I am a working software developer with 15+ years of of experience and have always been interested in the field of Theoretical Physics. My dream (as amateur as it might sounds), is to work on the problems such as ToE etc. every day after-work.

Would this require a formal course ? If yes, then where should I look ?

If no, then could I just start working through a stack of books to gain more understanding of the field ? I looked at an answer to the question "Book recommendations" and it seems to have a long list. But it seems to be a just long list without any order or focus. Any help on formulating a structured list of books (or even sub-topics) to would be really helpful and appriciated.


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closed as too broad by Qmechanic Dec 5 '16 at 14:43

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    $\begingroup$ Two video series you could watch, J. Binney Oxford and L. Susskind Stanford both on you tube. Taking your own notes on these is very helpful. $\endgroup$ – user108787 Dec 5 '16 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ This web site by the Nobel Prize winner theoretical physicist Gerard 't Hooft about how to become a good theoretical physicist might help: staff.science.uu.nl/~gadda001/goodtheorist $\endgroup$ – coconut Dec 5 '16 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ You might think about your end goals as to if you should go the formal route or not. I too am a dev that has a very strong interest in theoretical physics. I went the self study route, but quickly outgrew the pop sci books. I then tried some more meatier books and realized my math skills were left behind with my last undergrad. So I decided that formal study was for me. This way I get the structured re-introduction to math that I craved (I'm back up to diff eq) but I also get credit toward credentials for if I decide to switch tracks later on. $\endgroup$ – scrappedcola Dec 5 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ As an experimentalist who has self-studied high-energy theory, I highly recommend starting from a mathematical viewpoint. Attempting to tackle research toward a ToE without a strong background in group theory, representation theory, and differential geometry will prove to be impossible (in my opinion). If you have little mathematical background, I would suggest An Introduction to Tensors and Group Theory for Physicists by Jeevanjee. If you are familiar with this material, then I would jump into my favorite book, The Geometry of Physics by Frankel $\endgroup$ – Jackson Burzynski Dec 5 '16 at 14:53

I self study, I tried a formal course but it did not appeal to me.

Most of what you learn, you teach yourself. That's expected of you on a formal course, also

Two video series you could watch, J. Binney Oxford and L. Susskind Stanford, both on youtube. Taking your own notes based on these is very helpful. The dreams of TOE as a solvable problem have kinda faded a while back. But once you get into T. physics, the learning part is fun

A start list of book is Mary Boas: Math for the Physical Sciences which is free!,

D. Schroeder: An Intro to Thermal Physics.

Vibrations and Waves: A.P. French

Classical Mechanics: Kibble

Halliday and Resnick is a good (big) textbook, which covers' the very basics up to the level of the other books listed here.

The Schaumm series of worked exercises is good on Electromagnetism.

That should keep you going for a year. It is only then you will know which area of physics you think is best for you.

Best of luck with it (and don't expect to see much of your friends for a while, it's a real slog in parts, but keep at it).


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