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Best conceptual physics book for High Schoolers?

  1. May 8, 2013 #1
    I am not sure if this belongs here (My first post), and please move it or delete if need be.

    I am only a high schooler, with basic algebra/precalc knowledge moving to Calc BC next year along with Physics C. I do not want any of the prep book mumbo jumbo. I just want a physics books that clearly helps with the concepts and delivers them to me in a understandable manner. Much like Calculus Lifesaver by Princeton University professor Adrian Banner if any of you are familiar with that. I am hoping the wonderful physics community here might have some knowledge in the type of book I am looking for.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2013 #2
    You're looking for a physics books that doesn't use calculus. In my opinion, most of those books are rubbish. It would be much easier for you to learn calculus first. Then you can do physics the right way. You won't even need much calculus. Just Calculus I and a bit of knowledge about integrals is enough.

    I hope people will post some nice suggestions here, cause I would be very interested in seeing them. But I fear that most books will be crap like Giancoli.
  4. May 8, 2013 #3
    FLP. Enough Said. :)

  5. May 8, 2013 #4


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    There does exist a book called Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt.

    According to Wikipedia:
    Some high schools in the US use a "Physics First" sequence of physics-chemistry-biology during the first 3 years. The problem with this is high school freshmen usually don't have the math to take physics first, so in many cases the physics classes are "conceptual," with the idea that these students would take a more "meatier" physics course (be it algebra-based, calculus-based, AP, non-AP, whatever) during their senior year.
  6. May 8, 2013 #5
    I remember reading Hewitt's book way back when and even "inherited" a 20+ volume lecture series of the same name, based on a class he taught at UHawaii. Great fun, great gee whiz stuff, inspiring lecturer, but at the end of the day you're really left with little of any usefulness or value, in my opinion. Physics, much more than any other scientific discipline I've studied, is as much about the math as it is about the physics. They're inseperable in a way. So to learn it "conceptually" by eschewing the maths is really missing the point. I suggest you take Micromass's advice or you're just going to have to learn the same thing twice, if you get that far. Take it from someone who already made that mistake.
  7. May 8, 2013 #6
    The reason I want to learn it conceptually is that I learned that if the teacher is inadequate at teaching a subject properly, the student tends to begin to loath it. I want to love physics, but the reputation of my schools Physics C teacher is very poor. I just want something to parallel the lectures so I can grasp the concepts so then I have an easier time translating it to the math. I want to know whats really going on rather than plugging and chugging equations, and avoid learning how to do the problems without learning the physics. Am I making sense?

    But even when I say I want a conceptual physics book, I do not mean that keep the math completely away. I WANT to learn the math behind it. But I want it to give it to me in a manner that is easily understandable. I often have trouble understanding hardcore textbook type material.
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  8. May 8, 2013 #7
    are you from india?
  9. May 9, 2013 #8
    No, the US.
  10. May 9, 2013 #9
    Oh! Because I knew some books by indian authors which are really useful for introductory physics...
  11. Nov 21, 2014 #10
    Six easy pieces...Richard Feynman.
    Understanding Physics...Asimov
    Physics of the superheroes...James Kakalios. ( Not your conventional physics book but an informative and fun read )

    Quantitative learning without qualitative ( deep-intuitive understanding of the subject is useless ). More than quite a freshman or sophomore students might not be even able to answer questions like why sky is blue etc.

    Here is a great piece by Sanjoy Mahajan... ( A theoretical physicist from Caltech, and an associate professor at MIT)

  12. Nov 23, 2014 #11
    Basically anything by Feynman would be good to pick up. I started with some of his "conceptual" books and then just ended up grabbing his 3 volume Lectures on Physics. These are available free online if you want, they do use calculus but they have been a beneficial source for the exact reason that you are looking for. They give a mathematical and conceptual understanding any topic you will encounter in all of AP Physics, and probably even the first 3-4 semesters of undergrad.
  13. Nov 25, 2014 #12
    try light and matter by Ben Crowell that is optional calculus-based.http://www.lightandmatter.com/lm/
    that is free.I have been to want to find a physicstextbook that explain concepts well and apply the concepts to explain phenomena.(if such phenomena is more about your life,you will feel more happy when you understand the explanation for them) I thought for the same phenomena the explanation more concise then the explanation superior.now I am reading light and matter that is for my taste. I also reading another physicstextbooks.but for now first recommend light and matter..
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