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Classical Good book for Freshman level E&M

  1. Dec 19, 2015 #1
    Hello all,

    I've looked around and it seems the general consensus is Purcell for E&M. I just wanted to make sure that these textbooks would align with my syllabus for E&M. Now there is a little thing I need to add. I'm doing Mechanics and E&M at the same time. I've previously taken AP physics A & B, but I don't know if that change anything.

    If Purcell is the book for me, how should I go about picking which problems to solve? Just solve the odd ones or what?

    Also we are going to be using Smart Physics. Does anyone have any opinions on it? I assume that alone won't be enough to not get a textbook.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2015 #2
    I wouldn't suggest Purcell as a first exposure to E n M. How is your calculus? Have you had a semester of Multi-Variable Calculus? Have you gone through a mechanics book at the level of Kleppner and Kolenkow?
     
  4. Dec 19, 2015 #3
    Kip is easier than Purcel
     
  5. Dec 19, 2015 #4

    vanhees71

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    I'd not recommend Purcell at all (see the trouble it causes in the classical physics and relativity forums ;-)). It's not a bad book if you know the subject, but it's quite confusing for the beginner.

    I'd rather recommend the Feynman Lectures, vol. II.
     
  6. Dec 19, 2015 #5
    I've done calculus I and II (differential and integral), which I did quite well in both classes and have a good grasp on the concepts. I will be taking Mechanics, E&M, and Multi-Variable Calculus concurrently. I did do Physics A & B through University Physics by Young and Freedman.

    Would you also recommend Kleppner and Kolenkow for mechanics? That's what I was planning on doing.

    All that being said would you recommend Feynman Lectures, or Kip?
     
  7. Dec 19, 2015 #6
    Not sure. I am a math major, not a physics major. I used Kip and conjunction with Purcell. I found Kip and Purcell at the right level. ( I self studied Kleppner and Kolenkow).
    It would be a big step up going from Young and Freedman to Purcell. It is not a big step going from KK to Purcell.

    I own a set of the Feynman lectures, but I have not really read them.
     
  8. Dec 19, 2015 #7

    jasonRF

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    I will be yet another person to tell you that Purcell is not the book you want. I first learned electromagnetism in a course that used the 2nd edition of Purcell (AFTER I had taken multivariable calculus) and thought it was brutal. I easily spent 20 hours a week on homework and was at best an average student. It uses multiple integrals in chapter one and partial derivatives, gradients of scalar fields, and curl and divergence of vector fields in chapter two. The third edition is supposed to be a bit more user friendly, but it sounds like you are not prepared for it at all.

    Regarding 'smartphysics' - if it doesn't suit you then a more standard intro book would probably be your best bet.

    Jason
     
  9. Dec 20, 2015 #8
    Could you recommend a good intro book then? Kip, Feynman or any other?
     
  10. Dec 20, 2015 #9
    The book you used, University Physics by Young, is good enough.
     
  11. Dec 20, 2015 #10

    vanhees71

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    This is not the reason, I don't like this book. It's of course hopeless to think that you could study classical electrodynamics without vector calculus (the classical vector calculus in 3D Euclidean space is sufficient, but it should be known quite completely, including the differential operators grad, div, curl, and Laplacian, the Stokes and Gauß's integral theorems, Helmholtz's fundamental theorem).

    My reason is that the very good ansatz to start classical electrodynamics from the beginning as a relativistic theory is spoiled by an overcomplicated treatment. The best book of this kind for me is

    M. Schwartz, Principles of Electrodynamics, Dover Publications (1972)

    By the way, he's also a Nobel Laureate :-).

    For the more advanced student, also Landau&Lifshitz, vol. 2 can be recommended. That's also going in a modern way starting right away with the relativistic formalism, and it's one of the best introductions to General Relativity as well.

    However, it depends a bit on the lecture you attend. If they do it in the old-fashioned way with a lot of electro- and magnetostatics in the beginning and in an inductive way (instead of starting right away with the relativistic treatment). An ingenious compromise are the Feynman Lectures vol. II, which can be used for both a conventional and a modern treatment of introductory E&M.
     
  12. Dec 20, 2015 #11
    The relevant sections of any "comprehensive" first-year physics books are usually good enough for a sophomore level treatment of EM. Alternatively you could very easily substitute Griffith's book and simply use the relevant sections.
     
