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Good beginner books?

  1. Oct 28, 2005 #1
    Okay so I haven't done physics in high school, but am considering doing it in college. has anyone got any suggestions for good books for an introduction to physics?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2005 #2

    Tom Mattson

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    If your mathematical preparation only goes up through trigonometry, then Giancoli is a widely-used intro physics book for you. If you've taken calculus, then Halliday, Resnick and Walker is the standard text at your level. Runners-up are Tipler and Serway. Avoid Knight at all costs.
     
  4. Dec 2, 2005 #3
    Two pretty good books to "get you started" are
    "Basic Physics: A Self-Teaching Guide" by Karl F. Kuhn
    This book is a good introduction to physics with "easy" math. Overall, it's a good book to get you familar with the concepts.
    "Physics Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide" by Stan Gibilisco
    This is another decent book. It contains almost 600 pages & goes a bit deeper with the math. This book will prepare you much better for college, however I found the first book "Basic Physics" to be an easy read & a really good introduction to the basic concepts.
    Hope this helped.
     
  5. Dec 2, 2005 #4

    ranger

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    I second the Giancoli books. Thats what I used. Its very good.
     
  6. Dec 2, 2005 #5
    I had Knight as my professor. I'm surprised you even mentioned his book. I'm curious why you say to avoid it? I can't say that I liked it, but it didn't seem that bad. On the other hand, I have never looked at Halliday, though I probably should.
     
  7. Dec 2, 2005 #6
    Serway, i think is a canadian standard. I still use it as a reference
     
  8. Dec 5, 2005 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    I can't recall specifics, but a couple of years ago I was tutoring some students who were taking Physics I from Knight's book. It seemed to confuse more than illuminate, and I often found myself telling the students to put that book down and read the equivalent sections in Halliday, Resnick, and Walker. I heard nothing but complaints about the book from students taking the subsequent courses.
     
  9. Dec 5, 2005 #8
    Something like "In Search of Shrodingers Cat" or "The Art of the Infinite" are good
     
  10. Dec 5, 2005 #9
    The first physics course I ever took used the 'pre-edition' of Knight's book. The text was free but it was AWFUL!

    The next semester I was required to buy the 1st ed. of the Knight book. The stupid thing was still chock full of typos and unclear language.

    And worse than typos; in the modern physics section, the author actually makes incorrect statements about quantum mechanics.

    I got a copy of the Serway book to suplement the Knight book. I was quite satisfied with the Serway book and I still use it as a reference.
     
  11. Dec 5, 2005 #10
    I do remember that the way it started with vectors and kinematics annoyed me no end, it seemed thoroughly retarded.

    Ok, I just pulled out my roommate's copy of the book (i lost mine at some point last year). The Brief table of contents lists 6 chapters on modern atomic/nuclear/quantum physics that are not even in the book, and are not listed in the Detailed table of contents.

    Now that I start actually looking at it again for the first time in a while, I remember more things I disliked about it. Bleh. Definitely wouldn't recommend it for someone wanting to do independent study.
     
  12. Dec 5, 2005 #11
    If you mean Serway's College Physics, I found that to be one of the most confusing physics books ever. (Can't judge Physics for Scientists and Engineers..)
    A good physics book we used last year for college-prep physics was Physics: Principles and Problems by Paul W. Zitzewitz... covers everything well at the level of an algebra/trigonometry-based physics course.
    Also, "Physics Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide" by Stan Gibilisco is pretty good too, although it focuses more on concepts rather than the math behind everything.
     
  13. Dec 5, 2005 #12
    Serway is calculus based, so if you were taking an algebra/trigonometry-based physics course, I could see how Serway would be confusing.
     
  14. Dec 7, 2005 #13

    ranger

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    Before Knight publishes his book, doesnt it have to be reviewed or something by other people in that field? Its hard to believe that a book could go on the market (and be used a text book) with such incorrect contents. Dont the professors even take a look at the book? Cant anything be done to prevent books like this from hitting the market?
     
  15. Dec 7, 2005 #14

    robphy

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    I learned my intro physics using Halliday-Resnick [classic, green cover with yellow waves], then TA-ed using Halliday-Resnick-Walker and calc-based-Serway, and taught with Cutnell-Johnson, Wilson-Buffa, and calc-based-Serway. These were essentially pre-selected by my instructors or department-heads and their previous instructors. To me, H-R was my favorite and the others (to me) seemed like variations on its theme and layout. [Historians of physics textbooks: what was before H-R?]

    Does anyone have opinions (as a student, as a TA, or as an instructor) about the newer entries into this genre,
    such as

    Giambattista, Richardson, and Richardson - College Physics (which I was considering adopting in 06-07)
    http://catalogs.mhhe.com/mhhe/viewProductDetails.do?isbn=0072875593
    and
    Cummings, Laws, Redish, and Cooney - Understanding Physics (which builds upon H-R)
    http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471370991.html
    and
    McDermott - Tutorials in Introductory Physics
    http://www.phys.washington.edu/groups/peg/tut.html
    and
    Moore - Six Ideas that Shaped Physics
    http://www.physics.pomona.edu/sixideas/
    and
    Chabay and Sherwood - Matter & Interactions
    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~rwchabay/mi/

    which have been influenced by the Physics Education Research community.
    http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/homepages.htm
    http://www.phys.washington.edu/groups/peg/
     
  16. Dec 7, 2005 #15
    I found this book to be very poorly written/reasoned in sections, especially when dealing with the conceptual aspects behind the physics being discussed. It's possible that my first impression was incorrect, as I didn't give the book a thorough study, but it certainly didn't leave me with a good first impression when I skimmed through a copy a friend had on his bookshelf.
     
  17. Dec 9, 2005 #16
    Are we talking about the same book? :\
    I know enough calculus to get by.. but the Serway book that we have is limited to algebra and trigonometry.... "College Physics" is the name.
    Maybe you're talking about Physics for Scientists and Engineers?
     
  18. Dec 10, 2005 #17
    The Physics for Scientists and Engineers is definitely a calc. based book, that's the one I used when I was an undergrad.
     
  19. Dec 14, 2005 #18

    You know, I would think so, and I found it very odd when I saw that. I have no idea why it was like that. That said, the guy is a bit too much in love with hhis book as well. In his lectures, if someone asks a question, about 50% of the time his answer will be along the lines of "I would explain it, but its already in the book."
     
  20. Dec 14, 2005 #19

    robphy

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    In my opinion (as a student),
    I can sympathize with your sentiment.

    In my opinion (as an instructor)...
    it may very well be that his response for this particular question is the same as that he carefully wrote in the textbook... so, rather than spend the class time repeating what is in the book, it's suggested to read the book outside of class. It may also be suggesting that, for this question, the answer was right there in the textbook if only the student had read it before coming to class.

    A new trend in physics education is to lecture less and not repeat what is already in the textbook (which they should be reading outside of class)... and instead spend the time helping the student to be less passive [i.e. just being given the answer to a question] and more interactive with other students in learning the important concepts through a guided activity.
     
  21. Dec 15, 2005 #20
    Actually this is exactly why. The problem though, is when what was in the book just left the student confused, that response from him doesn't help. I've had a number of classmates, mostly engineering majors, who read the book, but still did not understand it. So when the professor responds like that, it kinda leaves them up a creek without a paddle, and keeps my room filled with people looking for homework help until midnight or later most nights.

    I like this trend, and it is the way Knight teaches. But my above criticism still stands.
     
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