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I am an engineering student (CSE) in India..But recently I have developed a strong love to physics..I want to learn physics and understand it in deep..I know physics is the search of deep fundamental laws of nature.That means I need to start from first principles and extrapolate from it?How should i learn physics?

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marked as duplicate by David Z Aug 31 '13 at 4:45

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start from learning concepts of class 11 and 12 – Dimensionless Aug 31 '13 at 4:33
As always I refer to 't Hooft's list of subjects to learn more or less in order to become a theoretical physicist. – Michael Brown Sep 13 '13 at 12:37
@MichaelBrown I don't really think people should follow t'Hooft's order to the letter. Schools and universities are fond of keeping a lot historical baggage in the syllabus and piling it on students. The newer topics are more fundamental and generalized. 100 years from now, the list of topics will probably double, are we going to still ask students to study 'classical electrodynamics'? – dj_mummy Sep 13 '13 at 15:34
up vote 14 down vote accepted

First thing - learn stuff from the fundamentals ("in order"). Avoid popular science (so-called "equation-free"/"math-free" books).

Something like:

  1. Kinematics, Newtonian Mechanics, Newtonian Gravity.

  2. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics

  3. Electromagnetism

  4. Special and General Relativity

  5. Quantum Mechanics (OQT, Matrix mechanics, Wave mechanics, Path integrals, Variational)

  6. Relativistic quantum mechanics (KG, Dirac, Weyl equations) and spinors

  7. QFT (a vast topic on its own)

  8. QED, Yang-Mills, QCD, Electroweak, Standard Model, Higgs mechanism

  9. BSM Physics, including QG and unified field theories (e.g. string theory)

Resources and stuff

  • Kinematics, Newtonian Mechanics Jewett & Serway Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics

  • Lagrangian Mechanics, Hamiltonian Mechanics Wikipedia, Wikipedia

  • Newtonian Gravity, Coulomb's Electricity, Maxwell's Electromagnetism, Special Relativity Jewett & Serway Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics

  • General Relativity Ludvigsen General Relativity: A geometric approach. Also focus more on the Hilbertian formulation.

  • Old Quantum Theory 1, 2

  • Heisenberg Matrix Mechanics IIT NPTEL lectures, Wikipedia

  • Schrodinger Wave Mechanics IIT NPTEL lectures

  • Feynman (?) Path Integral Mechanics Feynman, Hibbs (Styer) Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals

  • Klein - Gordon Equation, Dirac Equation, Weyl Equation, Spinors Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Wikipedia

  • Yang - Mills Theory, Quantum Chromodynamics, Electroweak Theory, Higgs Mechanism, Standard Model Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Wikipedia

  • String Theory See this.

I haven't quite mentioned the mathematical details - you'll have to learn it on the way, of course, like I mentioned at the start.

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I didn't downvote. A good list. But I feel wikipedia is not the best place to learn physics. It is an excellent index to keep track of the popular topics in physics but it's instructive value is questionable. The articles there lack consistency and context. – dj_mummy Sep 13 '13 at 11:39
@dj_mummy: I know that. I should probably link to the old id's. Most of the ones I linked to are great according to me. But a lot of them are plain horrible and popular-level /. – centralcharge Sep 13 '13 at 11:53
To bad that there's no focus on some important mathematical topics: calculus, topology, differential geometry (probably introduces in GR), statistics and group theory. The last one might be usefull since engineers usually don't see these ? Another beautiful read might be "Special relativity" by Schwarz and Schwarz, perfectly readable after an introduction to Lagrangian mechanics. A very understandable book :). For old quantum theory I'd recommend "An introduction to quantum mechanics" by Griffiths :). – Dominique Sep 13 '13 at 12:19
@Nick: In my answer, I only covered the physics topics... And the OP doesn't say he's an engineer. – centralcharge Sep 13 '13 at 12:25
@Nick: My point is precisely that I didn't cover the mathematics, not that it's not necessary. Of course, the math is necessary! . – centralcharge Sep 13 '13 at 15:10

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