in this post, we’ll discuss how calculus is used in physics and what is the right way to study calculus, in addtion to the challenges students face studying this subject.
Does physics require calculus?
physics requires a lot of calculus, almost 90% of physics topics use and require calculus equations and functions, like derivatives, integrals, and differential equations. without calculus is impossible to study physics.
calculus is really interesting and important to understand physics topics, in a physics major, you will be required to have a solid knowledge of calculus. You must at least be good at derivatives and integrals to solve problems.
How calculus is used in physics
Calculus is used in all stem domains including physics, physics relay heavily on calculus to study mulitple physics phenomena and domains like quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and electromagnetism, physicists use a lot of derivatives and integrals which are calculus topics so where you go you will find calculus in physics.
we’re going to give 4 simple examples of how calculus is used in physics in theses following domains:
1 – quantum mechanics
In quantum mechanics, students use calculus to study the nature and different forms of atom energy evolution. In a simple way to predict the behavior of atoms like how it changes the energy or how atoms or particles move into different spaces.
Physicists use a group of calculus equations to study these phenomena like the example below:
2 – Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics is the most famous subject in physics that relates a lot to calculus. In thermodynamics, physicists use calculus functions like derivatives, integrals, and equations differential to study how particles change energy.
thermodynamics has 2 famous principles or laws:
theses both laws study the behavior of atoms and how they change energy. It is an essential and principal subject of physics used to develop the airplane engines and rockets we see today. Engineers and physics work together by employing calculus equations to enhance these engines’ performance for instance making them consume less fuel and produce maximum power.
3 – classical mechanics
One of the most famous uses in our lives and related to physics is newton’s laws about movements including speed and acceleration. The cars, bikes, and motors we drive today use calculus equations without noticing that.
The real frequent example is speed monitors allowing us to visualize the speed our car is running.
For instance, when you see 80 mph, this value is an outcome of calculus equations, which a car computer applies multiple times in a second allowing us to determine the speed we run at.
The famous calculus equation speed monitors use is the following below:
All of us know that to determine the speed of an object we need to use this equation, but most students don’t know that this equation is a calculus equation, without calculus, you wouldn’t be able to visualize or calculate the speed of an object.
In addtion, there is another term that relates to speed which is acceleration. for instance when we hear that the fastest car in the world “Bugatti ” accelerates from 0 to 60mph in 2.4 seconds, this is an example of acceleration.
the acceleration has a solid relation to speed, calculus allows us to determine the acceleration of an object just by knowing its speed by applying this equation.
4 – electromagnetism
The last example we’re going to mention is electromagnetism which is the study of the relation between the electricity magnetism domain. Engineers and physicists use mulitple calculus equations to study electricity and electromagnetism domains.
in electricity to determine for example the electric current or let’s say the amount of current a capacitor can hold we use this famous equation:
Or to determine how the electromagnetic field affects cable and other electronic devices we use calculus equations called maxwell equations.
there are many maxwell equations that determine and study the electromagnetic field you could watch this video to know more details about this subject.
is calculus-based physics hard
calculus-based physics is hard, it requires being good at math and physics and math, you will be employing all math subjects like derivatives and integrals in physics applications, especially kinematics studying the object’s movements such as speed and accelerations. Also, electromagnetism studies the properties of materials like how they conduct electricity or what are the properties of magnetism.
Regardless of the difficulty of calculus-based physics, you will enjoy applying complex equations is something you can sense and monitor like:
Difference between calculus physics and regular calculus
Calculus physics and regular physics are the same, in regular calculus, you will learn abstract calculus rules without knowing where to employ them. While in calculus physics you will employ these complex derivatives, integrals, and differential equations in multiple fields in all engineering and physics majors like thermodynamics and kinematics.
The difference between calculus physics and regular physics is like taking firstly the theoretical class which is regular calculus then going to the lab to make an experiment which is calculus physics.
Should I take calculus and physics at the same time
no, you shouldn’t take physic and calculus at the same time, is not a good idea. It will be difficult to take a calculus course and physics at the same time, especially if you are a beginner in calculus. The good option is to take calculus courses before including calculus 1 and calculus 2 then take physics courses later.
The principal reason is physics courses require one to be good at calculus, so having no foundation in calculus means failing in physics courses especially when we talk about college topics like thermodynamics, kinematics, and electromagnetism.
So the best thing to do is take a calculus course at the beginning alone, in this way, you will have the advantage to focus and absorb calculus well than taking physics courses that you find easier to absorb.