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Best Textbook on Electromagnetics

  1. Oct 30, 2017 #21
    Do you really think so? I think for L&L it especially depends on personal taste. Russian books have a very unique style and in my opinion not everyone can grasp their points. Whether you love or you hate L&L-series. (in some way this holds also for Weinberg's books) Maybe these books are best suited for experienced physicists, not really for undergrads.
    [Just my personal opinion]
     
  2. Nov 3, 2017 #22
    Thank you everyone for keeping this thread going.

    @Buffu: My studies presently cover these topics; hence, the curiosity.

    @Moayd Shagaf: Thanks, I'll try to review Purcell next.

    See my next post on Griffiths.

    @vanhees71: Intrigued. Much intrigued.

    Thanks for the Purcell caution. And I do believe I've a Schwartz in my list above; hoping it's the same one.
     
  3. Nov 3, 2017 #23
    Taking this opportunity to continue the face-off...my next author is Griffiths.

    Introduction to Electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths (4th ed. - Kindle edition)

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    The author, instead of stating the next step, cosiderately furnishes a reason for the next step. Decoupling is the keyword for me and my key takeaway. The "Taking the curl of..." approach is thoughtfully open-circuited.

    IMG_4113.png


    I prefer Griffiths approach because he begins the section on Poynting Theorem by defining the total energy stored in EM fields. This approach contrasts cheerfully in comparison with efforts that jump right into the dot products & cross product mechanids of it all.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  4. Nov 3, 2017 #24
    I second @vanhees71 and @atyy, I also find Purcell unreadable and I don't recommend it.
     
  5. Nov 19, 2017 #25
    Electricity and Magnetism by Edward M. Purcell (2nd ed.)

    1.png


    1) the general wave equation from Maxwell's equation

    Although Purcell does not derive the wave equations, per se, I find his conversational style of writing much more paletable than my assigned textbook. The chapter on electromagnetic waves reads like the Mumbai breeze in October.

    I know I am in concert with atleast Smodak and Maoyd Shagaf on that front.

    Above comment is limited just to the readability aspect of the book and not on its technical underpinnings, whose critique I understand vanhees71, atyy et. al. to be.

    2) Poynting vector from Maxwell's equations

    I have been unsuccessful in locating this topic in Purcell.
     
  6. Nov 20, 2017 #26

    vanhees71

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    Purcell is very confusing. If you want the relativity-first approach, better read Schwartz, Principle of Electrodynamics.
     
  7. Nov 27, 2017 #27
    "They say: 'Look, these differential equations—the Maxwell equations—are all there is to electrodynamics; it is admitted by the physicists that there is nothing which is not contained in the equations. The equations are complicated, but after all they are only mathematical equations and if I understand them mathematically inside out, I will understand the physics inside out.' Only it doesn’t work that way. Mathematicians who study physics with that point of view—and there have been many of them—usually make little contribution to physics and, in fact, little to mathematics."

    ~The Man Himself
     
  8. Nov 28, 2017 #28

    Demystifier

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    I would like to see what mathematical physicists, such as @Urs Schreiber , have to say about that Feynman's quote. :wink:
     
  9. Nov 28, 2017 #29

    Urs Schreiber

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    I like to caution against this habit of dividing people studying field theory into camps (such as theoretic physicists, mathematical physicists, mathematicans studying physics) and then declaring what people in the camps do or do not understand; this seems misguided and alien to the nature of scientific investigation. There is the unique subject of quantum field theory, and we need all the tools and all the heuristics that we can get hold of to understand it. The implicit suggestion of many of these arguments that a theoretical physicists is somebody who should not be bothered with trying to understand what they are doing is not helping the field.
     
  10. Nov 28, 2017 #30

    Demystifier

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    I agree, but I would add also philosophers of physics to your camp list. They also contribute to full understanding of "what theoretical physicists do".
     
  11. Nov 28, 2017 #31

    Urs Schreiber

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    For what it's worth, I argued for not considering any such list of camps. Maybe academic bureaucracy forces researchers to pretend being part of a camp, but for the sake of science, one should try to transcend this. Certainly one should try to not further amplify it.
     
  12. Nov 28, 2017 #32

    Demystifier

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    Well, even if we do not call them "camps", it is certainly true that there are different styles of reasoning in physics. Some are more phenomenological than others, some are more mathematical than others, some are more philosophical than others, etc. Since each style has its advantages and disadvantages, it is wise to foster them all.
     
