I'm learning physics from Halliday Resnik Krane (I'm in high school senior year but my school has neither good lab or teacher). Currently I'm learning about electromagnetism (from volume 2).

When I was reading classical mechanics (from volume 1), then I had no problem building intuition regarding them because they're regarding the things which I interact in everyday life. But now there's the things like capacitors and resistors and I'm having heavy difficulty building intuition regarding them because I never have seen a capacitor or a resistor! (and there's no good high school/college with lab around my area). For example, while there's the Drude model and explanation regarding why wires heat up when current passes through them, I am finding it counterintuitive. Or I don't understand why if you join capacitor to a battery with potential difference $\Delta V$, why would the potential between the two plates of the capacitor will also be $\Delta V$ etc...

What should I do to build intuition regarding them ?

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    $\begingroup$ If you don't have access to capacitors and resistors to play around with, that's unfortunate, but you can at least find demonstrations of experiments on YouTube. When I read Feynman's books it seemed that the time he spent playing around with electronics as a kid was an important part of his development. In the old days they used to make electric sets and chemistry sets for kids to play with and light up light bulbs and make radios; maybe these still exist and you could order one. $\endgroup$ – littleO Jun 30 '18 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ Here's an example of an educational electric kit sold on Amazon. Maybe something like that would be useful. I also saw this. $\endgroup$ – littleO Jun 30 '18 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ This appears to be a "how do I study" type question which is essentially asking for opinions, which is considered off-topic. This may be appropriate to ask in Physics Chat. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jul 2 '18 at 10:17

One thing that is important to understand as a physicist is that there will always be problems that are just not possible to study experimentally. Instead, you want to focus on grasping the ideas behind the basics, either through experiments or theory and then apply these concepts to more complicated scenarios. Additionally, I find that sometimes when you are stuck with a concept, looking for the purely mathematical view of it and then connecting the math to the physics of the system can help. Though you want to make sure you are still learning the physics and not just the math.

My suggestion should you have no way of performing experiments is to try to cover the topic from diverse sources. Don't just look at one book but look at several, maybe even research papers. By putting together multiple sources, you will get a better picture. Start with the basics, ask yourself questions and answer them and work up to the complicated idea.

Keep an open mind, and remember that it is not bad to feel something is counterintuitive, this is not that uncommon in physics. Instead, start building a mindset for understanding why the system behaves as it does. If you can figure out the source/reason why you find it counterintuitive, you can possibly apply this to future problems.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer ! Can you please give a concrete example of what to do while learning something then ? (For example, now I'm facing difficulty with capacitors. What should I do ? Read Feynman ? Griffiths ? What should I do to start building a mindset for understanding how capacitors behaves as it does ?) $\endgroup$ – katana_0 Jun 30 '18 at 16:24

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