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Books to start off with

  1. Jan 7, 2004 #1
    I am new to most all of the concepts in modern theoretical physics. What are the must read books to start off with to develop a basic understanding of the basic principles of modern theoretical physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2004 #2
    Do you have any physics background at all?
  4. Jan 8, 2004 #3
    I have my bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell and have taken three semesters of Physics. I have a good knowledge up to the subject of basic quantum physics.
  5. Jan 8, 2004 #4
    you say basic quantum mechanics. i m not sure how basic is basic, but before you go on to more theoretical stuff, you should be feeling pretty comfortable with a book like Shankar or Sakurai.

    and if you know quantum mechanics, your next step is quantum field theory, and general relativity.

    for an easier book in quantum field theory, i suggest Greiner and Reinhardt. for a slightly more advanced book but still very well suited to self study, i suggest this new book by Zee. i read a few chapters in a bookstore, and it was kind of nifty.

    Ryder is a serious book, and Weinberg is the bible.

    for GR, i think a nice easier book is Hartle, but the nicest book available is probably Wald.

    then after that, i guess you want to start on string theory, since you posted in this string theory forum. well i would suggest getting both Green Schwarz and Witten, and Polchinski. GSW is easier to read (in my opinion), but polchinski is more modern. Clifford Johnson has a great book on D-branes. you might also like to have a suppliment a book on conformal field theory. for that, i suggest Di Francesco.

    after that, there aren t really many more textbooks, you should just do all your reading on the archiv.

    by the way, i have made no mention of the math you have to know to learn all that physics. how much math do you know?
  6. Jan 8, 2004 #5
    As an Engineering Student I think he knows much math ;)
  7. Jan 8, 2004 #6
    really? i thought engineers didn t go much passed calc..... maybe diff eqs, tops.....
  8. Jan 8, 2004 #7
    Thanks alot lethe, that should give me a good start. As for math, you are correct, we topped out at basic diff eq., linear algebra. Most of the math I see used in the String/Quantum stuff literally looks like greek to me:smile: .
  9. Jan 9, 2004 #8
    another book for string theory: barton zwiebach. his book isn t available yet, it was supposed to be published and available by january this year, but i think it has been delayed a few months. but i m sure it will be out any time now. it is a book of string theory for undergrads, and it has a very basic intro to a lot of the concepts of string theory. but not suited for use if you want to learn the modern aspects of string theory (D-branes, aDS/CFT, etc)
  10. Jan 9, 2004 #9
    Ha..ha.. Yes! you are correct! But ... I am also an engineering student but in our course we've completed Complex variables, Legendre, Bessel functions, Laplace, Z-transform, Fourier Series, Probability Distributions and Queuing theory, Graph Theory etc. I am not sure you'll call them Higher math or not but I can tell you that I am not that expert :wink:
  11. Jan 9, 2004 #10
    Yes i know i have to do a lots of diff equation as an Engineer in Electronics.

    But nothing can withold me from reading maths & physics
  12. Jan 11, 2004 #11
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