dancinjenn

I'm ready for my close up
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2004
673
2
MI
Visit site
Status
Medical Student
duh...that's why the "SIC" is in "phySICs"
 

gujuDoc

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2004
13,874
36
Status
Medical Student, Resident [Any Field]
What helped me in understanding physics is understanding the calculus behind why certain formulas are what they are. Try to think about it conceptually and try to figure out where the formulas are integrated or derived from and it will make your life a lot easier.
 

drguy22

1K Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2004
1,927
1
34
www.mdapplicants.com
Status
Attending Physician
i tried to UNDERSTAND physics when i took the MCAT for the first time last april...but it didnt work so well..i got a 7 and then it affected my performance on the rest of the sections (7,9,9). But then i decided that i would just memorize the forumlas and rules, etc and i ended up with a 10, 10 ,10:)...so just memorize and you guys should do fine.....good luck!
 

booboo

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2004
64
0
SoCal
Status
physics just requires time and alot of practice..i am sure if i was taking only physics per quarter, i am sure i can get a A.haha.. its just hard taking physics with chem and bio, well for me it is.
 

tank you

2K Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2004
2,293
1
36
california
www.last.fm
Status
drguy22 said:
i tried to UNDERSTAND physics when i took the MCAT for the first time last april...but it didnt work so well..i got a 7 and then it affected my performance on the rest of the sections (7,9,9). But then i decided that i would just memorize the forumlas and rules, etc and i ended up with a 10, 10 ,10:)...so just memorize and you guys should do fine.....good luck!
are u sure its okay just to memorize the formulas? and what do u mean by rules?
 
OP
J

juniper456

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2004
209
0
Status
gujuDoc said:
What helped me in understanding physics is understanding the calculus behind why certain formulas are what they are. Try to think about it conceptually and try to figure out where the formulas are integrated or derived from and it will make your life a lot easier.
Whoa there, buddy. if there's anything i hate more than physics, it's calculus. . .
 

MMMM

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 8, 2005
12
0
Status
I am taking physics next semester and I am not sure if I should take the harder physics which is more calculus based which most engineering students take or the normal one that most the pre meds take. My cousin took the calc based and said it helped him out a lot. Any advice?
 

JETER

Super Educated, I'm Smarter than Spock
15+ Year Member
Jun 19, 2004
131
13
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
MMMM said:
I am taking physics next semester and I am not sure if I should take the harder physics which is more calculus based which most engineering students take or the normal one that most the pre meds take. My cousin took the calc based and said it helped him out a lot. Any advice?
I have TA'd and tutored physics for several years now, and my advice is to take the Calc based physics. When a student approaches me with a conceptual difficulty in a physics subject (for the non-calc based year), I always start with the calculus basics, and show how the math is applied to the physical problem. Even though they have not taken calc, they can understand the basics you need for this. Calculus is the backbone of physics; if you take the class without it, you are just paying to have someone tell you what eqns to memorize. However, the calc based course will teach you how to understand what is going on. With this background, you can easily adapt to most any mechanical or E&M situation which might appear on the MCAT.

However, as I am sure you know, calculus is not required or needed for the MCAT. It just helps.
 
OP
J

juniper456

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2004
209
0
Status
MMMM said:
I am taking physics next semester and I am not sure if I should take the harder physics which is more calculus based which most engineering students take or the normal one that most the pre meds take. My cousin took the calc based and said it helped him out a lot. Any advice?
if you are inclined toward masochism, calculus-based should be just your thing.
 

HistoRocks

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2004
175
0
Status
JETER said:
I have TA'd and tutored physics for several years now, and my advice is to take the Calc based physics. When a student approaches me with a conceptual difficulty in a physics subject (for the non-calc based year), I always start with the calculus basics, and show how the math is applied to the physical problem. Even though they have not taken calc, they can understand the basics you need for this. Calculus is the backbone of physics; if you take the class without it, you are just paying to have someone tell you what eqns to memorize. However, the calc based course will teach you how to understand what is going on. With this background, you can easily adapt to most any mechanical or E&M situation which might appear on the MCAT.

