A relearning experience - self study edition

  • Classical
  • Thread starter phish21
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Physics
  • #1
phish21
3
1
Hi,
I graduated with an undergraduate degree in physics 16 years ago, and I would like to go back and relearn all that great knowledge that I forgot. I was thinking of the following series of books.

-Do you recommend changing the order in which I go through them?
-Do you recommend adding a book in a certain location in order to fill some gap in knowledge before hitting the next step?
-Do you recommend switching one title out for another which is a better book to self-study from?

Thanks!

1 - Newtonian Mechanics - French
1a - Calculus - Strang
2 - Intro to Mechanics - Kleppner
3 - The Feynman Lectures 1
3a - Ordinary Differential Equations - Tenenbaum
4 - Vibrations and Waves - French
5 - Fundamentals of Electricty and Magnetism - Kip
6 - Electricity and Magnetism - Purcell
7 - The Feynman Lectures 2
7a - Intro to Linear Algebra -Strang
8 - The physics of waves -Georgi
9 - Special Relativity - Faraoni
10 - The Feynman Lectures 3
11 - Principles of Quantum Mechanics 2e - Shankar - just the intro math sections
12 - Quantum Mechanics - A Paradigm Approach - McIntyre
13 - finish Shankar
14 - A First Course in General Relativity 2e - Schutz

Thanks!
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
That list is overkill. I would suggest starting with your junior mechanics, EM and QM books and see where you are after that.
 
  • Like
Likes PhDeezNutz, pinball1970 and weirdoguy
  • #3
Cancel 6 and substitute it with

M. Schwartz, Principles of Electrodynamics, Dover (1972)

He's also following the "relativity-first approach" but in a much clearer way than Purcell. Its only drawback is the use of the ##\mathrm{i} c t## convention...

The best "relativity-first" electrodynamics textbook is Landau&Lifshitz vol. 2, but that's at a more advanced level.
 
  • #4
As a person who has done dozens of such to-read lists, I have an advice - don't waste your time on making them. Just start reading first book on the list and see where it leads you.
 
  • Like
  • Love
Likes ateixeira, pinball1970, Falgun and 4 others
  • #5
Why don't you start with the books you already have from college?
 
  • Like
Likes PhDeezNutz, pinball1970 and vanhees71
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
Why don't you start with the books you already have from college?
When you're having a middle-age crisis you buy a new set of wheels, not go driving your 20 year old nugget. You don't start dating the girl you knew in college. You date a girl currently in college.
 
  • Haha
  • Like
  • Love
Likes PhDeezNutz, ateixeira, Demystifier and 3 others
  • #7
Bandersnatch said:
You date a girl currently in college.
I'm not going to touch that.
 
  • #8
I don't know. I'd like to have my old car back, and my old girlfriend, too. Maybe with a milder cam, given today's gas prices.
gto.png
 
  • Wow
Likes berkeman
  • #9
I'd suggest you consolidate all your Math books into a single book on Advanced Calculus. There are plenty of good free(legit) ones out there. Edit: Unless you have some specialized areas in mind.
 
  • #10
marcusl said:
I don't know. I'd like to have my old car back, and my old girlfriend, too. Maybe with a milder cam, given today's gas prices.View attachment 332123
Marcusl wants to go back to being a highway star! ;).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Love
Likes pinball1970
  • #11
Vanadium 50 said:
I'm not going to touch that.
No touching allowed on first dates.
 
  • Haha
  • Like
Likes PhDeezNutz and pinball1970
  • #12
Hello,

I've been reading this forum for about a year and a half but this original post got me to actually register to comment...

I apologize in advance for the long post!

I'm very much in the OP's situation - only about 1.5 years ahead. For context: I graduated ~20 years ago with physics and math from Chicago. Life took me a different direction and I didn't go to grad school like most of my peers. I'm very happy with my career, family etc. but always had a desire to crack open the old books again... I guess my mid-life crises has been to relearn physics!

I started off doing what most here have advised: just jump in using your college physics textbooks and start off a bit more advanced and you'll pick it up fast. This sounds like good advice, but I found it did not work. I underestimated how much my math skills had atrophied. I then went to my freshman mechanics text (Kleppner) and it was VERY slow going ... due to having to learn the math at the same time. I then downgraded to an old Resnick, Halliday and Krane (Physics, 4th ed). That was going well but even here, problems like moments of inertia etc. were forcing me to focus more on math than the physics of the situation.

I then decided that 1. I was in no rush and 2. why not just learn the math first. This way, I could focus on the physics when it was time to do the physics. Your math skills might have stayer higher than mine so maybe this approach isn't the best for you... but it is what is working for me.

So, I went WAY back. Focused on Algebra then Trigonometry (both went quickly). Then picked up an old Calc textbook and worked my way through it (did basically all the problems). Then went to Lang's Calc of Several Variables (once again, doing most of the problems). I also put on Trefnor Bazett's youtube courses while I was driving places (Calc I-IV, Lin Alg, ODE).

