Dumbing down of Calculus Based Physics

In summary, Calculus-Based Physics is becoming increasingly simplified in order to appeal to a wider range of students and make the subject more accessible. This trend is seen as a response to the declining enrollment in physics courses and the need for more students to pursue careers in science and technology. As a result, some argue that the true depth and rigor of the subject is being lost, leading to a lack of critical thinking skills and a decrease in the overall quality of education in physics. However, others believe that this approach allows for a more inclusive and diverse group of students to engage with the subject and potentially discover a passion for physics.
  • #1
ASmc2
28
3
I am trying to learn calculus based physics, but I am unhappy with the book that I currently use. I want a comprehensive introductory physics resorce that is not afraid to use introductory calculus. (The book that I have sometimes stays away from it). Can anyone suggest such a resorce?
[Edit] Thank you for moving this topic [Edit]
 
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  • #2
Depending on what you mean by "introductory" calc, a good possibility to start with might be Kleppner and Kolenknow, An Introduction to Mechanics: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521198216/?tag=pfamazon01-20 It has its pros and cons, which you can find out about from the amazon reviews, but it's known as a classic rigorous text for students who have the necessary extremely strong preparation. You can look at the amazon reviews to see if it's likely to be at the right math level for you.

They Feynman lectures are at a similar intellectual level, but they have no exercises, which makes them essentially useless for self-study.

When you get beyond mechanics and want to do E&M, the best book by far is Purcell. Purcell tries to teach you vector calc as you go along. It would probably not be wise to attempt it unless you are taking an actual vector calc course concurrently by then.

I try not to use this forum to hype my own books, but they're free online, and you can easily find them by googling.
 
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  • #3
bcrowell said:
Depending on what you mean by "introductory" calc, a good possibility to start with might be Kleppner and Kolenknow, An Introduction to Mechanics: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521198216/?tag=pfamazon01-20 It has its pros and cons, which you can fint meand out about from the amazon reviews, but it's known as a classic rigorous text for students who have the necessary extremely strong preparation. You can look at the amazon reviews to see if it's likely to be at the right math level for you.

They Feynman lectures are at a similar intellectual level, but they have no exercises, which makes them essentially useless for self-study.

When you get beyond mechanics and want to do E&M, the best book by far is Purcell. Purcell tries to teach you vector calc as you go along. It would probably not be wise to attempt it unless you are taking an actual vector calc course concurrently by then.

I try not to use this forum to hype my own books, but they're free online, and you can easily find them by googling.


What I meant was single variable calculus. If you have suggestions for mechanics that don't require that much vector calc and do not require multivariable calc, I appreciate them. I will look into the book you suggest.
(vecor calc will show up in a mechanics book if they rely on calc for some derivations, am I wrong?:) I can't have it too easy. :) )
 
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  • #5
ASmc2 said:
What I meant was single variable calculus. If you have suggestions for mechanics that don't require that much vector calc and do not require multivariable calc, I appreciate them. I will look into the book you suggest.
(vecor calc will show up in a mechanics book if they rely on calc for some derivations, am I wrong?:) I can't have it too easy. :) )

I think Kleppner introduces a little vector calc here and there, but does not assume you know any going in.
 
  • #6
Do physicists actually use the word "rigorous" to describe the Feynman Lectures? Maybe Ben meant something different by "rigorous" -- I think of "rigorous" as meaning "precise" and "formal" (as in "mathematically rigorous.") I wonder if Ben meant "rigorous" as a synonym for "difficult."

I had thought the Feynman Lectures were famed for their informal use of mathematics and ability to teach the reader to "think like a physicist." (No fretting over Lebesgue integrals or measure theory here!) And unless my memory is playing tricks, I seem to recall Feynman teasing mathematicians at times in the Lectures.

Don't get me wrong -- the Feynman Lectures are great precisely because they are mathematically informal, allowing a reader to build up her scientific intuition. (However, I am also not sure I would recommend the Feynman Lectures as a primary text to an undergraduate student -- they form a great supplementary text.)

When I think of a mathematically rigorous textbook, I think of something like V. I. Arnold's Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics. (While Arnold's book was written for third-year undergraduates at Moscow State University, and while it is certainly one of the greatest applied math books of all time, I think it is fairly difficult even for graduate physics students, let alone undergraduates!)

Are there any introductory physics books that use a mathematically rigorous approach? I am not aware of any.
 

Related to Dumbing down of Calculus Based Physics

1. What is the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics?

The "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics refers to the phenomenon where the level of difficulty and rigor in teaching and learning this subject has decreased over time. This is often attributed to changes in curriculum, teaching methods, and student performance.

2. Why is the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics a concern?

The "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics is a concern because it can lead to a decrease in the quality of education and preparation for students pursuing careers in science and engineering. It also hinders the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for success in these fields.

3. What factors contribute to the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics?

There are several factors that can contribute to the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics, including changes in curriculum and teaching methods that prioritize memorization over understanding, a lack of emphasis on mathematical concepts, and a decrease in the number of qualified teachers.

4. How can the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics be addressed?

To address the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics, there needs to be a renewed focus on teaching and learning methods that promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This can be achieved through incorporating more challenging problems and real-world applications, providing adequate training for teachers, and encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.

5. Is the "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics a global issue?

The "dumbing down" of Calculus Based Physics is a global issue, as it is not limited to one country or education system. Many countries have reported a decline in the quality and level of difficulty in teaching and learning this subject, and efforts are being made to address this issue and improve the overall education in science and engineering fields.

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