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Intro Physics Experimental physics for theoreticians

  1. Sep 1, 2016 #1

    Demystifier

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    I am a theoretical physicist who would like to learn more about experimental physics. I will not work in a laboratory, so I do not need practical technical details. What I need are the general ideas and principles of various experimental techniques. Also, I don't want a book dealing with only one branch of physics (say only optics, or only nuclear physics). I want a book (or perhaps a book series) dealing with more-or-less all branches of experimental physics. Can someone recommend such a book or books?
     
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  3. Sep 1, 2016 #2

    Bystander

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  4. Sep 1, 2016 #3

    Demystifier

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  5. Sep 1, 2016 #4

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    Techniques of organic chemistry, volume 1: Physical methods of ...
    onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pol.1962.../abstract
    John Wiley & Sons
    by NG Gaylord - ‎1962
    Mar 10, 2003 - Techniques of organic chemistry, volume 1: Physical methods of organic chemistry, Part III, 3rd ed. Edited by Arnold Weissberger. Interscience ...
    Physical Methods of Chemistry
    https://books.google.com/books?isbn=047154406X
    Bryant W. Rossiter, ‎John F. Hamilton, ‎Roger C. Baetzold - 1993 - ‎Chemistry
    This is a continuation of a series of books started by Dr. Arnold Weissberger in 1945 entitled Physical Methods of Organic Chemistry. These books were part of a ...
    Don't know whether this is more in the ballpark ... it is and it isn't what it sounds/reads like ... yes, it is written from an organic chemist's perspective ... , and, no, it requires NO knowledge of chemistry.
     
  6. Sep 1, 2016 #5

    ShayanJ

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    Maybe this is what you want. But its a long series!
     
  7. Sep 1, 2016 #6

    Demystifier

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    Impressive, but too much even for a single experimentalist (let alone theorist). When I said "book series", I meant not bigger than the Landau-Lifshitz series for theoretical physics.
     
  8. Sep 1, 2016 #7

    ShayanJ

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    Actually those are not very detailed books, at least the one I used in my undergrad wasn't!
    LL explain SR,EM and GR in one book but I can show you a book only about detecting gravitational waves!
    Also, there are several sides to experimental physics. Do you want to know how the instruments work? or How the data are analyzed? or How the experiments are designed?
    The instruments usually span several fields so there you have a chance to be able to find a good book that spans several fields. Data analysis is also almost the same but I somehow got the impression that analyzing data from gravitational waves are somehow different. But designing experiment seems the most field dependent of the above three and it seems to me that there is a little chance you can find a general book about this. But if you know the implications of a theory well enough and also are familiar with the tools you have, you should be good at designing experiments.

    I think your best chance is a patch work of different books to only get general ideas and not going into field dependent issues. For now I have two suggestions:

    https://www.amazon.com/Data-Analysi...-1&keywords=data+analysis+high+energy+physics
    (Yeah, it says in high energy physics on the cover but I don't see what prevents you from applying these tools to other areas of physics)

    https://www.amazon.com/Measurement-...ent+and+Detection+of+Radiation,+Third+Edition

    This may be interesting too:
    https://www.amazon.com/Gravitationa...1472747089&sr=1-1&keywords=gravitational+wave
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  9. Sep 2, 2016 #8

    Demystifier

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    Yes, I want to understand their physical basis.
     
  10. Sep 2, 2016 #9

    ShayanJ

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    Then this is what you want:
    And this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Radiation-De...&qid=1472806254&sr=1-1&keywords=9780470131480

    Your choice!

    But I strongly recommend you to read about data analysis too. I know only a little but I really feel even that little contributed to my understanding of physics. This seems to be a good source:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  11. Sep 2, 2016 #10

    Demystifier

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    My bad, I was not really so much interested about instruments as such. I guess I should have say that I want to know how experiments are designed (but not in too many technical details).
     
  12. Sep 2, 2016 #11

    Andy Resnick

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    I think your original request is a bit unfair- it would be like me (an experimentalist) asking for a single book covering all of theoretical methods used to investigate physics- not just a single branch, but the entire field. And I don't need to know any technical or practical details. And it shouldn't be too long. And I'm not interested in formulas, I just want to know how people develop the ideas.
     
