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# Classical Electricity and Magnetism by Edward Purcell

by bcrowell
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 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 5,578 Author: Edward Purcell Title: Electricity and Magnetism Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Electricity-Ma.../dp/1107013607 Prerequisities: Freshman mechanics. A year of calculus. Purcell introduces vector calculus from scratch, but most students who hadn't already had vector calc would probably be overwhelmed. Table of Contents: 1. Electrostatics: charges and fields 2. The electric potential 3. Electric field around conductors 4. Electric currents 5. The fields of moving charges 6. The magnetic field 7. Electromagnetic induction 8. Alternating-current circuits 9. Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves 10. Electric fields in matter 11. Magnetic fields in matter Appendixes Index.
 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 5,578 This is a best-of-breed book. Its highlight is the extensive use of relativity to develop the idea of electromagnetism as the first unified field theory. Although the book does present the mathematical tools of vector calculus from scratch, it is clearly designed for students who are physics majors, have had a substantial high school physics course, and have had strong mathematical preparation. I would not dare to use this book to teach an E&M course to a less elite audience. The use of cgs units in this book is IMO a nuisance. Given the book's emphasis on relativity as a link between electricity and magnetism, it's nice to use a system in which E and B have the same units. However, I prefer to handle this by using SI units and writing Maxwell's equations with the coupling constants expressed as k and k/c^2, which makes the relativistic links almost as evident and allows a much easier connection with practical laboratory measurements. There is a 3rd edition coming out in 2013 from Cambridge Press, as Purcell and Morin, and it will have SI units -- yay! I would not recommend buying the 2nd edition at this point. The book is extremely old, and although Maxwell's equations haven't changed, some of the discussion of experimental evidence, e.g., bounds on the non-neutrality of the hydrogen atom, are many decades out of date.
 C. Spirit Sci Advisor Thanks P: 5,401 Would you recommend Purcell over Griffiths for someone who is looking for a deep conceptual understanding? What I mean is, when the level of mathematics is no issue, would you say the problems in Purcell tend to instill a deeper understanding or the problems in Griffiths or are they about equal? I'm not sure how much relativity Griffiths uses but approaching EM from a SR point of view would be more appealing.
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 5,578
Electricity and Magnetism by Edward Purcell

