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Good Book(s) for Self-learning Classical Physics

  1. Oct 18, 2011 #1
    Hello PF group. Long time reader, first time poster.

    Can someone please make some recommendations for a good classical physics text book, particularity suited to self-learning classical physics? I'd also like the recommendation to not be calculus based. My preferences are for something comprehensive, with many examples and practice exercises, since I would be studying and evaluated my performance on my own. Subjects to be included:

    Newton's Laws
    Conservation Laws
    Applications of Newtonian Mechanics
    Waves and Optics
    Electricity and Magnetism

    I'm decently versed on all the above topics, I'd just like something to review to solidify my skills before I start my university course.

    Any input would be appreciated. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2011 #2


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    I always recommend for such learning the Feynman's Lectures on Physics - many editions in all languages...
    You may also try (free) Christoph Schiller's Motion Mountain: http://motionmountain.net/ - some of my (especially young) students like it more than Feynman's - it is more 'pop-culture' attractive, but still quite serious and reliable

    A must be harsh: you can't avoid calculus while studying physics at university (or even college) level.
  4. Oct 18, 2011 #3
    Thanks, I'm looking for an alternative to Feynman. Additionally, I do not like learning large amounts of information online. Check out - The Shallows by Carr.

    I'm not trying to avoid calculus, in fact I love calculus. I just want to solidify my intuitive understanding before I bring calculus into the picture, even if that only means a superficial understanding of the true nature of things.
  5. Oct 20, 2011 #4
    If you want to learn freshmen physics i suggest - University Physics by Young & Freeman will suffice. It covers Netwonian Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Optics, Electricity&Magnetism, Special Relativity + some modern physics.
    Should be at its 11th or 12th edition.

    If you want a little more advance classical mechanics text that covers Calculus of Variation, Lagrangian & Hamiltonian Formalism , Two Body Problems etc. , try:

    Analytical Mechanics - Fowles & Cassiday (easiest to read imo)
    Classical Dynamics of Particles and system - Marion & Thorton,
    Analytical Mechanics - Hand & Finch,
    Classical Mechanics - Goldstein (might be alittle tough)
    Classical Mechanics - Kibble

    hope this helps

  6. Oct 20, 2011 #5
    Thanks for the suggestions, I will look over these titles at the library.

    After my post has been reclassified, I've read over the other threads in this category and am realizing the redundancy of my question. Although, it's always best to get more input.

    Thanks again.
  7. Oct 20, 2011 #6
    Since you do know calculus, you should not really worry about starting with a calculus-based book. Most "university" physics books have to start out light on calculus and ramp up gradually because they can't assume mastery from Freshman students.

    Feynman was teaching at Caltech, so the math level ramps up pretty quickly.

    An old edition of Halliday & Resnick's Fundamentals of Physics covers all your topics and the light amount of calculus used (at least in the beginning) should not get in the way of intuition. Or get an old edition of Physics (no "Fundamentals" in the title) for more challenging problem sets.
  8. Oct 24, 2011 #7
    Thanks, I've heard good things about Halliday and Resnick's books. I've also heard good things about Kleppner and Kolenkow. Any feedback on their book Mechanics?

    I'm a big fan of Spivak's Calculus. Self-contained and rigorous. I don't learn much from door-stop sized plug-and-chug style books.
  9. Oct 24, 2011 #8
    Since it has been mentioned yet, I like Serway's Physics for Scientists and Engineers.

    I am currently using Fundamentals of Physics (9th edition extended) and I must say it is a good book.
  10. Oct 24, 2011 #9
    I am taking Electrical and Computer Engineering in the fall, so I do appreciate the practical aspect of books like Serway. Thanks.
  11. Dec 5, 2011 #10
    To learn classical mechanics, what are the mathematical aspects that one needs to be aware of? Usually a textbook like goldstein takes how many months to read?
  12. Dec 10, 2011 #11
    I guess people dont see threads after all.. What a drag
  13. Dec 10, 2011 #12
    Your question was rather vague; I'm not surprised it wasn't answered. Classical Mechanics? What's that? Is it what's covered in Spivak's Mechanics book, or is it the non-calculus based mechanics, or maybe even the calculus based mechanics? Also, textbooks take a varying amount of time to work through. Working through a few chapters, a few problems, or all of the book, and how much time is allotted every day?

    Non-calculus based classical mechanics should not take very long to complete, maybe a little under 3 months for an in-depth coverage.
    Rigorous calculus-based mechanics? Expect a bit more time dedicated to understanding all the derivations and what-not.

    Be good with : vectors, trigonometry, some calculus (if calc-based), and a lot of algebra. Mostly problem solving too.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  14. Dec 10, 2011 #13
    Ok thanks.. To start up with classical mechanics, what methods do u suggest? I mean im yet to start.. I really gotta give it a go.. Tell some tips, structured format of studying or so?
  15. Dec 10, 2011 #14
    I'm not sure of what you are asking here. The best way to do it (assuming self-study) is to pick up a book mentioned above (I liked Halliday and Resnick), reads the chapters carefully. Work through all the examples. Supplement that with some online videos (Khanacademy maybe?) and then work through as many problems as you can.
  16. Dec 10, 2011 #15
    What would happen if i try to work out problems from standard texts? Before that, i should know some basics.. Would resnick support that and i can carry with standard texts? If still not capable of handling standard texts, then why?
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