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Berkely Physics Course

  1. Jul 22, 2014 #1
    I was wondering how good is this series of books (in comparison with others of similar areas) for a physics career, specially vol 1 about mechanics. I found this books much more detailed and comprehensive than others, like feynman lectures for example. However, I'm just a freshman, and was seeking for opinions of more advanced physicists.
     
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  3. Jul 23, 2014 #2
    I'm currently an engineering physics student at UC Berkeley. We no longer use this series of textbook, except for volume 2, Electricity and Magnetism by Purcell & Morin. When I say "we" I'm referring to the Honors Physics Intro series of classes, of which I have taken 2.

    What I can tell you is what we currently use, which is An Introduction to Mechanics by Klepnner & Kolenkow as well as the Purcell & Morin text above. I can vouch for the both of these--they are stellar books. They really go into the logic of where equations come from in a much more enlightening manner than the likes of Giancoli's text (the text for standard Intro Physics series). From my experience talking with students from other universities, especially at schools with rigorous physics programs, it appears that these texts to be quite common. If you'd like recommendations for further reading, I'd be happy to oblige.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  4. Jul 23, 2014 #3

    Student100

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    Feynman lectures aren't really meant to be a textbook. So you shouldn't use that as any kind of yardstick to measure another text.

    Pixatlazaki mentions two good in-depth introductory texts.

    Going to report this so it can move to a more appropriate location.
     
  5. Jul 24, 2014 #4

    vanhees71

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    The Feynman lectures are execellent textbooks. I don't understand, why you say they aren't. Of course, they are no "freshmen texts" as they were intended originally. Particularly vol. II is very well written, particularly concerning subjects like Faraday's Law which are often obscure in more tranditional textbooks. Nearly the same I can say about vol. II of the Berkeley course.
     
  6. Jul 24, 2014 #5

    Student100

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    The Feynman lectures were never intended to be a textbook, it clearly states such in the preface. They lack things like real problem sets, which is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to really *understand* physics.

    It's a fine supplement to a textbook and a course on physics, but as a standalone is severely limited in its ability to teach physics.
     
  7. Jul 24, 2014 #6

    vanhees71

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    Hm, we agree to disagree.
     
  8. Jul 24, 2014 #7
    I started using Klepnner and Kolenkow text and I find it amazingly clarifying! I would use the same word you used to describe it, enlightening. I find every concept in this book much more clear and easily explained than in any other book. Thanks for sharing it with me, elemental mechanics looks much better now.
     
  9. Jul 24, 2014 #8
    Glad to help, paalfis! Once you finish it, for upper division mechanics, I would heartily recommend Classical Mechanics by Taylor. I think it to be even better than Kleppner and Kolenkow... but that's just my opinion. As for what to read after Purcell, it seems to me that Griffith's Introduction to Electrodynamics is the standard.
     
  10. Jul 24, 2014 #9

    bcrowell

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    The only book in the Berkeley Physics Course that was really special was Purcell. The first edition of Purcell was funded by an NSF grant, and as a condition of the grant, the book became free after a certain date. You can find copies of the first edition on the web. There is also a third edition by Purcell and Morin, which uses SI units and adds a lot of applications. If you can afford the price, I'd pick the third edition over the first, for those reasons.

    I have a copy of the Berkeley mechanics book, and it's fine, but nothing exceptional. It was produced by a large committee, so it lacks the clear individual voice of the Purcell book. One unusual thing about it was that it introduced special relativity alongside of Newtonian mechanics. This was necessary because Purcell's treatment of E&M assumed that the student already knew SR. Kleppner and Kolenkow is a good book.

    IIRC the Berkeley statistical mechanics book was fine, but may be alternatives that are just as good.
     
  11. Jul 24, 2014 #10
    It would be very helpful to have the solutions for the klepnner and kolenow problems. Are them available online anywhere for free or paid?
     
  12. Jul 25, 2014 #11

    bcrowell

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    As with any other textbook, the publisher doesn't make all of the solutions available to people who aren't instructors.
     
  13. Aug 17, 2014 #12
    Yeah, K&K and P&M are pretty awesome books.
     
  14. Aug 17, 2014 #13
    My professor recommended to use Resnick and Halliday's Physics Vol 1 and Paul Allen Tipler's Physics for scientist and engineers (not as widely known) as a second book. Personally, I find K&K more clarifying and well developed than both of them, K&K is just excellent. One little thing about it is that the problems, besides being VERY good, are not that many, or at least there are not as much problems as in Resnick's text.
    What do you think about this comparison?

    Oh, also I should say that I study physics, not engineering.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  15. Aug 18, 2014 #14
    Most colleges and universities do use books along the lines of Halliday and Resnick or Sears&Young and such even most of the really top ones (certainly for the non-physics major track sections, and often even for the physics/engineering tracks too). But it seems like some of the top ones here and there use stuff like K&K and Purcell instead for their physics track courses and it seems like just about all of the ones that have special honors sections of intro physics seem to use K&K + Purcell types of books instead of the Halliday or the regular intro books.

    I agree with your initial thoughts on K&K compared to the first two you mention (as well as the others of that type).
    Nothing stops you from doing some of the Resnick problems too or glancing over there if you feel the need when K&K doesn't have enough.
    Oh you could also look at the Morin Mechanics book that has tons of problems and that is another that is often used as a supplement in honors type track courses or some of the regular physics major track courses at the schools most known for being tops of the tops for undergrad physics.

    if you can manage those books, they do seem, as you say more clarifying and better put together in some ways and don't seem to hide away some of the calc at the start off in disjointed ways and just directly use it full force, first thing to make things most clear.
     
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