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Best Physics Book

  1. Aug 18, 2012 #1

    Does anyone know of a Physics textbook that covers a very broad range of topics from basic to graduate level, contains detailed explanations, and perhaps exercises (although this latter is not necessary)? Hence, a complete Physics textbook, like what "Engineering Mathematics" is to Mathematics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2012 #2
    I can't say for sure, but I doubt that books exists as it would be about 10,000 pages long.

    I don't know of any non-mathematical methods book that covers topics from basic physics to graduate level, let alone in any appreciable amount of detail.
  4. Aug 18, 2012 #3
    It's not necessary that it be non-mathematical. I can't imagine the subject could be explained very well without mathematics, but it would be preferred to have detailed discussions of each topic.
  5. Aug 18, 2012 #4
    No, I meant I do not know of any books that are not 'Mathematical methods of...' that discuss such a range of topics over such a level of detail.
  6. Aug 18, 2012 #5
    u could go through feymann's lectures. its typically university level and covers and wide range of topics with decent explanations.
    though for high school level (ie basic physics) i recommend physics by giancoli, again wide range and excellent explanations.
    im not sure about graduate level, i think almost every graduate level textbook specializes in a particular aspect (eg classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism).
    so u could get all of the above and glue them together into the "super textbook" you were talking about :P
  7. Aug 18, 2012 #6

    George Jones

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    I don't understand this statement. "Engineering Mathematics" comprises a very small subset of mathematics.
  8. Aug 18, 2012 #7
    It covers a wide range of areas of mathematics, especially paired with Advanced Engineering Mathematics (the continuation of the book).

    Feynman lectures seem to be the closest thing to what I would like, but I was hoping for something like University Physics with Modern Physics, but better.
  9. Aug 18, 2012 #8
    Sorry, I meant up to but not including graduate level. So it covers everything from high school up to the end of one's undergraduate degree.
  10. Aug 18, 2012 #9
    So, in essence your looking for a book that covers the entirety of the standard physics curriculum?

    Now that your question has been boiled dow, can you see how preposterous it is?
  11. Aug 18, 2012 #10
    No, I cannot.
  12. Aug 18, 2012 #11
    In the course of getting a degree, one uses an intro book, an UD e&M book, classical mechanics, statistical physics, quantum mechanics + probably 2-5 more books based on a persons individual courses.

    There is no book which covers all that.

    It would be like printing the entire Landau and lifgarbagez series as 1 book.
  13. Aug 18, 2012 #12
    Well it may be printed in several volumes. Anyway, judging by the replies I will take the answer to my question as "no".
  14. Aug 18, 2012 #13

    George Jones

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    Even so, this is just a small part of mathematics.

    What about real analysis? Functional analysis? Abstract algebra? Representation theory? Differential geometry? Algebraic geometry? Number theory? Category theory? Mathematical logic? Etc.

    If you are looking for "required text" that is to physics as "Engineering Mathematics" is to mathematics, then you are looking for a physics book that covers a small part of physics.
  15. Aug 18, 2012 #14
    well... I suppose if you had finished an UG curriculum in physics then there would be the L&L series, but for undergraduate, I do not know of one.

    Is money the issue? If not, we could suggest a number of good text books to learn the subject.
  16. Aug 19, 2012 #15
    The Feynman Lectures on Physics, no question. There are drawbacks to them (lacking in worked examples, lacking in problems, sometimes more supplemental rather than primary, lacking in some topics important topics, etc.), but of course these are amazing must reads at some point in your career anyway and are as comprehensive and in this "class of books" that you have described as any.
  17. Aug 19, 2012 #16
    Money is to some extent an issue, but it would be nice to know books which you recommend. When I see the prices I'll determine how much of an issue it is :)
  18. Aug 19, 2012 #17
    Some may argue that his lectures aren't suitable for beginners to physics? Would you agree? I wish to start from the beginning. His lectures are certainly on my list, having read the first few pages of the first book I found the book very compelling.
  19. Aug 19, 2012 #18
    then go through high school physics first, again i recommend giancoli. starting from there do calculus based textbooks
  20. Aug 19, 2012 #19
    I think if you learned these five books well, you have a very solid grounding in physics and would have plenty of freedom in what you could learn later.

    'Arbitrary Intro book'

    'Classical Mechanics' by Taylor
    'Introduction to Electrodynamics' by Griffiths
    'Introduction to Thermal Physics' by Schroeder
    'Quantum Mechanics ...' by Zetilli

    But! If you don't know introductory physics fairly well yet, do that first.
  21. Aug 19, 2012 #20
    They do start from the beginning, but people say that (and I agree with them) because they are so difficult intellectually, there is a slightly strange order to the material that can be off-putting to the beginner - but it's all there. There are the problems with them that I already mentioned, and I would elaborate further, but honestly a quite long discussion could be had about this. However, the Feynman Lectures are so profound that I would fell odd if I didn't repeat one last point because up until now it seems like I've largely insulted them - they're one of the best physics textbooks ever written. A truly amazing and unique experience to get standard undergraduate physics from one of the greatest physicists of all time (indeed legend goes that part of the reason why Feynman agreed to write the undergraduate lecture series is because to his knowledge no previous giant in physics had written a comprehensive lecture series like the Feynman Lectures.)

    Anyways, if you are just beginning physics (and know basic Cal 1/2 differential and integral calculus), I would recommend a standard university physics book that is cal based instead of the Feynman Lectures (the Feynman Lectures simply satisfy the kind of book you created this thread for, they're just really difficult..) And as many have said, these [generic university physics] books are largely equivalent, and having worked as an undergraduate physics tutor for a while and reading various university textbooks that were lying around because I was always bored, they are all largely the same (save one book trying - and somewhat succeeding on those boring afternoons heh - to be more "entertaining" by occasionally giving "interesting" "everyday" situations in which the physics topics contained showed up in everyday life.. Such as the infrared sensing gland that causes a strike reflex in rattlesnakes...) I was actually somewhat surprised. How they can charge 200$ for these books baffles me. A very very big tip would be to buy a slightly older edition of a university physics book at a much lower price as somebody mentioned previously.
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