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Book recommendation

  1. May 13, 2012 #1
    Would anyone recommend some books for me to learn about thermodynamics and optics.
    I was stuck on choosing books since either of them are too difficult or a little bit simple.
    I don't where I should post,I am apologize for any inconvenient cause.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2012 #2

    Jano L.

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    Gold Member

    For optics, there is a nice textbook at


    with a good combination of depth and breadth, while still concise (350 pages).

    For thermodynamics, it is somewhat more difficult to recommend a single book. My impression is that there are many people who feel experts on thermodynamics and related questions, but they/ or their books stress always something different. You can find two completely different expositions on thermodynamics, reading one making you wonder how could the other be called thermodynamics too. This is probably because the subject is very interesting to many people with different background, and everybody thinks his limited view is the most important part of thermodynamics. Also, much confusion is introduced into thermodynamics by attempts to mix it with statistical physics.

    My advice is definitely to read more books on thermodynamics also for the first reading. Do pure thermodynamics in depth first, do not mix it with statistics. For this, Planck's treatise

    Treatise on thermodynamics, 3rd ed, Dover 1945

    should be good (but I haven't read it yet). Also, a book

    Pippard A.B. Elements of classical thermodynamics (CUP, 1966)(600dpi)(T)(174s)_PT_

    is short and attracting.

    Next, this modern textbook is much used today:

    Callen H.B. Thermodynamics And An Introduction To Thermostatistics (2ed., Wiley, 1985)(T)(K)(600dpi)(511s)_PT_rn textbook on thermo is worthwhile, like

    There are some interesting things, but it is bit too formalistic for my taste.

    Then there is statistical physics, the part in Callen is a good start. Also Schroedinger's little book is quite nice, and short.

    I really recommend to learn thermo and statistics separately. Nowadays there is a tendency to teach them together, but this only creates confusion or gives only superficial view of thse difficult subjects.
  4. May 13, 2012 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I might be misunderstanding, but applying thermodynamic principles to optics is typically called 'radiometry'- Wolfe's book is a good introduction:


    There's a quite a few under the name of 'nonimaging optics' and solar energy applications, but I don't have any of those to recommend.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. May 14, 2012 #4
    thx for recommending me such awesome,powerful books .
    But i'm just able to read year1 books,since i'm not a university student,i'm just interested in physics
    Would you mind to recommend geometrical optics,instead of physical optics?
    And i'd like to have thermodynamics and optics teaching materials separately.
    I've asked similar question on other forum,they recommended me a book called 'Heat and thermodynamics',Zemansky M.W.,Dittman R.H.
    Would it be suitable for me?
    All of you give me a lot of useful information after all,thx a lot.
  6. May 14, 2012 #5
    I am also learning about Physics for enjoyment and have a similar problem. The books written for the public are simplified to uselessness and academic books require intense background.
  7. May 14, 2012 #6

    Jano L.

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    Gold Member

    In that case, I think maybe good intermediate level books for you guys could be Feynman's lectures on physics. They are easily readable and still contain good physics, without oversimplification.
  8. Jun 1, 2012 #7
    For thermodynamics i recomend you Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach by Yunus Cengel
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