  13. Dec 20, 2015 #12

    robphy

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  14. Dec 20, 2015 #13

    jasonRF

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    The other people here have given good suggestions. I think it is okay to learn basic electromagnetism without learning how special relativity connects the electric and magnetic forces. After you learn the basics (from any intro course or text), you can always look at the notes by Prof. Schroeder at Weber State to get a nice discussion of the topic:
    http://physics.weber.edu/schroeder/mrr/MRRnotes.pdf

    jason
     
  15. Dec 21, 2015 #14
    I would highly recommend Matter and Interactions Volume II or Feynman Lectures Volume II. They're so awesome I keep both of them!
     
  16. Dec 21, 2015 #15

    robphy

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  17. Dec 21, 2015 #16

    bcrowell

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    Based on your math and physics background, you sound like you're solidly in the target audience of Purcell, which is the best E&M book ever written at that level.

    The Feynman lectures are not a practical way to learn physics for the first time, which is why they're not used as textbooks. Although there is now a set of homework problems for the Feynman lectures, published as a separate book, IMO they're not very good.
     
  18. Dec 21, 2015 #17

    Student100

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    Purcell 3rd edition is much better, finally got rid of the CGS system which was probably more irritating than it should have been, but I also didn't read it until after I had taken intro E&M already and had enough SR to were it made sense.

    I wouldn't recommend Feynman lectures at all, however. They're an interesting read, but I couldn't imagine using it as a textbook.

    Physics 4th/5th edition by H&R is probably the middle ground between newer introductory texts and Purcell. So if you don't feel comfortable with Purcell OP then that may be a good alternative for you (A cheap alternative if you can find a good used copy on amazon). I think everyone will have differing opinions on this based on personal experience.
     
  19. Dec 22, 2015 #18

    vanhees71

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    Well, introducing the SI instead of Gaussian (or better Heaviside-Lorentz) units is rather an argument against a textbook than for it, but this pest is spreading nowadays. Even the alltime-classic Jackson has committed this sin ;-)).
     
  20. Dec 22, 2015 #19

    vanhees71

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    Well, to call something the "best book" about something is pretty subjective. I don't like this book at all. For me the best E&M books written are Landau Lifshitz volume II, Schwartz, and Scheck vol. 3, although I'd not recommend it to start learning the subject from them. For a more traditional "non-relativistic approach" I'd also recommend Schwinger's Classical Electrodynamics, but that's very advanced in quite marvelous (and often trickery) math.

    If you want a book at the introductory level that emphasizes the relativistic structure of classical electrodynamics the Feynman lectures are way better than the Berkely Physics course, because they don't pretend that you can derive everything from relativity and electrostatics. The logic should be as exhibited in Landau and Lifshitz: You start with (special) relativity and then investigate the various possible fields awailable (which in the classical theory are tensor fields). As it turns out, a massless vector field with gauge couplings does the job to describe electromagnetism.

    This is, however, a poor heuristics for an introductory textbook, which should start from the physical observations. This means, you should start with the notion of electric and magnetic field components and the material property of elctric charge, which are the fundamental observational building blocks of electromagnetism and Maxwell's equations + the Lorentz force law. The big paradigm change from classical non-relativistic mechanics with actions at a distance to classical relativistic theories is the notion of the field and locality of all interactions with dynamical fields "mediating" the interactions between "particles" (which are always extended macroscopic objects; a point charge in the strict mathematical sense is a conundrum still today and anyway not a very good model for anything in nature).

    The mechanical part in classical electromagnetism should also be treated fully relativistically at some point in order to avoid unnecessary confusions concerning issues like "hidden momentum" and apparent paradoxes with situations like the homopolar generator in connection with the (integral form) of Faraday's law. All this is marvelously exhibited in the Feynman Lectures. You are, of course, right concerning your complain about the lack of appropriate problem sets, but otherwise this is a great introductory textbook for physics majors. Feynman himself considered it a failure, but I don't think that it is. Of course you always have to take a choice from most if not any textbook to be covered in an acual lecture or course of lectures. There is by far too much material in Feynman Lect. II to be covered in the one theory semester foreseen in the BSc theory course (in Germany; maybe in the US you have 2 semesters time for classical E&M; then most of Feynman II should be doable).
     
  21. Dec 23, 2015 #20
    Is the 2nd edition of Halliday's Physics just as good as the 4th/5th edition? Because I order the 2nd edition but it still hasn't come yet, so maybe I can cancel it and order the 5th edition.

    Edit: Or what about the third edition?
     
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