I had to take a bit of a break due to work / life for a couple of months. When I came back to it, I realized that even with all the work, I was still not quite as strong in calc as I'd like so I picked up Ginzburg's Calculus Problems and Solutions (did most of the problems). I then spent a week or two reviewing / doing target problems from Lang's book again.

I'm now working my way through Tenenbaum and Pollard's Ordinary Differential Equations. I'll probably go back to Kleppner after ODE but might spend some time on complex analysis first.

There isn't really a way given the time constraints of college to have a deep math foundation before doing the physics work, but if you remove that constraint, why not approach it this way? I find that learning the math is actually getting me to remember physics use cases which both makes learning the math easier as well as building physical intuition again.

I could be completely wrong but I'm hoping that re-building the solid math foundation will allow me to go through the physics much faster with greater insight (since I wouldn't be focused on the math side as much).

Just by 2 cents!
 
  • Like
  • Love
Likes WWGD, andresB, pinball1970 and 2 others
  • #13

Since you did know physics at one time, I would recommend​

Theoretical Physics (Dover Books on Physics) Paperback​

by Joos. I used that book (first edition) to teach all of physics to good engineering undergraduates.
There is no other book like it. After going through it, you could follow any other, more advanced, book.
I used the first edition. If they haven't ruined it by the third edition, it would still be my recommendation.
 
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes vanhees71, pinball1970 and phish21
  • #14
I am a 29 year old man and I am in a re-learning process too. I have a degree in physics but I didn't continue studying like my peers. I would liked to have follow with a master but nowadays it's not economically possible for me. I made a little list of subjects in which I pretend to update my knowledges. I am a worker in a factory and I am combining workdays and the lectures of the books and the realization of exercises.

I think, as somebody has already noted, that a list of "must to read" is utterly useless.
You, and me, have probably forgot a lot of things: vectorial identities, jacobian matrix, Hamilton's equations, how to solve Sch-eq to find the wave functions, and so on. Definitely, a lot of mathematical skills and a lot of physics knowledge have been dispelled. I am only going to write what I am applying to me.
1) I forget of "running". Now I am not like a car able to overtake another.
I am an agricultural tractor: 7-8mph.
2) I started by refreshing my mathematical basis before the physics one.
3) I have several books of maths but I am focused in one each time.
4) There is (or was because I don't find it) a thread in the forum, which said something like: "How to self-study mathematics" in which are related very interesting tips, for my taste, for the self-learning of mathematics. They also apply to physics.

5) My little program includes:
i) A basic mathematical review: one variable calculus, multivariable calculus, complex analysis.
ii) Advanced mathematical basis: tensor analysis, Hilbert spaces and applications.
iii) Review on EM and classical electrodynamics
iv) Review on QM

6) I am not going to cite any book, although if you wish I can write a short list of the ones I used and currently use.
I know there is some consensus in the community about the suitability of certain books/authors and I agree to some extent but I think monograph/author and reader should be one in the learning process. We are not all the same nor does the same form of exposure work for us.
 
  • #15
Besides, there's something to be said for " passive studying", meaning just reading answers here in PF. It may be the best you can do at times.
 
Last edited:
  • #16
PhysicsRelearner said:
Hello,

I've been reading this forum for about a year and a half but this original post got me to actually register to comment...

I apologize in advance for the long post!

I'm very much in the OP's situation - only about 1.5 years ahead. For context: I graduated ~20 years ago with physics and math from Chicago. Life took me a different direction and I didn't go to grad school like most of my peers. I'm very happy with my career, family etc. but always had a desire to crack open the old books again... I guess my mid-life crises has been to relearn physics!

I started off doing what most here have advised: just jump in using your college physics textbooks and start off a bit more advanced and you'll pick it up fast. This sounds like good advice, but I found it did not work. I underestimated how much my math skills had atrophied. I then went to my freshman mechanics text (Kleppner) and it was VERY slow going ... due to having to learn the math at the same time. I then downgraded to an old Resnick, Halliday and Krane (Physics, 4th ed). That was going well but even here, problems like moments of inertia etc. were forcing me to focus more on math than the physics of the situation.

I then decided that 1. I was in no rush and 2. why not just learn the math first. This way, I could focus on the physics when it was time to do the physics. Your math skills might have stayer higher than mine so maybe this approach isn't the best for you... but it is what is working for me.

So, I went WAY back. Focused on Algebra then Trigonometry (both went quickly). Then picked up an old Calc textbook and worked my way through it (did basically all the problems). Then went to Lang's Calc of Several Variables (once again, doing most of the problems). I also put on Trefnor Bazett's youtube courses while I was driving places (Calc I-IV, Lin Alg, ODE).