  13. Nov 28, 2017 #33

    vanhees71

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    Well, here I object. All that philosophers do is to confuse the physics. One should have a clear no-nonsense approach, which forbids philosophical gibberish to enter the scientific debate. Urs is of course right. From the more angles you study QFT (and as a prerequesite also classical FT, i.e., classical electrodynamics and General Relativity) the better you can understand it. I've still to learn all these methods of the axiomatic QFT community yet. So I'm very sure to not have understood QFT as well as it's possible to understand it, but for sure there's nothing philosophy can add to understanding any physics, and mathematics is not philosophy but according to a newer classification of the sciences belongs, together with informatics, to what's called a "structural science".
     
  14. Nov 29, 2017 #34

    Demystifier

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    I am not talking of philosophers as such. I am talking of physicists who attack physics problems from a philosophical point of view. A great example is Bell (who in the particle-physics community is best known for ABJ anomaly), whose philosophical point of view led him to Bell inequalities and Bell theorem.
     
  15. Nov 29, 2017 #35
    In the few months I had the opportunity to spend at M.I.T. undertaking undergrad courses, I saw engineers-to-be of great caliber having to undertake a philosophy course on 'Minds & Machines'.

    It confused & frustrated the Jesus out of some of them, with the class witnessing great talents giving up exasperated at all the twin-Earth nonsense.

    But I recognised the brightest kid in class to possess the malleability of mind to straddle laughingly through the brick-meets-mortar world of Newtonian mechanics as well as he did through the world of thought experiments that that course in philosophy of minds & machines entailed.

    This was way back in 2006, but I've held on to the image of that brilliant kid who sat, always smiling, on the front row seat.
     
  16. Nov 29, 2017 #36
    The Classical Theory of Fields by Landau & Lifshitz (3rd ed.)

    View attachment 215809


    This book was reviewed on Smodak's suggestion. And his opinion stands tall - it speaks at a slightly higher level than other suggestions I've reviewed so far. At the very least, the wave equations he derives have little semblance to the more elementary representation I've come to recognise.

    Even so, the author engages the reader in a conversation, and it's not one with a didactic tone. In so far as that goes, Landau out-does my initial concern of a text that is the raison d'etre of this thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  17. Nov 29, 2017 #37

    vanhees71

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    Well, for me Bell's greatest achievement in this part of his work was to clearly formulate a scientific question to be answered by an experiment which is to some extent related to the gibberish philosophers (including some philospher physicists like Bohr and Heisenberg) made concerning the apparent "problems of quantum theory", which in fact are no problems but features. To be sure about the latter Bell's theoretical work paved the way to the experimental confirmation in the following decades, including experimental results of an amazing statistical significance. I'd say, today QT is the physical theory with the highest significance of its empirical confirmation.
     
  18. Nov 29, 2017 #38

    vanhees71

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    Hm, why should one give up to study engineering only because of some stupid philosophy course? You listen to it, pass the exam and forget about it as soon as possible ;-). That's it.
     
  19. Nov 30, 2017 #39

    Demystifier

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    If we accept the Kuhn's difference between normal science and paradigm-shift science, I would say that philosophy is quite useless in normal science, but very important in paradigm-shift science. So you are right, normal scientists don't need philosophy. :wink:
    On the other hand, Bohr, Heisenberg, and to some extent Bell, were paradigm-shift scientists. (If you are not sure about Bell, I can explain.)
     
  20. Nov 30, 2017 #40

    vanhees71

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    Well, Kuhn's ideas in my opinion are valid for the rare exceptions, where really a big breakthrough is reached or necessary by empirical facts. In the young history of modern physics this happened 3 times: The step from Aristotelian physics to Galilei-Newtonian mechanics; the discovery of the relativistic spacetime structure (special and general relativity); the discovery of quantum theory. The bulk work of physicists in pure research is the application of well-established models and theories to describe concrete cases, e.g., using QT in solid-state physics to understand, from first principles or via effective models, the properties of the matter around us (reaching from transport coefficients like viscosity or electric conductivity to phase transitions and so on).

    The physical theories on a fundamental level are amazingly stable, and paradigm shifts happen very rarely (perhaps at most once in a century). What phillosophers describe is often far from reality, and that's also the case in their analysis of how research works. Another example is Popper. Of course, he is right in saying that you can never empirical prove anything but falsify predictions of theories. However, practice shows that one rather very often a model or theory gets "empirically confirmed", even when physicists are struggling to find a contradiction (e.g., with the Standard Model of elementary particle physics, which is too successful at the moment to bring the long-expected breakthrough in physics beyond the Standard Model, motivated by finding the way to cure some of its intrinsic shortcomings like the fine-tuning/hierarchy problems; the nature of dark matter, if there is any after all, etc. etc.).
     
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