Online science resources for a liberal arts major?
July 25, 2013 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn science.

I am a liberal arts major, and my science knowledge is nil. I haven't taken a science course since high school, and I have forgotten whatever I did learn back then.

I'm not interested in academic credits, I just want to understand the basics of an entire field of knowledge that somehow I have mostly ignored. Recommendations? I'm looking for online resources other than Wikipedia or ebooks (if free or cheap).

I'm mostly interested in physics, but other areas are welcome too.

Thanks in advance.
posted by Hawk V to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One key link: MIT OpenCourseWare
posted by megatherium at 6:27 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Khan Academy
posted by aroberge at 6:30 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Are you willing to spend a bit of money? If so, Larry Gonick's "Cartoon Guide to..." book series were made for you. They are extremely well done, very easy to read and learn from. I particularly recommend the "Cartoon Guide to Physics" and the "Cartoon Guide to Genetics".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:29 PM on July 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Heh. I'm a rocket scientist that wants to learn about art.

When I was in college non-sciencey and non-engineering types took Conceptual Physics. That site has a link called The Physics Classroom that might interest you. I've only given it a cursory glance, but it seems to cover the basics.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:49 PM on July 25, 2013

Saylor is awesome. They offer free self-paced university-style classes and coursework.

Here are their current physics offerings:
PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics
PHYS102: Introduction to Electromagnetism

In terms of other sciences, they also have entire programs in biology, chemistry, and mathematics, as well as introductory classes in astronomy and geology.
posted by divined by radio at 7:50 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: iTunesU and youtube both have thousands of lectures on all kinds of science topics. There is also /r/askscience on reddit, which is a treasure.

If you went to invest a lot of hours into it, look up 'Leonard Susskind Stanford' on youtube. He recorded a couple hundred hours of lectures covering all of modern physics from the basics up to general relativity and string theory.

You'll probably want to go through the khan academy videos on linear algebra, calculus, probability, statistics and physics, first, though.
posted by empath at 9:00 PM on July 25, 2013

Best answer: Oh -- and look up Walter Lewin on youtube as well. He's an MIT professor, and his courses are both informative and entertaining.
posted by empath at 9:03 PM on July 25, 2013

There are lots of very cool-sounding free classes at Coursera.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 1:20 AM on July 26, 2013

Best answer: (Khan Academy's math offerings, from what I've seen two or so years ago, are fine if you want to learn the mechanics of some mathematical calculations, but give little explanation or context for the 'why' behind the calculations. This style of math instruction is exactly what turned off many artsy types I know from math; though is efficient if you only want to learn the minimal math necessary for other applications and you want to do it quickly.)
posted by eviemath at 3:19 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

With the current MOOC explosion, there are lots of high-quality free online courses becoming available. Aside from Coursera mentioned above, edX (started by MIT and Harvard) has a number of science courses starting soon. Walter Lewin's Classical Mechanics course is available on edX.

Also check out Udacity.
posted by sriracha at 5:21 AM on July 26, 2013

Go buy a chemistry set and mess around with it. I also recommend the Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, which you can Google and download from many places across the internet. It emphasizes doing over just memorizing concepts.
posted by msittig at 7:34 AM on July 26, 2013

Best answer: Counterpart to Cartoon Guide is Manga Guide to ...
Molecular Biology
Linear Algebra

If you can understand basics concepts of in those books, you will have better scientific understanding than 90% of general population.
posted by Carius at 3:16 PM on July 26, 2013
posted by tarvuz at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2013

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