  13. Sep 2, 2016 #12

    ShayanJ

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    Ironically the only field-independent parts of that is how instruments work and how the resulting data are analyzed! The other parts are coming up with an idea about how to use the instruments you have at hand to create the theoretical situation of interest in the lab and then analyzing the resulting data. As you can see its hardly interconnected with the field you're doing experiments in (aside from being an innovative process that can't have a "quick-guide" as you seem to expect!) and as a result, you'll get that very long series that I mentioned!
    So, as I said before, the best you can do is studying about experimental methods in a particular field and that will give you some intuition that helps you have an idea of what people do in other fields.
     
  14. Sep 2, 2016 #13

    Demystifier

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    Fair enough, let me make a more fair request. A book (or book series) with no more than 1500 pages covering all branches of experimental physics. Details can be there. (I think it's fair because I know a plenty of such books for theoretical physics)
     
  15. Sep 2, 2016 #14

    Demystifier

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    Fine, but if some theoreticians can write single books covering all branches of theoretical physics, I am convinced that some experimentalists could do the same for experimental physics. Ideally, I would like something like an experimental analogue of this book:
    https://www.amazon.com/Road-Reality-Complete-Guide-Universe/dp/0679776311
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  16. Sep 2, 2016 #15

    ShayanJ

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    This is a fallacy. You're comparing apples with oranges. To clarify my point, I should be too pedantic here. Penrose doesn't explain all of theoretical physics, he explains general principles, axioms and fundamental assumptions and equations from which all situations of interest to theoretical physics can be derived. For example he doesn't explain how to find the equivalent capacitance of several capacitors in a circuit but that can be derived from Maxwell's equations and other fundamental assumptions in electromagnetism.
    You're assuming that there is such an organized structure of assumptions, principles, axioms and equations that experimental physicists use to design experiments. You're assuming that designing experiments is like some specific calculations that we can expect Mathematica to be able to do for us. That's wrong, designing experiments is like developing a theory. The theoretical equivalent of what you want is not a book that explains all theories, but rather a book that explains how to develop a theory. There can be no such book because developing a theory is an innovative process. Its the same with designing an experiment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  17. Sep 2, 2016 #16

    Demystifier

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    OK then, how about the following books?

    https://www.amazon.com/Theoretical-Physics-Dover-Books/dp/0486652270

    https://www.amazon.com/Unified-Gran...264&sr=1-1&keywords=lawrie+unified+grand+tour

    https://www.amazon.com/Compendium-T...1472821430&sr=1-1&keywords=wachter+compendium

    https://www.amazon.com/Basic-Theore...UTF8&qid=1472821472&sr=1-1&keywords=krey+owen

    Is something similar for experimental physics still impossible?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  18. Sep 2, 2016 #17

    ShayanJ

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    Is there a series of books that explain how to develop a theory without following the development of some theories and without specializing to a particular field?
     
  19. Sep 2, 2016 #18

    Demystifier

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    No, but that's not what I want for experimental physics. Come on, I just want a book on experimental physics which covers most branches of physics. Is that really too much?
     
  20. Sep 2, 2016 #19

    ShayanJ

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    But I mentioned such a book series in post #5 and you yourself admitted that it is too much!!!
    You can always decide to use that book series but only read certain parts of certain volumes. But to know much, you need to read much!
    Also, my point was that there is no underlying theory of experiment design. You should follow the design of several experiments to get the idea of how to design an experiment. And that can be done by reading a few of experimental methods in several fields. I can find you such books if you want. But, of course, the more the experience, the better the result. So again, to understand better, you need to read more or do it yourself.
    Also, you can't understand designing experiments without knowing how the instruments work and how the data are analyzed, as you can't develop a relativistic theory without understanding relativity. But maybe that's the detail part and not needed at the level of understanding you want.
     
  21. Sep 2, 2016 #20

    Demystifier

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    Fine, if I also need to know how instruments work and how data are analyzed, then I am ready to read about that too. But I don't want to become an expert. I just want a broad overview. That's why the book series containing 30 books is too much for me. I am convinced that a broad overview of all most relevant stuff about experimental physics can be put in a compact form within 500-1500 pages.
     
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