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Good Books to use to Study Particle Physics

  1. Feb 25, 2013 #1
    I'm in tenth grade and am interested in studying physics. I've heard that the best way to get started is to have an understanding of elementary physics, so can anyone recommend some books and websites to get started? I have practically no background at the moment, so a general overview would be helpful. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2013 #2
    If you're just interested in some popular science books, then I'm sure you can find many of these. They are often very fun to read and give an idea what physics is roughly about.

    However, pop sci books won't help you understand the topic. If you want to gain real understanding, then you will have to study physics rigorously. But it will take years of dedicated study before you can do something like particle physics. Many people lack the discipline for such a study, or they lack the motivation, or they even find out that physics is boring and not at all what they thought it was! (Yes, particle physics is entirely different from how it is presented in the popular media!!)

    Anyway, if you're truly interested in a rigorous and real understanding, then the most important thing to study now is mathematics. Make sure you are very comfortable with basic algebra, trigonometry, geometry, precalculus,... I highly recommend the book "basic mathematics" by Lang. This book contains everything of mathematics (before calculus) that one needs to know of high school. Lang is a mathematician though, and his style is mathematical. You may dislike this. But do check out the book.

    After the basic mathematics, you can do some algebra based physics. This is very boring. They will basically just give you the formulas and you will have to solve questions by plugging in values in the formulas. But it might make you familiar with a lot of concepts used commonly in physics.

    Instead of doing algebra based physics, you can just skip it and move directly to calculus based physics. Of course, you need to have a good grasp on basic calculus first. Usually, a Calculus I suffices (and a bit of Calculus II perhaps). Some good calculus books are Lang: https://www.amazon.com/First-Course-Calculus-Undergraduate-Mathematics/dp/0387962018 and Kleppner: https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Calculus-Self-Teaching-Guide-2nd/dp/0471827223 and Kline: https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Intuitive-Physical-Approach-Mathematics/dp/0486404536
    Once you know a bit of calculus, you can study books like Halliday and Resnick. These books are better than algebra based physics, but they are still boring. But it is a beginning. Later on, the physics will be much more interesting and challenging.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Feb 25, 2013 #3


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  5. Feb 26, 2013 #4
    I am IN precalculus right now. I took algebra 2/trig last year, and geometry in 8th grade. With that kind of math knowledge, what should I be doing right now?
  6. Feb 26, 2013 #5
    Then I guess you can either do an algebra-based physics book. Or you can work through a calculus book. I recommend the latter since algebra-based physics is really boring. Physics is only fun with calculus.
  7. Feb 27, 2013 #6
    Ok thanks!
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