Physics & Mathematics

Youngsub Yoon

Why another website explaining physics?

Many books and many websites explain physics for laymen. They try to convey to you what physics is and what physics is about by explaining through words, without any mathematical formulas. As a consequence, they tend to lack any exposition of physics with mathematical formulas. Of course, laymen cannot understand mathematical formulas. This might be the reason why none of the websites try to explain physics with mathematical formulas. Nevertheless, you cannot truly understand physics without mathematics. You may have read hundreds of books on physics aimed at laymen, yet you may not truly understand physics if you havent studied math. Prof. Strominger at Harvard University once noted that explaining physics without mathematics is like explaining how beautiful particular scenery is without a photograph; you can only truly appreciate the beauty of the scenery when you see the photograph of it. Likewise, you can only truly appreciate physics when you know mathematics.

A Chinese proverb emphasizes this point. ڤ̸ Hearing something one hundred times is not as good as seeing it once. As it would be hard to explain all the math necessary to understand physics, I began with science and engineering college students. If you are one of these students, you know something about basic math which may enable you to understand basic physics, even though you are not majoring in physics. From this observation, I wrote a couple of articles introducing the basic ideas of quantum mechanics to science and engineering college students on a Korean website Many people commented that my articles were impressive.

After all, science and engineering college students do not usually learn quantum mechanics unless they are physics majors, and even if they are, they have to wait until junior year to learn it. On the other hand, my article was targeted for sophomores who have already learned basic math such as calculus and linear algebra in their freshmen year. So, it must have been a striking experience for them since they would not normally have a chance to understand what quantum mechanics is about. Then, I began to think, Why stop here? So, I wrote more articles at naver, and I began writing them in English for my homepage as well. After all, I found many concepts, observations, laws, formulas, and relations in math and physics very interesting, and found it unfortunate that many of them are not accessible to science and engineering students. This is not because they are hard, but because they are rather hidden among enormous amount of materials and written in unfamiliar languages. Furthermore, it suddenly struck me that I had been lucky enough to read a good series on mathematics when I was young. The series was written by a Japanese mathematician and was translated into Korean with the title ȥڼ ũ С (Mathematics you grow on your own). The series was composed of six books, each of which was designed to be covered for a week. It started out with very basic mathematics usually covered in middle school and by the end of the sixth week you were supposed to master calculus at the level of single variable calculus for advanced high school students.

Then, I began to think that I wanted to write such books. A book that starts out from scratch and builds higher and higher on to advanced math and physics. Recently I came across a good book on Einsteins theory of relativity aimed at laymen. It explains successfully not only special relativity, but also general relativity, which is a topic usually covered in graduate school. This encouraged my hope that it will be possible to write such a book as I envision, a book that can explain hard physics with all mathematical formulas to laymen. My previous aim of writing physics and math articles for my homepage was introducing the basics of physics to science and engineering college students. Now its aim is making these articles accessible to laymen by writing more introductory physics and math articles. These articles can serve as the prerequisites for the articles that are aimed at science and engineering college students.