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Electrodynamics: Ohanian vs. Wangsness

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi guys, I'm just curious about how does Classical Electrodynamics by Hans Ohanian and Electromagnetic Fields by Ronald Wangsness compare? I know Griffiths is like the way to go when it comes to EM, but personally, I find his book too hand wavy and the explanations are sometimes lacking, so I decided if ever I'm going to review or choose a reference in EM what would it be aside from Griffiths? I saw few reviews about Ohanian having the "relativistic" feel in his book (which I think will be good) but I want to get more comments.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Dr Transport
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My favorite EM text of all time is Wangsness, he is concise, methodical and uses consistent notation throughout the entire text. You can read his text, work thru the theory and then apply it at the end for the homework problems. His is the only text I have seen where they teach you to set up ALL electrostatic and magnetostatic problems regardless of symmetry in Cartesian coordinates then convert to cylindrical or spherical for the final integration and that is the only way to do it, if you don't you get lucky if you get the correct answer.

A friend of mine didn't know about Wangsness and decided to go and use it after teaching out of Griffiths for a couple of years, I can't really say anything good about Griffiths.

As for the "relativistic" feel of Ohanian I can't tell you anything.

My copy has disappeared in the past month or so, gotta look for it.
 
  • #3
132
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My favorite EM text of all time is Wangsness, he is concise, methodical and uses consistent notation throughout the entire text. You can read his text, work thru the theory and then apply it at the end for the homework problems. His is the only text I have seen where they teach you to set up ALL electrostatic and magnetostatic problems regardless of symmetry in Cartesian coordinates then convert to cylindrical or spherical for the final integration and that is the only way to do it, if you don't you get lucky if you get the correct answer.

A friend of mine didn't know about Wangsness and decided to go and use it after teaching out of Griffiths for a couple of years, I can't really say anything good about Griffiths.

As for the "relativistic" feel of Ohanian I can't tell you anything.

My copy has disappeared in the past month or so, gotta look for it.
Thanks for your comment, I don't know much about wangsness but I've heard few mixed response about his book. What exactly are the aspects that makes his book better than griffiths?
 
  • #4
Dr Transport
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Thanks for your comment, I don't know much about wangsness but I've heard few mixed response about his book. What exactly are the aspects that makes his book better than griffiths?

Re-read my original post......
 
  • #5
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Re-read my original post......
Sorry, I think I should say it differently, is the difference between griffiths and wangsness really big? Big enough so that I should replace griffiths? Also, I'm confused about the positive reviews about griffiths, I find most of them not true. I'm wondering where are those coming from.
 
  • #6
Dr Transport
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Sorry, I think I should say it differently, is the difference between griffiths and wangsness really big? Big enough so that I should replace griffiths? Also, I'm confused about the positive reviews about griffiths, I find most of them not true. I'm wondering where are those coming from.
If you already have it, keep it, you'll most likely be using it in a course, it seems to be the de-facto standard. Wangsness is out of print, i think, that is why it isn't used more. Wangsness puts everything into it's own chapter/section, Griffiths tends to ramble on and put out too much info in a couple of chapters.

As for the positive reviews, I can't tell you, I am just not enamored with Griffiths even after having been forced to teach out of it.
 
  • #7
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If you already have it, keep it, you'll most likely be using it in a course, it seems to be the de-facto standard. Wangsness is out of print, i think, that is why it isn't used more. Wangsness puts everything into it's own chapter/section, Griffiths tends to ramble on and put out too much info in a couple of chapters.

As for the positive reviews, I can't tell you, I am just not enamored with Griffiths even after having been forced to teach out of it.
How about the special relativity part of wangsness? Is it also good? I hope somebody could also comment on Ohanian.
 
  • #8
atyy
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Ohanian is absolutely worth a read because of his treatment of relativity. It's a bit like the advanced version of Purcell's argument that magnetic effects follow from relativity.
 
  • #9
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Ohanian is absolutely worth a read because of his treatment of relativity. It's a bit like the advanced version of Purcell's argument that magnetic effects follow from relativity.
Yes, that also intrigued me. I feel that his treatment of relativity is very compelling but I can only choose one, so which is a better investment? Wangsness or Ohanian? Is Wangsness' treatment of relativity good?
 
  • #10
atyy
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Yes, that also intrigued me. I feel that his treatment of relativity is very compelling but I can only choose one, so which is a better investment? Wangsness or Ohanian? Is Wangsness' treatment of relativity good?
I've never read Wangsness. You can just stick with Griffiths and borrow the others from the library.
 
  • #11
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If you already have it, keep it, you'll most likely be using it in a course, it seems to be the de-facto standard. Wangsness is out of print, i think, that is why it isn't used more. Wangsness puts everything into it's own chapter/section, Griffiths tends to ramble on and put out too much info in a couple of chapters.

As for the positive reviews, I can't tell you, I am just not enamored with Griffiths even after having been forced to teach out of it.
Dr Transport, is wangsness using ict convention for the special relativity part?
 
  • #12
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I've never read Wangsness. You can just stick with Griffiths and borrow the others from the library.
I have a friend who is in undergrad, he already took EM at the level of Halliday, is Ohanian's book good for upper undergrad/ alternative to griffiths?
 
  • #13
Dr Transport
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Dr Transport, is wangsness using ict convention for the special relativity part?
I don't recall, like I said, my copy has been packed away for my move and I can't remember what box it is in....
 
  • #14
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I don't recall, like I said, my copy has been packed away for my move and I can't remember what box it is in....
Oh, thanks for your response about wangsness!
 
  • #15
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I bought Wangness and I liked it although I never used it for a course. I did not study it in detail. I also bought Ohanian, and read it in greater depth. I also had the advantage in sitting in on a general relativity course that Ohanian taught. When I read Ohanian, I could hear his voice in my ear. Ohanian does indeed treat radiation relativistically. However, I think he uses physical insight to explain terms he drops in deriving the Lienhard Weichert potentials, OK, but I think Melvin Schwartz's (inexpensive) Dover book derives the Lienhard Weichert more rigorously, in greater detail.

All told, I let a friend borrow Wangness for a indefinite time, and never missed it. I kept my Ohanian,and I like it better. I also have Griffith and I do feel it is very hand-wavy. As an undergrad I liked Lorrain and Corson for the first semester, and Marion Classical Electromagnetic Radiation for the second. This was OK
 
  • #16
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I have not looked at Ohanian, but I did buy a copy of Wangsness in grad school to study alongside Jackson. It's section on SR is sort of an afterthought, and is neither great nor terrible. On the plus side, it mentions the Trouton-Noble experiment. On the minus, it uses ict everywhere.
 
  • #17
vanhees71
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Dr Transport, is wangsness using ict convention for the special relativity part?
Yes he is. That's the show stopper :-(. Of course, it's also not very encouraging that he brings relativity as the last chapter in a text about a (if not the paradigmatic) relativistic field theory.
 
  • #18
Dr Transport
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Yes he is. That's the show stopper :-(. Of course, it's also not very encouraging that he brings relativity as the last chapter in a text about a (if not the paradigmatic) relativistic field theory.
I don't see any problem in that, I didn't teach that material to any of my undergraduates when I was teaching, leave it for graduate school. I lied the text because I found it to be the best undergraduate text available and our department syllabus didn't require us to teach any relativistic formalism in the curricula at the time.
 

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