However, as I am sure you know, calculus is not required or needed for the MCAT. It just helps.

Not sure how much calculus helps with physics. Just coz' u can differentiate & integrate with your eyes close does not mean you'll be acing a physics test. Especially when you consider that one can also make it through Calculus I, via "plugging and chugging" numbers. Seriously, who remembers the derivation of the Mean-Value Theorem or Power Rule after taking Calc I? If you want to derive formulas in physics, you don't need necessarily need advanced math, not for the general case at least, where you are assuming certain variables to remain constant. Plus, the conceptual nature of the problem does not usually call for any derivation to begin with. Figuring out what equation to use or how to derive an equation is not what bugs most ppl in physics. It usually involves translating the words into the right "equations." I put quotations there because its essential that you also know how to manipulate the equation, a very basic skill.
 

gujuDoc

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2004
13,874
36
Status
Medical Student, Resident [Any Field]
juniper456 said:
Whoa there, buddy. if there's anything i hate more than physics, it's calculus. . .

Yah I used to feel that way, until I saw how everything pieced together. Now it has made my life soooooooo much easier in understanding the physics portion because I can see the relationships as they tie to one another.

Unfortunately there are a lot of things we hate, but unless we understand the concepts it may come back to haunt us on the MCAT.
 

gujuDoc

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2004
13,874
36
Status
Medical Student, Resident [Any Field]
HistoRocks said:
Not sure how much calculus helps with physics. Just coz' u can differentiate & integrate with your eyes close does not mean you'll be acing a physics test. Especially when you consider that one can also make it through Calculus I, via "plugging and chugging" numbers. Seriously, who remembers the derivation of the Mean-Value Theorem or Power Rule after taking Calc I? If you want to derive formulas in physics, you don't need necessarily need advanced math, not for the general case at least, where you are assuming certain variables to remain constant. Plus, the conceptual nature of the problem does not usually call for any derivation to begin with. Figuring out what equation to use or how to derive an equation is not what bugs most ppl in physics. It usually involves translating the words into the right "equations." I put quotations there because its essential that you also know how to manipulate the equation, a very basic skill.

You do make a good point there......but in terms of the math I see a lot of application in understanding calc cuz it makes more sense as to why formulas such as work = Fx are just that and how that relates to the way they came up with different potential energy formulas, etc.

However, you are right that the concepts and word related issues are much more important than math in general. Although, that also is subjective and depends on form of the test.
 

HistoRocks

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2004
175
0
Status
gujuDoc said:
You do make a good point there......but in terms of the math I see a lot of application in understanding calc cuz it makes more sense as to why formulas such as work = Fx are just that and how that relates to the way they came up with different potential energy formulas, etc.

However, you are right that the concepts and word related issues are much more important than math in general. Although, that also is subjective and depends on form of the test.
I'm still not sure exactly how Calculus helps. Unless you're talking about variables such as acceleration that don't remain constant. To use your example, W = Fs. Yes, you could derive a specific integral formula that applies for all cases. But can't you get just as good an understanding by simply noting that the work is in the direction of the displacment? Isn't that all that matters, at the end of the day... what does varying the force achieve, unless you plan to be an engineer? And W = Fs is the most general form... assuming you are talking about mechanical energy, the work ends up being equal to the change in kinetic energy, which you can derive just by changing the "a" to an equivalent velocity/time form, derived from basic kinematics, something u can do in ur head! Not sure if that specific derivation is even possible with calculus!
 

gujuDoc

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2004
13,874
36
Status
Medical Student, Resident [Any Field]
HistoRocks said:
I'm still not sure exactly how Calculus helps. Unless you're talking about variables such as acceleration that don't remain constant. To use your example, W = Fs. Yes, you could derive a specific integral formula that applies for all cases. But can't you get just as good an understanding by simply noting that the work is in the direction of the displacment? Isn't that all that matters, at the end of the day... what does varying the force achieve, unless you plan to be an engineer? And W = Fs is the most general form... assuming you are talking about mechanical energy, the work ends up being equal to the change in kinetic energy, which you can derive just by changing the "a" to an equivalent velocity/time form, derived from basic kinematics, something u can do in ur head! Not sure if that specific derivation is even possible with calculus!