 Quote by WannabeNewton Would you recommend Purcell over Griffiths for someone who is looking for a deep conceptual understanding? What I mean is, when the level of mathematics is no issue, would you say the problems in Purcell tend to instill a deeper understanding or the problems in Griffiths or are they about equal? I'm not sure how much relativity Griffiths uses but approaching EM from a SR point of view would be more appealing.
I haven't read Griffiths, but Griffiths is an upper-division book, Purcell lower-division.
C. Spirit
Thanks
P: 5,401
 Quote by bcrowell I haven't read Griffiths, but Griffiths is an upper-division book, Purcell lower-division.
Indeed but they don't seem to have much of a difference in terms of content / introductory material and mathematics; neither of them go beyond vector calculus. I was just wondering which had harder problems so I could recommend one over the other as I've only seen the problems in Purcell and not in Griffiths.
 P: 690 (I am only familiar with 2nd edition, as it was the required book for second semester physics) This is a fantastic book on classical electromagnetism, designed for freshmen/sophmores (at least in US). The exposition yields significant insight into the physics and is truly enjoyable. Some of the problems are straightforward, while others require significant amounts of work and insight. In principle the book "teaches" the vector calculus that is required, but in reality prior knowledge of vector calculus is highly recommended. The book mostly covers electrostatics, magnetostatics, induction, and fields in matter. Electromagnetic waves are certainly included but not emphasized. A great follow-on book that covers waves brilliantly is "electromagnetic vibrations, waves, and radiation" by Bekefi and Barrett. While I really enjoy this book, I am not convinced it is appropriate for most students as a first exposure to the subject. My second semester physics course was based on Purcell and I found it to be too challenging. I had never seen any electromagnetic theory or vector calculus before. Yes, there were a few students in class that seemed to easily grasp everything, but most of us really struggled just to survive. I did learn a lot from the course and the book, but I would have learned even more had the book (or the professor!!!!) been a tad more helpful. Still, the book did capture my imagination and to this day I have a love of electromagnetic theory that was instilled by this book.
 C. Spirit Sci Advisor Thanks P: 5,401 The 3rd edition actually came out (either yesterday or today). It was redone by Morin so you can trust it will be good (based on the draft he didn't change the text itself but rather added a slew of more difficult problems about half of which have solutions in the text).
 P: 108 The Book is very Low I read it with the whole Berkeley Physics Course (in Academic Year 10) when I have to Appear for AP Physics B.
Mentor
P: 18,019
 Quote by n10Newton The Book is very Low I read it with the whole Berkeley Physics Course (in Academic Year 10) when I have to Appear for AP Physics B.
It's about the hardest E&M text for freshmen out there...
P: 246
 Quote by n10Newton The Book is very Low I read it with the whole Berkeley Physics Course (in Academic Year 10) when I have to Appear for AP Physics B.
You used a college-level textbook that uses vector calculus to prepare for an alegbra-based physics exam?
 P: 108 What to do, not any Algebra based Physics book was available in my country that time and also I have no PC or Internet to checkout, So I just started with University Physics 12th Ed. and After that this Berkeley. This is the same type Question most IPhO preparing student ask, If IPhO don't require calculus in solving their problems then why do show Calculus based Solutions.
P: 615
 Quote by bcrowell I haven't read Griffiths, but Griffiths is an upper-division book, Purcell lower-division.
At the school I went to, we used Purcell in the upper-division E&M course.
P: 93
 Quote by WannabeNewton The 3rd edition actually came out (either yesterday or today).
Does it still use the cgs system, or has it gone metric?
P: 53
 Quote by SredniVashtar Does it still use the cgs system, or has it gone metric?
New Editions comes in SI Units.I have 2nd Low Price Edition which is also in SI.
P: 93
 Quote by Snow-Leopard New Editions comes in SI Units.I have 2nd Low Price Edition which is also in SI.
Sorry, I meant SI, as you surmised.
I knew there was a catch in that bargain! I bought it used last year but it's in cgs (first edition, then). Valuable book nonetheless, as all the other volumes of the Berkeley Physics Course.

Perhaps there should be an entry for the whole set.
P: 93
 Quote by SredniVashtar Sorry, I meant SI
Actually I should have said (rationalized) MKS. And to be more accurate, my concern was actually about the use of the Gauss system of unit.
I know for sure that the first edition of Purcell uses k = 1 in the definition of the Coulomb force (please forgive the lack of subscripts, I believe it's clear what I am trying to say here)

F = q1 q2 / r^2

(a sample of Maxwell's equations for the first AND second edition:
div E = 4 π ρ, rot B = 1/c dE/dt + 4 π J / c)

while most modern em books use

F = 1/4 π ε q1 q2 / r^2,
div E = ρ/ε, rot B = 1/c^2 dE/dt + μ J

So, I was wondering, since I could buy the hardbound 3rd edition at a good price, in which unit system is it cast? Or, to make matter simpler, how are those maxwell's equations written?
 P: 93 Ok, I could not resist and I ordered it on Amazon (starting from the page in this forum, I hope the 6% transfer has worked all right). It arrived today and yes, the third edition does away with the gaussian units and is actually using a full feathered SI. That is, these are the equations it uses F = 1/4 π ε q1 q2 / r^2, div E = ρ/ε, rot B = 1/c^2 dE/dt + μ J(Not true for the second edition though).
PF Gold
P: 3,072
 Quote by micromass It's about the hardest E&M text for freshmen out there...
How do you reach that conclusion?

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