Start Learning Physics

Physics is the most interesting subject in the world because it is about how the world works.

At its core, Physics is the study of matter, motion, energy, and force. The main objective of Physics is to understand the laws of the universe and understand everything in it. Physics is concerned with every aspect of Universe. It is a scientific study that governs the physical world and natural phenomenon around us. It deals with matter and its relation to energy.

Everything from the rainbow to gravity, to the cause of a sunset or sunrise, to the great question of ‘why is the sky blue’, is answered by Physics.

There are many branches of Physics – the main ones are:

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Relativity

Physics uses the scientific method to reveal the principles that govern light and matter and as well to discover the implications of those laws. Physics aims to describe the function of everything that is present around us. Everything around us can be very accurately described by the laws of physics. Physics is also about the study of nature and forces which are measured by the physical quantities.

Mathematics is the language of Physics

Most people may imagine that the engineering professions use a lot of maths but in reality Physics requires a lot greater, deeper and more broader grasp of Maths.

But you can learn and understand a lot of the fundamental concepts of Physics without the Maths.

It just makes it a lot harder to apply these concepts in any practical manner without the commensurate mathematical skills.

A typical introductory list of Physics Topics is below:

  • One-dimensional motion
  • Two-dimensional motion
  • Forces and Newton’s laws of motion
  • Centripetal force and gravitation
  • Work and energy
  • Impacts and linear momentum
  • Torque and angular momentum
  • Oscillations and mechanical waves
  • Fluids
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electric charge, field, and potential
  • Circuits
  • Magnetic forces, magnetic fields, and Faraday’s law
  • Electromagnetic waves and interference
  • Geometric optics
  • Special relativity
  • Quantum Physics
  • Discoveries and projects
  • Cosmology and astronomy

This list is possibly a little too comprehensive for any students not yet in Year 11/12, but it does offer a good starting point.

There is clearly a great deal to learn, so the sooner you start the better.

Unfortunately though your level of maths may hold you back to some degree. Even in University Physics classes we often found that the Physics lecturers needed to teach us the maths involved before we had covered it in the same level maths courses (a typical undergraduate Physics degree will require that you essentially do a maths degree alongside it – for example when I did my first Physics degree after the first year’s four units of Physics, Chemistry, Pure and Applied Maths, every subsequent year involved at least a couple of maths units.

So if you wish to start learning Physics before Senior High School where it is a separate subject and not part of a General Science course, I think it would be best to start with an introduction to Classical Mechanics and Light/Optics. Some study of Cosmology and Astronomy is always fun as well though.

One very helpful and fun way to start is via the coding options in some of Tynker’s Physics Units. More on these  in a blog post to come.

What can I do with a degree in Physics? – See my alma mater, Canterbury University’s answer

Some Beginning and Recommended Resources:

Teaching Websites:

MIT Classical Mechanics Open Course:


Conceptual Physics by Paul G Hewitt – a (USA) High School Physics Program (with very little Maths!). This book covers a lot of the same foundations as the old QCE textbook below, but just does not have the same depth of treatment due to the lack of Mathematics.

Fundamentals of Senior Physics by Parham & Webber – former QCE Year 11 & 12 Physics Text – still an excellent reference, even for lower grades

Problems in Physics By: Ernest GardinerBrian McKittrick

  • this is, imo, the best book of Physics questions I have ever used in my teaching. It is aimed at Senior High School Physics students, but it would still be a great resource for Junior High students.
  • The cost online is way too high – there should be plenty of 2nd hand copies around though as it was a class text for all the Physics classes I taught and I imagine for many other schools as well.


Basic Physics: A Self-Teaching Guide 2nd Edition by Karl F. Kuhn

Fundamentals of Physics by Jearl Walker

The Return of the God Hypothesis by Stephen Meyer

More to come …

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