Nov 212013
 

Question by Mighty Warrior: How to study science in my own time?
I’m much more of a philosophy nut than a science guy, as I understand the former far more easily than the latter, although both interest and intrigue me, and I can have discussions on both.

The problem being that, as much as I’d love to be more educated in science in general (mostly physics and astronomy (which I’m already somewhat familiar with), but also most other fields such as chemistry, biology and anthropology), it’s difficult for me to learn considering it seems a lot more applied and concrete than philosophy, which can largely be done without empirical knowledge or objective facts (and I *certainly* do not want to make that sound like a bad thing). I realize that, especially when it comes to contemporary physics, there is an overlap between these two fields I’m interested in, such as in the cases of thought experiments, and that before Descartes and Galileo, science and philosophy were the same thing (philosophy etymologically meaning “the love of knowledge”, so this is understandable).

I’ve been thinking about reading on classical (Newtonian) mechanics and possibly even on some of Leibniz’s works considering I’m already familiar with his philosophical and theological ideas, but I feel like that would be jumping head-first into something too complicated, so where should I start? Even reading a children’s book could work for me, although I’m a resident in college so ideally, I’d like online sources or books I can get at a college library. I’m in a music program (which I LOVE), if that helps at all.

Thanks in advance.

Best answer:

Answer by Jason
Khan Academy has some nice free tutorials about basic sciences; particularly biology and physics. It is mostly math-based but it does have some science topics as well. The YouTube channel Minute Physics is nice too; especially for boiling complex topics down to the essentials. Udacity and EdX have a few science classes you can take for free online. For biology, UC Berkeley has the best tutorials on the internet for learning evolutionary theory.

If you enjoy the challenge of reading the classics, I recommend “On the Shoulders of Giants” edited by Stephen Hawking. It is a massive book, but it’s gold for a science geek. It is a compendium of translations of the original “great works” of physics including the original publications by Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, and Einstein. It’s a brick of a book but fascinating to read not just *about* Newton’s laws, but to see the actual, original derivations of the equations, etc. If you enjoy the philosophy of science, you will probably enjoy this book.

Hope that gets you started. :)

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  One Response to “How to study science in my own time?”

  1. Look into philosophy of science, starting with the work of Popper. Next, look for some of the modern books by respected scientists written for a general audience. They tell you enough for you to understand what’s going on, but not enough to do the science. I’m reading The Hidden Reality, by Brian Greene. For the most part, I consider the multiverse theories to be more philosophy than science.

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