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Classical Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems, by Jerry Marion and Stephen Thornton

  1. Strongly Recommend

  2. Lightly Recommend

  3. Lightly don't Recommend

  4. Strongly don't Recommend

  1. Jan 21, 2013 #1

    Table of Contents: 5th Ed
    1. Matrices, Vectors, and Vector Calculus.
    2. Newtonian Mechanics--Single Particle.
    3. Oscillations.
    4. Nonlinear Oscillations and Chaos.
    5. Gravitation.
    6. Some Methods in the Calculus of Variations.
    7. Hamilton's Principle--Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics.
    8. Central-Force Motion.
    9. Dynamics of a System of Particles.
    10. Motion in a Noninertial Reference Frame.
    11. Dynamics of Rigid Bodies.
    12. Coupled Oscillations.
    13. Continuous Systems: Waves.
    14. The Special Theory of Relativity.
    Selected References.
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2013 #2


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    Re: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen T. Thornton

    Like many folks, I took an upper division physics course based on this book. It was about 20 years ago, so I am only familiar with the 3rd edition. Overall I think it is a fine book that presents the basic material quite clearly. The problems were instructive but not always the most interesting, though, so I was glad when the prof. gave us more interesting problems that were not from the book. There is more than a semester's worth of material here; we did not cover relativistic mechanics or waves on strings (we did, however, cover perturbation theory, go figure...). The coverage of calculus of variations in a separate chapter before Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism made for an easy way through the material. The sections on Liouville's theorem and hte Virial theorem were great, and in particular Liouville came in useful in my future studies of kinetic theory.

    By the way, the asking price for the new edition is robbery. I sure hope there are better alternatives these days that are not so expensive. If you are looking for a good book for self-study, look for a used copy of an old edition (2nd or 3rd edition can be found online for < $15 US including shipping). Note that these older editions do not cover nonlinear dynamics at all; that started with the 4th edition which runs for tons more money. With the money you save you could always get another book (perhaps Strogatz's) to supplement if you are interested.

  4. Jan 29, 2013 #3
    Re: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen T. Thornton

    The best Intermediate book between Kleppnar & Goldstein Mechanics because Kleppnar is Newtonian approach to Mechanics & Goldstein is Hamiltonian and Lagrangian approach to Mechanics.So this is the best bridge between them.
  5. Jan 29, 2013 #4


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    Re: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen T. Thornton

    I had much the same experience ~ 35 years ago. We used the second edition published in 1970. Marion died in 1981, and the third edition was published in 1988 with Thorton as co-author. The 4th edition was published in 1995, and the 5th edition in 2003.

    The preface of the third edition has a statement by Thorton that when he was asked by the publisher to update the book, he began by 'sending a questionnaire to several hundred instructors' . . . . That's a testament to the quality of the book.
  6. Feb 1, 2013 #5


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    Re: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen T. Thornton

    I too used the 2nd edition. Can't remember much about the course except for that darn problem about a falling satellite and how we had to show it took something like 5/9 of the total time to fall half the distance or something like that. We struggled for days on it until another prof said we're looking at it all wrong.

    Our approach was to try to marry the Gmm/r^2 rule with distance travelled but we couldn't get the time into the mix. His suggestion was to use Kepler's law of equal areas in equal times and then collapse the orbit s that it was basically up then down and the solution just fell out. We were dumbfounded and knew we'd never have gotten it on our own.

    Can't remember the ratio or the problem well only the pain of realization that we had a long way to go to master physics.

    I liked the book though but other students kept saying to check out Goldstein. We were an anxious crowd of undergrads.
  7. Feb 22, 2013 #6


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    Re: Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen T. Thornton

    I recently picked up my copy of the third edition again and see that there are ~15 pages on nonlinear oscillations in Chapter 3. So I was wrong in making the above statement. The library at work has the second edition which also has at least that much on nonlinear vibrations. However, the coverage of nonlinear phenomena really is minimal, so is not the place to look for such material.

  8. Mar 30, 2013 #7
    Question: How much knowledge of diff. equations is assumed? Will knowledge of simple 1st & 2nd order ODEs be enough, or is more needed (or does the book take a few pages to explain math when used)? How about PDEs?

  9. Mar 31, 2013 #8


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    That is enough differential equations for this book - essentially just first order ODES and constant coefficient linear second order ODEs is all you need. It does explain what you need along the way. . It is written so that not a lot of math pre-reqs are needed (calculus, multi-variable calculus, basic matrix algebra, basic ODEs). There is also an appendix (at least in the 3rd edition) that gives an overview of all the ODEs you need. You do not need any experience with PDEs for this book, either. It is written to be accessible by any engineer/physicist/etc. after intro physics and a standard 4 semester math sequence.
  10. Mar 31, 2013 #9
    That was helpful, thanks.

    anyone else want to voice their opinion?
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