I had to take a bit of a break due to work / life for a couple of months. When I came back to it, I realized that even with all the work, I was still not quite as strong in calc as I'd like so I picked up Ginzburg's Calculus Problems and Solutions (did most of the problems). I then spent a week or two reviewing / doing target problems from Lang's book again.

I'm now working my way through Tenenbaum and Pollard's Ordinary Differential Equations. I'll probably go back to Kleppner after ODE but might spend some time on complex analysis first.

There isn't really a way given the time constraints of college to have a deep math foundation before doing the physics work, but if you remove that constraint, why not approach it this way? I find that learning the math is actually getting me to remember physics use cases which both makes learning the math easier as well as building physical intuition again.

I could be completely wrong but I'm hoping that re-building the solid math foundation will allow me to go through the physics much faster with greater insight (since I wouldn't be focused on the math side as much).

Just by 2 cents!
I think that I am in a similar situation to yours and the OP. Just like I had underestimated how much my skills had rusted and how much more difficult it is to relearn the math than to relearn the physics. Also back in the days I was really good at math and always felt that it helped me better understand the physics.

Anyway recently I decided to get back at physics and do a PhD. To do that I created a plan (sidenote: even though I understand the sentiment that just choose a book and go with it, I also see why people feeling that selecting the right book is essential) and I have a few books to get me into shape.

But understanding that not everybody might want to do a PhD like me here my book recommendations for the lost ones that want to once again find their way (just like I want to find my way).

These books are all from two authors and they really stress the connections between math and physics and the Choi books are really good in general, but one thing in particular that is really good is that he really is detailed on almost all calculations and derivations provided:

  1. Tai L. Chow
    1. Classical Mechanics
    2. Introduction To Electromagnetic Theory A Modern Perspective
    3. Mathematical Methods for Physicists: A concise Introduction
  2. Sadri Hassani
    1. Mathematical Methods for Students 2nd Edition
    2. Mathematical Physics a Modern Introduction to its Foundations (more advanced)
Here I am missing statistical/thermal physics and quantum mechanics, but with these books you are then easily prepared any other book.

In terms of reading order my advice is for you to read Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods for Physicists: A concise Introduction at the same time, then move on to electomagnestim and then to Sadri Hassani, You will see that when you get to the third book you will be even skimming and skipping sections because you already know the content very well.

Best of luck to all of that are doing our second passage in Physics
 
  • #17
PhysicsRelearner said:
Hello,

I've been reading this forum for about a year and a half but this original post got me to actually register to comment...

I apologize in advance for the long post!

I'm very much in the OP's situation - only about 1.5 years ahead. For context: I graduated ~20 years ago with physics and math from Chicago. Life took me a different direction and I didn't go to grad school like most of my peers. I'm very happy with my career, family etc. but always had a desire to crack open the old books again... I guess my mid-life crises has been to relearn physics!

I started off doing what most here have advised: just jump in using your college physics textbooks and start off a bit more advanced and you'll pick it up fast. This sounds like good advice, but I found it did not work. I underestimated how much my math skills had atrophied. I then went to my freshman mechanics text (Kleppner) and it was VERY slow going ... due to having to learn the math at the same time. I then downgraded to an old Resnick, Halliday and Krane (Physics, 4th ed). That was going well but even here, problems like moments of inertia etc. were forcing me to focus more on math than the physics of the situation.

I then decided that 1. I was in no rush and 2. why not just learn the math first. This way, I could focus on the physics when it was time to do the physics. Your math skills might have stayer higher than mine so maybe this approach isn't the best for you... but it is what is working for me.

So, I went WAY back. Focused on Algebra then Trigonometry (both went quickly). Then picked up an old Calc textbook and worked my way through it (did basically all the problems). Then went to Lang's Calc of Several Variables (once again, doing most of the problems). I also put on Trefnor Bazett's youtube courses while I was driving places (Calc I-IV, Lin Alg, ODE).

I had to take a bit of a break due to work / life for a couple of months. When I came back to it, I realized that even with all the work, I was still not quite as strong in calc as I'd like so I picked up Ginzburg's Calculus Problems and Solutions (did most of the problems). I then spent a week or two reviewing / doing target problems from Lang's book again.

I'm now working my way through Tenenbaum and Pollard's Ordinary Differential Equations. I'll probably go back to Kleppner after ODE but might spend some time on complex analysis first.

There isn't really a way given the time constraints of college to have a deep math foundation before doing the physics work, but if you remove that constraint, why not approach it this way? I find that learning the math is actually getting me to remember physics use cases which both makes learning the math easier as well as building physical intuition again.

I could be completely wrong but I'm hoping that re-building the solid math foundation will allow me to go through the physics much faster with greater insight (since I wouldn't be focused on the math side as much).

Just by 2 cents!
Welcome to ( posting in) PF! A home run on your post bodes well for you, us, your contribution.
 

Similar threads

  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
14
Views
3K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
3
Views
132
  • STEM Academic Advising
2
Replies
49
Views
4K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
13
Views
3K
Back
Top