I think you are misunderstanding me. Let me try to reexplain. Yes you are correct in what you are saying.

What I meant is for instance our teacher tells us to look at dimensional analysis.

But dimensional analysis does not account for why say velocity = 1/2at^2 rather than at^2.

And little things like that make more sense if you understand that the reason it is 1/2at^2 comes from the calculus background and integration.

Hope that clarifies.

However, you are correct, that it is important to understand conceptual rules such as the rules for waves, or what happens to velocity if frequency is constant but wavelenth increases/decreases.

Things like that are especially important. Understanding what happens to variables is probably the biggest thing more than math, because while some forms have a lot of math, many want to know things like how much something increases or decreases.


Oh one more thing.......

In terms of MCAT

Most tests give the needed formulas, but it is still good to know them so if you need them then you will know how to apply them.
 

drguy22

1K Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2004
1,927
1
34
www.mdapplicants.com
Status
Attending Physician
jtank said:
are u sure its okay just to memorize the formulas? and what do u mean by rules?
rules..like what wavelength corresponds with wat colors (UV, red , violet, infrared) and definition of lots of things like resistance, conductance, all the linear motion formulas, etc etc. JUST MEMORIZE:)
 

HistoRocks

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2004
175
0
Status
gujuDoc said:
I think you are misunderstanding me. Let me try to reexplain. Yes you are correct in what you are saying.

What I meant is for instance our teacher tells us to look at dimensional analysis.

But dimensional analysis does not account for why say velocity = 1/2at^2 rather than at^2.

However, you are correct, that it is important to understand conceptual rules such as the rules for waves, or what happens to velocity if frequency is constant but wavelenth increases/decreases.

And little things like that make more sense if you understand that the reason it is 1/2at^2 comes from the calculus background and integration.

Things like that are especially important. Understanding what happens to variables is probably the biggest thing more than math, because while some forms have a lot of math, many want to know things like how much something increases or decreases.

Oh one more thing.......

In terms of MCAT

Most tests give the needed formulas, but it is still good to know them so if you need them then you will know how to apply them
Of course dimensional analysis cannot be used to derive a formula. Dimensional analysis is only good for converting from one type of unit to another.

Oh boy. I honestly don't think you should take a 14 week class to find out why its 1/2at^2 instead of at^2... unless of course you plan to get a Ph.D in that area. :laugh: That has to be the most insignificant detail in all of science... I DO hope no one at TPR asked you to be able to derive that formula either!

Yeah, thats what physics gets down to, concepts.

Knowing all the kinematics equations by heart is a must! And of course being able to change the formula/equation around.

Its best to have as many of the formulas memorized... it does save you time at the end of the day. If you do enough physics problems, over a period of 1 yr, believe me... you won't forget the formulas for a very long time.
 

gujuDoc

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2004
13,874
36
Status
Medical Student, Resident [Any Field]
HistoRocks said:
Of course dimensional analysis cannot be used to derive a formula. Dimensional analysis is only good for converting from one type of unit to another.

Oh boy. I honestly don't think you should take a 14 week class to find out why its 1/2at^2 instead of at^2... unless of course you plan to get a Ph.D in that area. :laugh: That has to be the most insignificant detail in all of science... I DO hope no one at TPR asked you to be able to derive that formula either!

Yeah, thats what physics gets down to, concepts.

Knowing all the kinematics equations by heart is a must! And of course being able to change the formula/equation around.

Its best to have as many of the formulas memorized... it does save you time at the end of the day. If you do enough physics problems, over a period of 1 yr, believe me... you won't forget the formulas for a very long time.



You are totally misconstruing my point.

That was just an example of how calculus can have applications. I was just pointing out that most premeds don't understand physics a lot of time because they don't try to understand how the concepts tie into another. And often I think that that calc based physics does a better job of doing that then does trig based physics.

