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Classical Classical Mechanic books for a Secondary Student

  1. Mar 13, 2015 #1
    I am a secondary student who is in grade 10, which means that I am only beginning to learn physics and calculus (e.g. Newton's Laws and Binomial Theorem). I have a passion for physics and has been getting relatively good grades but recently I started to lay my hands on Newton's Laws and I am thoroughly frustrated. The book offers little to no explanation on how to solve different questions and the exercise books are too hard for me to understand them. Can someone give me a list of good books that are not too hard, but can further my knowledge on classical physics and eventually build up to Lagrangian Mechanics (I know it's a bit off a stretch but I really want to learn it.) Also, can you please list out what kind of maths would I need to be able to understand college level physics, thanks. (Update: I saw one of my classmates solving problems from a book called "Introductory Classical Mechanics, with problems and solution by David Morin, what kind of math would I need to be able to solve questions in this book?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Mathwise you'll need to now Calculus 1, 2 and 3 to understand Classical Mechanics at the Lagrangian level. CM uses a lot of Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations to formulate and solve problems

    The difference in what you are learning now and the college level is quite vast. Basically, you are taught formulas to apply for a given set of conditions and constraints whereas in college level Classical Mechanics you start with first principles, apply a set of conditions and constraints specific to your problem and then use Differential Equations methodology or Calculus to derive the equations of motion and to finally get the answer.

    We have a featured thread by Zapperz that really help you in long-term planning on becoming a physicist:


    For a list of math you'll need checkout this website:


    Khan's Academy videos may help in understanding the physics:


    It has a comprehensive collection of videos for math you'll need.

    For books that can help your understanding:

    Tsokos's book:


    Benjamin Crowell's books might help:


    For more details on Classical Mechanics, there's Prof Leonard Susskind's book:

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  4. Mar 13, 2015 #3
    Morin's problems involve calculus and some basic differential equations (which you typically learn about in calculus 2 these days). I would definitely not start with Morin. The people who get exposed to that book typically have previous exposure to physics and a computational calculus course or two under their belt. If your book isn't helping you understand the problems it's giving, I second Jedishrfu's recommendation to use khan academy as it has some very good guides and problems to practice through.

    As a note, if you're working on a problem, and can't describe in words what is happening with the system, you typically won't be able to solve it. For understanding the underlying concepts, I highly recommend watching Walter Lewin's lectures for intro Mechanics:


    And bottom line, do as many problems as you can.

    Good Luck :D
  5. Mar 14, 2015 #4
    I am a bit confused, so I will need computational calculus to understand Morin's book or just Calculus 2?
  6. Mar 14, 2015 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    I think he means calculus where you actually integrate s function and then evaluate it over the interval to get your answer.

    As opposed to using computational methods to numerically integrate a function that you can't integrate exactly.
  7. Mar 15, 2015 #6
    Calculus 2 IS a computational calculus course. It's one where you simply evaluate derivatives, integrals and the like without going into the proofs behind them. Sorry, shouldn't have assumed you knew that. Just think of it as a difference between a normal Calculus course (Computational) and an honors (proof heavy).
  8. Mar 15, 2015 #7
    I agree with the above posts. As discouraging as it may seem at this point, to get to physics of that calibre you simply need more mathematics than you familiar with at this point.

    I do however have a suggestion. I would strongly recommend Randall Knight's book "Physics for Scientists and Engineers". It is a tremendous introductory physics textbook that introduces calculus as it incorporates it into the problems and derivations. I used it for my first-year sequence win physics, for a modern physics course after that, and a "first" EM course after that. It's a good book.
  9. Mar 16, 2015 #8
    Wow, Randall Knight's book is a really good recommendation, thanks!
  10. Mar 16, 2015 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Which book, by the way?
  11. Mar 16, 2015 #10
    You are most welcome. PM me if you need any help locating a copy or with some issues on editions.
  12. Mar 16, 2015 #11
  13. Apr 16, 2015 #12
    Is he talking about this for example, if given a position or time value, a person want'swants to know information of an object being dropped at aNY time. So start with definition of acceleration and create a fuction. Without really using the kinematic equations? Things of this nature?

    If you know calculus already (waait till you are done with ur current course), I would get Morris Kline calculus an intuitive approach. Rather more basic then stewart, however it offers keen insight on how to apply the calculus to problems you would encounter in a typical undergrad 3 semester series of physics.
  14. Apr 16, 2015 #13
    N honestly, I used Randall knights book for a course, it is a horrible book. The author is extremely verbose. I prefer an older edition of serway (iI have 4th ed) or fundamental physics by resnick. Physics(oolder edition) by Resnick is also good. However, Physics by resnick can be challengig read because of the way the math is presented. Less intuition is provided and focuses on a bit more rigor.
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