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Greatest modern physics book?

Hello guys. Im fortunate that I have found this website and I have created an account just to ask one question. I asked this on yahoo answers as well but no luck. So here goes.

I'm 14 years old and I love astrophysics. I have learn most of the basic stuff and I've also read A brief history of time by Stephen hawking.

My next birthday is coming in a few months and I can get what ever I want. I really want a textbook which covers nearly everything about astrophysics and Quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory, super symmetry ,etc.

I'm not worried about the price or the number of pages (actually more is better), as long as it is thorough and doesn't include super basic stuff. Thanks in advance!

Oh, and I know basic calculus like differentiating and integrating basic equation. I am more than willing to learn more if a book requires a much greater understanding of calculus.

Doug Huffman

Gold Member
[ ... ]I really want a textbook which covers nearly everything about astrophysics and Quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory, super symmetry ,etc. [ ... ]
These are whole fields of study, careers of study, astrophysics, QM, GR, SR, String/M-theory, et cetera. A great textbook might cover one of these in some depth.

Benoit Mandelbrot called reality fractally complex.


Education Advisor
I can certainly appreciate the ambition. However...this: "astrophysics and Quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory, super symmetry" is essentially an entire undergraduate and graduate college career in physics. That's a lot of ground to cover.

When you say you've learned most of the basic stuff, what exactly does this entail? Have you been through classical mechanics and electromagnetism, both with calculus? If you want to dig into deeper physics, this is basically where you have to start. Quantum, relativity, and especially string theory all utilize very high level mathematics, that are very well beyond introductory differentiation and integration. Some of these topics don't necessarily require a greater understanding of calculus as such. They require completely different fields of mathematics in some instances.

You're not going to find a single textbook that covers everything about all of these topics in one volume. It simply doesn't exist. Road to Reality was linked above. That's an excellent book, but as mentioned, it's a very difficult book even for PhD's. It discusses most of these topics, but not in the depth that individual textbooks on each topic would go to. You should be aware that reading a book like this isn't going to be at all similar to reading a book like Brief History of Time. That's a fun book, but it's a purely descriptive book that doesn't involve or necessitate any type of quantitative understanding of the physics or how the physics works. Actually doing the physics behind some of the concepts discussed in BHOT is a bit formidable. A truly in depth study of a single one of these topics is typically going to require multiple textbooks alone.

It's good to have that kind of ambition. Don't let that candle blow out. But you might want to start on the ground and work your way up.

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