And yah I know that you can't use dimensional analysis to figure out an integration or derivation. I was just pointing out that sometimes if you take a class seriously rather than just learning what you need to know, you'll find that it will help you to learn and connect the dots in other classes like physics.

For me understanding the calculus behind physics has made understanding why things are in physics are what they are a little bit better.

Maybe memorizing works for some, but I'm the kind of person that sees things better when I see the details of the big picture. For instance, I found oxidative phos easier to understand after having biochem, because biochem went into the missing pieces of the puzzle by talking about intermediate steps it takes to go from complex 1 to 3 to 4. But you are right, you don't need to know those details to understand the concepts.

It just helps sometimes if you have a bit deeper knowledge.

Also I think calc teaches you how to think very logically.

But you are right the TPR course nor any premed really thinks about those little things like how the formulas are integrated. I don't even remember my teacher going over that kind of stuff since it was obviously algebra/trig based physics that I took. However, when I began to see those relationships they made my life easier by helping me to grasp what I didn't see before.

I hope you understand what I'm saying.

One more thing, I disagree. Many people take classes and then when they don't use the stuff they tend to forget it, especially if it has been like one or two years since they took the class. And I'm not saying not to just memorize them. That is good and all. I'm just saying for me personally, memorizing was fine and dandy, but understanding why they are what they are via understanding integration which wasn't taught in physics....has helped a whole lot.

Also, the comment about taking calc just to understand physics is not right, cuz at some schools people have to take it as a prereq into physics. I know that is the case where my friend goes to school, granted that they don't have algebra based physics where she goes to school and all.
 

Shrike

Lanius examinatianus
10+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2004
646
4
too far south
Status
HistoRocks said:
Of course dimensional analysis cannot be used to derive a formula. Dimensional analysis is only good for converting from one type of unit to another.

Oh boy. I honestly don't think you should take a 14 week class to find out why its 1/2at^2 instead of at^2... unless of course you plan to get a Ph.D in that area. :laugh: That has to be the most insignificant detail in all of science... I DO hope no one at TPR asked you to be able to derive that formula either!

Yeah, thats what physics gets down to, concepts.

Knowing all the kinematics equations by heart is a must! And of course being able to change the formula/equation around.

Its best to have as many of the formulas memorized... it does save you time at the end of the day. If you do enough physics problems, over a period of 1 yr, believe me... you won't forget the formulas for a very long time.
I have some quibbles. To wit:

Calculus-based physics can be helpful for understanding some MCAT physics problems -- a decent example is potential (gravitational or electrical), where the algebra-trained premeds need to accept and remember what the calculus types can understand from derivations they've performed in the past. But because premeds are conditioned to accept and remember, this is not a sufficient advantage to warrant taking calculus-based physics if there's a good reason not to (though there usually isn't -- at most schools I suspect the calculus version is easier). And no, no TPR teacher would ever derive these or any other formulas, if he had a clue what he was doing.

It is not best to have as many formulas as possible memorized, however, because if you do this you will think physics is about formulas, and you will aproach problems this way. Great on your physics midterm, but lousy on the MCAT. There are formulas you need to know, about thirty of them; the rest are mental clutter at best and affirmative impediments in some cases. But it should be clear that the ones you need to know, you really need to know; here I agree with you.

You do not need to know all the kinematics formulas, for example. Only two are truly necessary on the MCAT: d = v(0)t +0.5at^t, and v^2 = v(0)^2 +2ad. Two of the others [v = v(0) + at and d = 0.5t(v(0) + v)] are just completely obvious if you think about them, which you should until you see it, and you should never write them down on a problem because that's just an opportunity for your pencil to lead your brain astray. The fifth never arises on problems the way MCAT asks them.

Shrike
TPR physics, verbal, bio
 

Topper Harley

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2005
38
0
Navy Aircraft Carrier SS Essess
Status
dancinjenn said:
duh...that's why the "SIC" is in "phySICs"
Haha! I made a similar type of joke about chemistry when i was taking my first semester of chem ever.. chemistry ==> Chem is try

like chem = trying
you can only try in chem
i dont know it was funny at the time......... i think. :scared: ....