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Best physics books

  1. Oct 26, 2006 #1
    I thought this would be a good place to ask for your opinions on some of the best physics books youve read. Stephen Hawking?
    What some other more theoretical writings, like Newtons or Einsteins works for example?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2006 #2
    I think it would be better if you specified which branch of physics and "best" in which sense.
  4. Oct 26, 2006 #3
    There already are some threads on this subject under Academic Guidance -> Science Book Reviews (the database seems to be freaking out right now, though.)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2006
  5. Oct 27, 2006 #4
    Textbooks. Don't waste your time with popular books.
  6. Oct 27, 2006 #5
    I think "An Introduction to Mechanics" by Kleppner is good.
  7. Oct 27, 2006 #6
    Ridley, Space, Time and Things. Useful pop-sci discussion of
    some fundamental physical concepts.

    Feynman Lectures on Physics

    Schwartz, Principles of Electrodynamics. I took the usual
    Jackson course, but this is where I really learned E&M.

    Fermi, Thermodynamics. And this is the one that really taught
    me thermo.

    French, Newtonian Mechanics

    Taylor & Wheeler, Spacetime Physics. (The old red paperback
    edition that had all the problems worked out in the back.)

    Rindler, Relativity: Special, General, Cosmological. Really
    strong on intuition. A bit weak on tensors.

    Ohanian, Gravitation and Spacetime. He works out the
    linearized equations for GR based on heuristic arguments, allowing him
    to cover a lot of physics before dumping Riemannian geometry in your

    Mermin, Space and Time in Special Relativity. He rewrote this
    as It's About Time.

    Fowles, Analytical Mechanics, 3rd ed.. I really liked the uncomplicated
    approach when using this for background reading in my graduate
    mechanics course.

    Landau & Lifschitz, Mechanics. Elegant as always. The book to
    remind you that classical mechanics is beautiful, not just a grind.

    Gasiorowicz, Quantum Physics. This was my undergrad text, so
    there may be an element of nostalgia here. Reviewing it now, I like
    the no-nonsense approach, find it very strong on showing you how to do
    calculations, but perhaps a little weak on stressing some
    fundamentals (they're there, but would probably slide past the uninitiated).

    Schwinger, Quantum Mechanics: Symbolism of Atomic Measurements.
    An amazing book. He works out the algebra of the Dirac formalism
    inductively using Stern-Gerlach type experiments. This gives you a
    strong feeling for the physical meaning of the mathematics. And
    that's just the first 80 pages or so, there's lots of fascinating
    stuff here. He also works out all the calculations in great detail.
    I'm sure it would have been even better if Schwinger had lived to
    finish it himself, but it's still very readable.

    Spiegel, Mathematical Handbook. Everyone needs this.
  8. Oct 27, 2006 #7
    Terrible book. Half it is put online, and it's absolutely gaunt compared to other more comprehensive texts. Completely glosses over many fundamental derivations. Avoid at all costs.
  9. Oct 27, 2006 #8
    It's not too popular on Amazon, either. Oh, well. I still like it for my own review (this is the first edition, by the way; I haven't seen the later editions).

    If I were teaching undergrad QM, I'd probably use Shankar.

    Another book I forgot to mention was

    Chester, Primer of Quantum Mechanics, which does a really nice job explaining the meaning of the Dirac formalism.
  10. Oct 27, 2006 #9
    I think Einstein 1905 by John S. Rigden was good =/ even if it is just an outline of what einstein accomplished in 1905, its not very complex so its good for the less educated, like me
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