Should I learn calculus before physics
How do you start learning physics yourself? [closed]
The problem of study time affects everyone, physics is intimidating because to learn it one has to recapitulate history, there is no underlying axiomatic system from which to infer. A self-paced guide is available on 't Hooft's website, which has been compiled for this purpose. It should get you started and I don't think I can get any better at 't Hooft.
But if you know your way around math and programming, there is an easy way to study the field - just go through the famous problems yourself. You can simulate the Ising model in a very short time:
Create a 2D bitmap with a value of 0 or 1. Pick a bit at random and calculate the energy it feels with its neighbors by counting the number of neighbors that have a different bit value. The energy is that number.
Now flip the bit and keep the mirrored value as the energy drops. When the energy increases, with a probability e-βΔE hold it where you are free to change β. If you do this very often, you will get an equilibrium configuration. Then you can draw a picture of what it looks like.
As you change β the phase transition is displayed. The Ising model will either be mostly zeros or mostly ones. Studying this transition and the problems associated with it is a good introduction to the most modern of physics (after 1940). It contains the germ of everything but string theory.
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