Constructing my first memory palace: Learning all the physics formulas for the Physics GRE

Alright, I’m a physics student who is good at applying and visualizing concepts, and decent at math. One thing I’m terrible at however, is memorizing equations. I can memorize facts very well, such as history, book quotes, etc. I’m currently studying for my Physics GRE’s this fall, and I need to memorize pretty much all the formulae in undergraduate physics. For my classes, we were often allowed to have a formula sheet, and as such I’ve been out of practice as far as remembering them. Normally, I’d just start with the basic formulas and derive the rest but since speed is so important for the GRE I’m not sure that’s possible with only 100 seconds per question average. The memory palace piques my interest as a useful device, so I’m embarking to create my own. Each “Room” will be a section of physics, and I plan on putting cues in them to remember the formulas.

Mechanics: Garage/game room
Electricity/magnetism: Home theater/technology room
Thermodynamics: Kitchen
Space/orbits/gravitation: Bedroom with mobile and telescope
Nuclear: Library?
Quantum: Basement lab

Does anyone have any advice for a memory novice? I’d describe myself as a high speed CPU running off of a 100Gb hard drive, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

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I have not memorized formulas myself, but here is at least my idea of how I think it could be done:

First of all, as you probably know already, you will come quite a long way by just considering why it makes sense that certain terms are in a formula.
However, I guess that sometimes you may want to simply memorize the formula since it might be either to unintuitive or just very complex.

So what I think you can do is to decide upon memory images for common symbols that occur. You may for instance have special symbols for +,-,*,/, derivative, integral, ^2, ^3, infinity, greek letters etc (or perhaps not * since that can be implicit). I think you should probably have images for parentheses since I think it would be more effective and easier to memorize the formulas as if they had parentheses which would make it possible to simply memorize linearly. When dealing with integrals you must decide upon a convention so that you know what the limits are when retrieving the information. Perhaps you could just decide to put two pair of parentheses directly after the integral image with the lower and upper limits in each. That way you would be able to have empty parentheses to indicate that there is no limit.

However, those are just details of how you could think when transforming the formulas into a form that can then be translated into images. The rest is however very similar to memorizing telephone numbers or any other sequence of information that is connected to a certain thing, in this case the name of the formula. So perhaps you just make up images for the different formulas and make up a story connected to that image that contains the images for the actual symbols in the formula.

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Question on the subject: how effective do you find just writing formulas in loci, because traditional method of converting to images seems to me rather messy in this case? Say, if I write first set of equations on the mirror with a toothpaste and then try to visualise it again after 5 min, hour, 24 hours, week, month, 3 months and so on, would it stick too, unlike with primitive sound repetition?

It’s difficult to remember written words. It is much better to convert the words/equations into images, and you visualize and review those.

To address the question directly: Not effective at all. It might work for a single word or maybe a two digit number if you make them interesting, but even for that, it’s exponentially better to turn them into images.

I am also a physics student, and learn all the important equations by heart.
This explains how I do it.
The main point is that I let the objects (loci) in my memory palace symbolize the symbols in the equation (if I hadn’t had chosen an image for the symbol before, in that case I substitute the object with that image). Then I let these objects do something that links them to their symbols.

Often before starting to fill my palace with math symbols, I visualize the page where I saw this equation on the wall of the palace. I stretch it wider, so the symbols of the equation are located behind the objects in my memory palace. Then I let the objects symbolize the symbols.

The operator problem (*,/,+,-, power… etc) can be reduced by finding a locus where the objects are located the same way as the equation looks. If they are not located like that, I often rearrange the objects. This isn’t very hard to do and can be remembered quite well.

What are thoughts then on relatively small 2 or 3d things, like, say, triforce on someone’s head as a ^3?

Should work well. I find it more easily memorable when the locus equation has the same structure as the equation on paper.

I take it you are not using one specific journey for your physics equations? You find a suitable locus that can describe your equation well. Do you link these loci together in some way?

I’m currently putting equations along a linear journey, where each equation has as many loci as they need. It seems a little bit messy, and I’m looking for other ways to go about it.

I don’t like linear palaces as well. Gavino’s system is the best for organizing your memory palaces. Basically it says that you can “enrichen” your Memory Palace with extra loci, which you place around the loci you already have in your Memory Palace (I use movie scenes for “enrichening”). This way it becomes Massive Memory Palace.
So break your linear journey apart and put the equation-loci (e.g. one equation at time) in already existing non-linear memory palace.

If you are interested there is my example too (on the 2nd page), how I constructed my Massive Math Palace using just 30*30 m2 garden.

Already read. Excellent ideas!

Hadn’t read that. Read it now, superhelpful info! I will definitely try organizing in a similar manner :slight_smile:

You have an awesome garden!

I’m a bit late into the game.

The link you gave seems dead now. Could you provide an updated one, if there is one?