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Good Books to Prepare for Junior Level Physics Classes?

  1. Nov 27, 2013 #1

    esuna

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    I'm a physics major and it looks like my next classes will be a 300-level mechanics class and 300-level E&M class next fall. The problem is, I'm at CC right now and I took all the "tough" classes last year (calculusII,III, University Physics, Diffy Q) and I just have programming and biology this year. This means that by next fall I will have gone over a year without any calculus or calculus-based physics work and will be jumping straight into upper-level Physics classes.

    I'd like to get a head start on at least the mechanics class, so I'd like to pick up a book to work through during the intercession/spring/summer terms whenever I have spare time. It must comply with this description:

    310-3 Classical Mechanics. Review of Newtonian mechanics
    of particles and rigid bodies, and Lagrangian and Hamiltonian
    dynamics.

    I've been considering Marion/Thornton Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems. Anybody have any experience with this book?

    Please feel free to suggest a good E&M book as well. And it might also be useful to have a couple of books on calculus and differential equations, respectively, to have around to refer to/refresh my memory. Any suggestions would be helpful. I'm a bit new to the whole "self study" thing, but I think it would be useful for me to get a head start due to the extended absence of calc/physics in my life.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2013 #2
    Mechanics: Kleppner https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Mechanics-Daniel-Kleppner-ebook/dp/B00AKE1XE8
    E&M: Purcell https://www.amazon.com/Electricity-Magnetism-Edward-M-Purcell/dp/1107014026

    It's hard to beat these books. I think they're an absolute must to a physics major.

    For differential equations, the following book by Simmons is very good: https://www.amazon.com/Differential-Equations-Applications-Historical-Notes/dp/0070575401
    He has another book on calculus, but I have not yet looked at that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Nov 27, 2013 #3

    jasonRF

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    Working through a mechanics or EM book is a great idea. You will learn physics, and identify any weaknesses in your math background early enough to do something about it! By the way, have you learned vector calculus (divergence, curl, grad, etc), and have you taken linear algebra?

    Anyway, there are a lot of relevant book reviews in the physics and astronomy sub-forum here:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=224

    You will find threads on Marion and Thornton (where I give my experience), as well as the books recommended by R136a1.

    For intermediate mechanics, the standard books seem to by marion and thornton and "classical mechanics" by Taylor. The mechanics book recommended by R136a1, Kleppner, is often used for honors freshman classes; it doesn't have lagrangians and hamiltonians but is a nice step between what you have taken and what your intermediate mechanics course will cover. There is also a new book by Morin I have never looked at. Check out the reviews at the link I gave.

    And if you end up with Marion, please please please get a used copy of an old edition (2nd, 3rd and 4th editions can be found on amazon for <$15 including shipping).

    Jason
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Nov 27, 2013 #4

    esuna

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    Thank you for the responses! I believe my Calculus III class covered some vector calculus, and I have taken an introductory Linear Algebra class.

    Those E&M and Differential Equations books look promising. The Marion books really are super cheap as I've noticed. At the very least it wouldn't hurt to pick one up for $8.

    I'll check out some more of those reviews. Thanks guys.
     
  6. Nov 27, 2013 #5

    jasonRF

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    You should be in good shape then, math wise, to jump into the books you are looking into.

    Good luck!

    jason
     
  7. Nov 28, 2013 #6

    WannabeNewton

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    It's a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible book-stay away from it. Did I mention it's horrible?

    For junior level mechanics get "Classical Mechanics"-Taylor and for EM get "Introduction to Electrodynamics"-Griffiths (one of my absolute most favorite physics textbooks in existence).

    Kleppner and Purcell are for freshman honors physics courses and wouldn't really satisfy the requirements for junior level physics classes.
     
  8. Nov 28, 2013 #7

    esuna

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    Why is it so horrible? Feel free to link me to any specific reviews. And do you have a preference for a certain edition of the Griffiths?
     
  9. Nov 28, 2013 #8

    WannabeNewton

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    The 3rd edition is the one that I have-I don't think there's any real difference between the 3rd and 4th edition that would warrant purchasing the 4th over the 3rd.

    As for Thornton and Marion, here are the reviews that most align with my distaste for the book:

    https://www.amazon.com/review/R1TLTLW387BUWF/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R1TLTLW387BUWF
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/membe..._pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview

    By the way, it seems that Marion has some fetish for end of chapter problems that promote no physical insight whatsoever and just make you crank through a ton of tedious algebra. In my EM class we used "Classical Electromagnetic Radiation"-Heald and Marion and a noticeable number of the problems were of this nature (although not nearly as bad as the problems in Thornton and Marion).

    Kleppner and Kolenkow is my most favorite mechanics text in existence but it is, as already noted, a freshman level text. Taylor is a very widely used sophomore/junior level mechanics text and in my opinion a very good one.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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