Register to reply 
There is no good basic physics book. 
Share this thread: 
#1
Jan1813, 02:53 PM

P: 18

I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a good physics book. Every one has multiple problems with it. The only book which approaches the level of mathematical rigor necessary for learning the general principles of physics is AlonsoFinn. The rest are just plugandchug formulaic garbage in between filler text that describes phenomena in a very trivial way. Yet AlonsoFinn seems to be almost unused nowadays (perhaps because the level of mathematics  while still quite low  is way beyond most students) and unfortunately there are no solved problems in it, making it difficult to use for selfstudy.
I mean, what's the problem? Why has nobody stepped up and written a physics book that explains elementary physics in the way real physicists use it? We have dozens of books that are more or less the same (Serway, Giancoli, Halliday, etc.). You'd think there'd be a market for a physics book that teaches vector potentials of the magnetic field, the continuity equation's derivation from the divergence theorem, matrices for coordinate transformations, etc. But instead we get these watereddown Mickey Mouse formulas and any insight into the underlying mathematics requires reverseengineering every formula into the general mathematical principles. Please tell me I'm wrong and that somewhere there's a physics book that doesn't treat the reader like a trained ape. Anyone? 


#2
Jan1813, 02:56 PM

Mentor
P: 18,299



#3
Jan1813, 03:52 PM

P: 18

Kleppner's book only has the answers to the exercises, though. I've compiled a lot of solutions provided by different professors, but still the book itself has that same problem as AlonsoFinn.
I've never seen Morin's book before, but it seems like it's just a set of problems. Ultimately from my experience this means very little insight can be gained from the problems that expands upon the material provided already in the book  it's more or less just like doing drills. Purcell, again like AlonsoFinn, has no solutions provided. All of these are also not what I'd consider basic physics books. 


#4
Jan1813, 04:11 PM

C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
P: 5,630

There is no good basic physics book.
You are asking for too much. You have to learn to deal with the best that is available or create your own. The problems in Morin are top notch and if you can do those then you shouldn't have a problem with any other undergraduate mechanics book; tons of insight can be gained from his problems. I have no idea on what premise you say they can't. Your need for solutions will come to bite you later on when you do upper level physics courses because almost all of those texts do not have solutions. Get used to it while you still can.



#5
Jan1813, 04:29 PM

Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 5,597

I agree with micromass that K&K and Purcell are great. But those books are aimed at the top 10% of students at Berkeley or MIT. The problem is at the lower levels, covering 99% of physics students. The commercial offerings at those levels are dismal. However, there are also noncommercial possibilities: http://www.theassayer.org/cgibin/as...=Q#freeclassQC



#6
Jan1813, 04:48 PM

P: 18

Not having solutions in a text is perfectly fine when the class is organized and the instructor provides exercises and solutions and the syllabus outlines exactly what will be studied. But the problem is that frequently the instructor provides very little or  in the case of selfstudy  absolutely nothing at all. So what then? Then I'm at my current predicament: I need to learn physics to an unknown depth essentially on my own. So I naturally go for a book which covers each subject in a level that is more than adequate (which means learning primarily from AlonsoFinn at the moment with more advanced derivations provided by the excellent Wikipedia articles) But, as I said, without an instructor to actually instruct the class (or even provide a syllabus, really), I'm left rewriting the current physics books into a form that is sufficiently formal for a quantitative understanding of general physical principles. Because really, there is absolutely no reason for a physics text to avoid a formal description of phenomena considering that's precisely what physics is all about. As a side note, I think the main problem is that many texts are written for universities in the US. But why does it seem that vector calculus isn't even taught in the US system until the end of undergrad? Shouldn't vector calculus be a prerequisite for physics? 


#7
Jan1813, 05:01 PM

P: 273

I agree with Dunn regarding solutions. I learn over 2x faster with them.



#8
Jan1813, 08:33 PM

Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 5,597




#9
Jan1813, 08:39 PM

P: 273




#10
Jan1813, 09:18 PM

P: 898

in my graduate level classes here's what happens:
we got a book with full answers. that way we could teach ourselves because the professor realized that many students were not getting enough help from the lectures to learn at the expected level. the problems were either self made or from another book that we didn't know about. i believe that all books should have at least full answers for even or odd problems. those that want to study specialized subjects by themselves can do so. professors can just use a 2nd book or assign the problems without answers. however, for the OP, i think you're too unrealistic. general physics is an introduction to physics, 99% of people won't use it again. 


#11
Jan1813, 10:02 PM

P: 108

If you want the Fully solved Introductory Book then Use University Physics with Mastering Physics.or the book having (Instructors) solution manuals available.



#12
Jan1913, 05:10 PM

P: 103

Are you talking about just a general physics text book?
Because I always thought that the text book Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick, and Walker did an excellent job of teaching general physics. There were so many worked out examples in each chapter that gave you a great foundation to solve the problems with each chapter. I've only ever used the first volume (there's two), so I don't know how in depth the second half is, but I thought for a general introductory physics book, it was quite superb. 


#13
Jan2113, 07:06 AM

P: 116

It depends if you really want what you're seeking for. The Laundau/Lifgarbagez 10volume series should satisfy your criteria.



#14
Jan2313, 05:09 AM

P: 83




#15
Jan2313, 06:03 PM

Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 5,059




#16
Jan2613, 07:12 AM

P: 900

I'm only familiar with old editions of Halliday & Resnick, Physics. I still think the 3rd edition (the green and yellow one) is beautiful. Has the publisher screwed the books up that much?
I'm not sure why anyone would expect a freshman physics text to cover magnetic potentials. 


#17
Feb413, 09:10 AM

P: 97

Since you are referring to Alonso Finn in the singular, I assume you intend the 1100+ pages tome "Physics" that supposedly superseded the three volumes of "Fundamental University Physics". Well, that book is a watered down version of those three tomes. And it is the more watered down the further you move toward the end of it. Its covering of mechanics is somehow similar to what was given in the first volume of the older edition (albeit with less unsolved but still very insightful  exercises); Electromagnetism, waves and optics chapters have been roughly halved in extent; but it's the modern physics part that is only a shadow of what the third volume was. My suggestion: try to find the three volumes of Alonso and Finn's Fundamental University Physics and get yourself a good exercise book for each branch of physics: mechanics, thermodynamics, EM and optics, QM. Might seems a costly endeavor at first, but it will repay you in the long term. 


Register to reply 
Related Discussions  
A good book for basic Physics for a beginner  Science & Math Textbooks  9  
Good Basic Algebra Refresher Book  Science & Math Textbooks  1  
Good physics book  Science & Math Textbooks  1  
Anyone have a good Physics Book?  Science & Math Textbooks  5  
Good book on basic physics  Academic Guidance  4 