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Good physics books for someone who is not a complete beginner.

  1. Nov 13, 2014 #1
    I am already familiar with High school math and physics. I have also studied Calculus(vector included), Differential Equations and basic electrodynamics in freshman year in college and I want to take it a step further. Which books should I study to strengthen my physics background if I want to pursue higher education in the field ? Currently, I am studying aerospace engineering.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2014 #2
    Well, if you are a college student, surely you can take physics courses?

    Also, when you say you want to pursue higher education, do you mean in aerospace engineering or physics?
  4. Nov 14, 2014 #3
    Yes, I can take physics courses and I do plan to take a few in the upcoming semesters. Although, there can be time-table constraints with some of my core courses and also, there are prerequisites to most of the courses. I have two months before the next semester starts. So, I 'd like to get myself familiar with the next level topics beforehand.

    I want to go for higher education in astronomy and astrophysics.
  5. Aug 12, 2015 #4
    For your background, I would recommend the following first:

    Classical Mechanics by Taylor
    Classical Electrodynamics by Griffiths

    These should be relatively easy for you given your stated math profile, but you'll learn a lot with relatively little suffering. Once you are done with those (or at least with the "required" chapters in each) you can move up to more difficult material, such as:

    Classical Mechanics by Goldstein AND/OR Landau (yes, CM again)
    Modern Electrodynamics by Zwangwill OR Classical Electrodynamics by Schwinger (yes, ED again)
    Principles of Quantum Mechanics by R. Shankar
    Statistical Mechanics in a Nutshell by Peliti

    These books above cover a pretty good basic core for graduate physics. There are many more specialized or advanced topics that may interest you. If you're thinking of astronomy/astrophysics, then a pretty handy book to have is:

    An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Carroll & Ostlie (I used this one extensively for my Master's)

    Also, you can use the following as mathematical supplements:

    Basic Training in Mathematics by R. Shankar (great for "understanding", i.e., knowing what you're doing mathematically, though very informal)
    Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by M. Boas (great for "doing", i.e., practicing until you can do things automatically)
    Physical Mathematics by Kevin Cahill (graduate level, for use only after you percieve the previous two as "too basic" or "not rigorous enough")

    The following are short, succint, modern (and sometimes quite advanced) books by Cambridge Press that cover many of these topics:

    A Student's Guide to Vectors and Tensors
    A Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations
    A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
    A Student's Guide to Entropy

    There may be more books in this series that I'm not aware of.

    Obviously, if you're on a budget, you'll have to prioritize, find used books, search the library, etc.
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