and skills which appear to be non mathematical.


You are not the only one for sure.

True.

Morgan8002, thank you for your really elaborate and helpful response, and giving me a bit more insight in what is covered in science A levels. I have some qualitative understanding of physics having studied philosophy of science and those early Greek guys, but without any mathematical background I cannot really understand the theory behind any of these discoveries. That's why I'm interested in learning mathematics (and hopefully I can gloss over geometry a bit there). I would also like to know more about chemistry. The basics of biology are fairly accessible without maths so I am less worried about that. So wanting to learn maths is more a means to an end. Though I do want to see how far I can go with maths if I ignore geometry. My marks were rather extreme back in secondary school: always scored around a D (or lower) for geometry and an A for algebra.

I think I do need to go back all the way to GCSE level. Any books or learning resources anyone can recommend specifically?
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German123
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(Original post by Laila-d)
True.

Morgan8002, thank you for your really elaborate and helpful response, and giving me a bit more insight in what is covered in science A levels. I have some qualitative understanding of physics having studied philosophy of science and those early Greek guys, but without any mathematical background I cannot really understand the theory behind any of these discoveries. That's why I'm interested in learning mathematics (and hopefully I can gloss over geometry a bit there). I would also like to know more about chemistry. The basics of biology are fairly accessible without maths so I am less worried about that. So wanting to learn maths is more a means to an end. Though I do want to see how far I can go with maths if I ignore geometry. My marks were rather extreme back in secondary school: always scored around a D (or lower) for geometry and an A for algebra.


I think I do need to go back all the way to GCSE level. Any books or learning resources anyone can recommend specifically?
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