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Introductory calculus based physics books?

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kraphysics
#1
May21-11, 05:46 PM
P: 41
Here's my first semester course description:


"A calculus-based course for students majoring in the physical sciences. Newtonian mechanics, including kinematics, dynamics, conservation of momentum and energy, rotational motion and angular momentum; special relativistic kinematics and dynamics, including length contraction, time dilation, and the conservation of energy and momentum in special relativity. "
I want to self study during summer and was wondering what book would be best to cover all these topics? In case it matters, I've taken Calculus I and am pretty comfortable with it..
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WannabeNewton
#2
May21-11, 06:48 PM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,410
Classical Mechanics - Taylor is probably the best one I can think of. Its very long though, some 700 pages if I remember and it has a wealth of practice problems.
Ryker
#3
May21-11, 06:56 PM
P: 1,088
You're going to be using this book, so you can just start reading it. If I were you, though, I'd just enjoy the summer and not worry too much about studying ahead.

kraphysics
#4
May21-11, 07:03 PM
P: 41
Introductory calculus based physics books?

Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
You're going to be using this book, so you can just start reading it. If I were you, though, I'd just enjoy the summer and not worry too much about studying ahead.
How do you know I'm going to use this book?
Ryker
#5
May21-11, 07:31 PM
P: 1,088
Because I know where you're going to study
kraphysics
#6
May21-11, 07:37 PM
P: 41
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Because I know where you're going to study
Really? Can you tell me about the course? Is it hard? Are you a professor there?
Ryker
#7
May21-11, 09:37 PM
P: 1,088
Why... why, yes, yes I am a professor there

Nah, just kidding. I have taken the course, though. The course isn't easy, but it also isn't the hardest one you can encounter in your first year. If you're taking Honors Calculus and Linear Algebra, that's going to be much harder as far as grasping concepts and being able to solve problems is concerned. If you're taking regular courses, then this is probably going to be the hardest course, but not so much due to not being able to understand the stuff, but due to the midterm and the final swamping you with so many problems that it's going to be hard to finish or, if you do, hard to finish comfortably. For example, I think the average on the final was 43%, but from what I remember he said he's going to try and change that next year, so that you can probably expect the same level of difficulty, but less problems. That being said, low average and grading on a curve also mean that you can get an A+ even with a cumulative average of less than 90% in the course.

The course itself doesn't introduce much new stuff, it's mostly high school taken to a slightly higher level, and it's stated at the beginning that its aim is to bring everyone up to speed and to the same level. So concept-wise you shouldn't have too much trouble if you keep up with the reading, it's just that you won't be able to go into the exam and expect a perfect score, like you could with some other courses. To give you some perspective, I spent on average around 4 - 5 hours weekly on the course outside of class and was happy with the end result.

edit: I just noticed you're going to have a different instructor, so I'm not sure how much of this will still apply.
kraphysics
#8
May21-11, 10:23 PM
P: 41
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Why... why, yes, yes I am a professor there

Nah, just kidding. I have taken the course, though. The course isn't easy, but it also isn't the hardest one you can encounter in your first year. If you're taking Honors Calculus and Linear Algebra, that's going to be much harder as far as grasping concepts and being able to solve problems is concerned. If you're taking regular courses, then this is probably going to be the hardest course, but not so much due to not being able to understand the stuff, but due to the midterm and the final swamping you with so many problems that it's going to be hard to finish or, if you do, hard to finish comfortably. For example, I think the average on the final was 43%, but from what I remember he said he's going to try and change that next year, so that you can probably expect the same level of difficulty, but less problems. That being said, low average and grading on a curve also mean that you can get an A+ even with a cumulative average of less than 90% in the course.

The course itself doesn't introduce much new stuff, it's mostly high school taken to a slightly higher level, and it's stated at the beginning that its aim is to bring everyone up to speed and to the same level. So concept-wise you shouldn't have too much trouble if you keep up with the reading, it's just that you won't be able to go into the exam and expect a perfect score, like you could with some other courses. To give you some perspective, I spent on average around 4 - 5 hours weekly on the course outside of class and was happy with the end result.

edit: I just noticed you're going to have a different instructor, so I'm not sure how much of this will still apply.
Thanks for the insight! I'm not sure whether to take honours calculus though. do you think it's worth it?
Ryker
#9
May22-11, 10:14 AM
P: 1,088
This is a tough question to answer in general. To me, it was definitely worth it, and I guess you can break it down into two parts. First, if you're taking Physics as a major, is it worth it in that it helps with physics courses, and second, is it worth it from a personal satisfaction standpoint?

I'm not far enough in my undergrad to be able to comment much on the first question. You're not using that much of Calculus in your first year courses, and what you do is just your usual integration and differentiation that is taught in the regular course, as well. So you're definitely not going to need to know how to prove maths stuff for your physics courses. That being said, with Honors Calculus being more rigorous and proof-based, I'd say you do get an advantage in that you understand the techniques better and actually know why you're using them when you are. From what I hear, the regular course is namely just computations and while you do get all the techniques needed at this level, you don't go "behind the scenes". But again, it's hard to gauge how important this is going to be in further studies.

But the answer to the second question is a definite "yes". I wanted to do the Honors version, because I wanted to go with the best they offer and didn't want to settle for a watered down version. This had its drawbacks, of course, in that I probably spent a minimum of 8 hours on each weekly homework (often more) and adding to that a couple of hours to re-read the lecture notes, it amounted to a hefty weekly workload. Taking the regular course would require you to do much less (I hear a couple of hours spent on homework gets you 100% with not that much hassle), and indeed a lot of people dropped out of the class as the semester progressed. In the beginning, there were around 50 people taking it, at the end of Honors Calculus II, there were 24 left. You can see it's going to make you work hard and you're going to waste hours you could've enjoyed free time on doing maths. Here it's up to you to decide whether that's worth it or not. For me it was, even though I wished I had more free time sometimes. And to add to that, if you like maths, you're going to enjoy the Honors version much more. Like I said, the regular one is only doing computations, whereas here you're thrown into proofs straight away, making it less boring.
SuicideSteve
#10
May24-11, 02:16 PM
P: 24
If you are still interested in a great book for self study. I would recommend The Feynman Lectures on Physics. As you are going to be taking the class in the future anyway, this would be a fantastic supplement to the course and good summer reading as it doesn't read like a textbook per-se. More like a science based book for your own enjoyment! Yet the books still cover all of classical mechanics, E&M, and Quantum Mechanics.

http://www.amazon.com/Feynman-Lectur...6264491&sr=8-1

Read Surely Your Joking Mr. Feynman too, if your into physics its very funny and will give you some good motivation to self study some more :)

http://www.amazon.com/Surely-Feynman...264491&sr=8-13


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