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Book advice

  1. May 9, 2006 #1
    Hi new here, I'm getting into this field of theoretical physics, and I have a goal to read several books over the summer. Currently reading Brief History of Time I guess because of its popularity. here is the list

    A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
    Hyperspace by Michio Kaku
    Relativity: The Special and The General Theory by Albert Einstein
    The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
    The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
    The Universe and Multiple reality M.R. Franks
    The Road To Reality by Roger Penrose

    question is, should I read Einstein's book first before going after the others or does it even matter at all?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2006 #2


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    What is your understanding of physics? Have you completed high school physics yet? Leave Penrose and Einstein's books last, you probably won't understand them very well. Keep in mind these are mostly popularized physics books, not like physics textbooks. Very entertaining selection though. Have you already bought all of these? Do you know how thick The Road to Reality is?
  4. May 10, 2006 #3
    high school AP Physics is the last physics course I've taken, and no I don't know how thick Penrose's book is
  5. May 10, 2006 #4
    Ok I just check and it's 1140 pages, yikes!
  6. May 10, 2006 #5


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    If you really want to get into physics I would recommend picking up a basic mechanics textbook and working through that as well. The popularized physics books aren't going to teach you how to calculate. Fun reading, though! :)
  7. May 10, 2006 #6


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    read einstein. or lincoln barnetts "the universe and dr einstein." or wheelers intro to special relativity.
  8. May 10, 2006 #7


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    Light [but deep and intuition-building] reading (with few sensationalized speculations which are often found in many pop-sci books):
    Feynman's QED, Geroch's General Relativity from A to B

    In preparation for college physics, I agree with eep: spend some time learning basic mechanics (and electromagnetism)... and learn some basic mathematics (calculus, vector algebra, complex numbers).
  9. May 11, 2006 #8
    The Penrose is heavy reading. The book is interesting, but I honestly doubt you will get too much out of it if you don't already have a bit of a grasp on some of the mathematics involved. He just tries to do too much in too little space in the first half of the book.

    The Einstein is a bit less daunting, but still takes some brain twisting. Although the book is excellent, if you have only a surface level interest in the subject then you may want to look into some of the popular science books on the subject. If only to start off with, at least.
  10. May 11, 2006 #9


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    I don't recommend Penrose's book for now.It is an excellent book (I adore it!!) but too high level for now. I highly recommend the sceond book by Greene as well as ''It's about time'' by Mermin (both are two of my old teachers but I am not recommending them for this reason ;-) They are excellent). If you want to get more into the actual maths, you should then move on to Spacetime Physics by Wheeler et al and then ''Black Holes: AN introduction to GR'' if you want to get to Genreal Relativity.
  11. May 22, 2006 #10
    thanks guys great advice
  12. Jun 4, 2006 #11
    If you want a brief summary of astronomy right from past & mordern astrophysics you can read COSMOS by Carl Sagan
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