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Good books on physics for a beginner?

  1. Jul 5, 2009 #1
    Hello, I am a high school physics enthusiast (classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, relativity, astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, particle physics, anything about light and gravity etc) but I'm just a beginner, and I would like to learn more about the above mentioned concepts. I am going to be a high school senior and I have taken AP Physics B last year, so I have a background on the basic concepts of physics. Unfortunately, I dont know much math. I'd taken precal last year, and I'm self studying calculus as of now, and I'm almost done with basic calculus. Can anyone please recommend some good books on these topics on physics that I should study, considering my limitation to basic calculus? All I've really read so far is Six Easy Pieces by Feynman, From Quarks to Cosmos by Lederman and Schramm, and I'll soon be reading Six not so easy pieces. Feel free to recommend as many books as you please, I'm ready to read as many as I can before summer ends! Thanks a millions! :D
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2009 #2
    btw, I've read the physics textbook: College Physics by Serway/Faughn, 6th Edition and understood most of it
     
  4. Jul 5, 2009 #3

    malawi_glenn

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    I think you should study hard on the math, and then pick up real collage physics books =) You should know basic algebra with complex numbers, differentiations, integrals, some basic differential equations. The language of physics is math hehe
     
  5. Jul 5, 2009 #4
    Well, I know everything that you mentioned by differential equations. And I'm really good with all the math that I know (upto calculus). Can you name a few specific books? Textbooks? Anything?
     
  6. Jul 5, 2009 #5

    malawi_glenn

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    ok, try to pick up Advanced Physics by Adams, or classical mechanics by taylor, and then try to start learning more about linear algebra (vectors and matrices) and multivariable calculus.
     
  7. Jul 5, 2009 #6
    Thanks a lot! :biggrin:
     
  8. Jul 5, 2009 #7
    What would you say about "Physics" by Halliday/Resnick/Krane? Should I get that or Adams? or both?
     
  9. Jul 5, 2009 #8

    malawi_glenn

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    By the way, in this subforum we don't ask for books, we have a science books forum, where your question has been asked 100 of times.

    In this sub forum, we post free learning materials which can be found on internet, please have a look around for some.
     
  10. Jul 5, 2009 #9

    malawi_glenn

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    Resnick is a classic, everybody uses it. Go to the library and try a couple of books named "university physics" etc til you find something you like and can handle.
     
  11. Jul 5, 2009 #10
    I'm sorry about that.... I'm still relatively new to PF. But I'll be sure to not make that mistake from now onwards. :)
     
  12. Jul 5, 2009 #11

    malawi_glenn

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    it's ok, best way to learn is to make mistakes ;)
     
  13. Jul 5, 2009 #12
    I live in a very small city, with a very small library, so I buy used books from amazon after asking around and reading reviews on the books
     
  14. Jul 5, 2009 #13

    malawi_glenn

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    ok, then you could really try to dig into the library here, so you don't waste any money

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=220910

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=220911 [Broken]

    http://www.physics.unlv.edu/~jeffery/astro/astro1/lecture.html#contents [Broken]

    etc etc etc
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  15. Jul 5, 2009 #14
    thanks
     
  16. Jul 6, 2009 #15
  17. Jul 6, 2009 #16
    That link is a good place to start. You want to become a master at calculus and differential equations. I suggest these three books for calculus:

    https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Mic...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246856760&sr=8-1" by Michael Spivak
    This is a very good book. I haven't read it, but it has been highly recommended to me. There is also a solutions manual for this book which is good for self-study.

    https://www.amazon.com/Differential...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246857045&sr=1-1" by John Courant
    This is a fantastic book in terms of the intuition and ideas behind calculus. It is a very physical approach by one of the great mathematicians/physicists of the 20th century. There is also an https://www.amazon.com/Introduction...sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246857028&sr=1-3" that is supposed to be better for US type calculus programs.

    https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Vol...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246857179&sr=1-1" by Tom Apostol
    This is probably the most difficult or at least most dry of the three books listed here, but it is a very clean book. These are the best three books on calculus around, so if you learn from these, you will be well ahead of other entering students.

    These books are expensive. Any public library has an interlibrary loan program. So you can request these books through interlibrary loan and they will find these books at another library. I've never had interlibrary loan not turn up a book.

    In terms of physics, the book by https://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals...sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246857751&sr=1-1" by Feynman.

    Use your public library to get these books! Once you get accepted in university, they should have a good library. If not, use their interlibrary loan. It is a fantastic way to get books that your local library doesn't have, and for some reason, not many people know about it or use it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  18. Jul 6, 2009 #17

    malawi_glenn

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    ZapperZ's famous thread:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=240792

    You should stay away from Feynman's "Character of physical law", it is a "philosophical" book written by a non-scholar philosopher, so there are better books out there regarding the more philosophical nature of physics.
     
  19. Jul 6, 2009 #18
    I don't think it is good advice telling someone to stay away from a book because of a personal preference. Anything written by Feynman is something to be read in my opinion. If his so-called poor philosophy inhibited his success as a physicist it would be hard to tell. It is also worthwhile noting that the book is simply a transcription of a lecture series he gave.
     
  20. Jul 6, 2009 #19

    malawi_glenn

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    We all recommend books by personal preference, why can't one UN-recommend books by personal preference?

    Many great physicists have written "philosophical" books about physics, like Jeans and Heisenberg, and they all have their place in a physicists bookshelf, but when it comes to the "the real deal" one should ask the experts, and an expert in the nature of science is someone who is trained in philosophy. We would not recommend biologists views on physics the first thing we do right? and so on, what I wanted to say is that for a first exposure of the philosophical view of physics, one should consult "experts", then when one has gained maturity, one can go to other viewpoints - of course it is always interesting to know what practitioners of a certain field has as viewpoint on their own activity and compare it with others viewpoints.

    I motivated why I don't consider Feynmans book on the nature of physical law to be a good choice, I did not say "oh it is just a crappy book", so can you MOTIVATE why you think it IS a readable book, besides that you "think anything written by Feyman is something to be read" ;-)
     
  21. Jul 6, 2009 #20

    malawi_glenn

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    Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering: A Comprehensive Guide (by Riley and Hobson) contains all you need to know at the beginning, there are many cheap copies on amazon, and there is also solution guides which you can buy there as well.

    Same holds for Resnicks Fundamentals of physics, solution guides are good if you want to self study.
     
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