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How bad is kittel? Enlist for SSP?

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1

    I'm entering my third year of physics (and also the last undergraduate year in Europe) and I can select a few courses myself. In particular, in the moment I'm wondering between "Solid State Physics" and "Physics of Fluids and Soft Matter" (they would both be introductory).

    I've asked a guy who took both classes last year (I can't because I'm already taking a chunk of math) and he summarized it as: fluids is not so interesting and really easy and the lectures notes are confusing; SSP's classes are also confusing and uses Kittel which he found to be horrible, but he considered the material itself to be very interesting (and difficult).

    I know the guy well and I think our interests coincide on these matters at least, and based on the above review I'm heavily considering solid state (also because it seems that it's often given to undergraduates, and I'm going to do my masters abroad so that's also a pro for choosing solid state) [at first I was considering fluids because the description on the university site hinted at the use of statistical physics and that it's about complex systems, things which really fascinate me, but the guy that took it was able to tell me that the thermodynamics was mainly writing down the free energy and then minimalizing it, which he called "almost interesting"] but the thing is, I looked at the amazon ratings for Kittel and the ratings are horrible! So how bad is it for an introduction? Apparently we treat the first 7 or 9 chapters of the book. And say it is bad, is there something I can do to make it better? I mean, is there something I can get to accompany it so that the book won't "hurt" me?

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2011 #2
    I personally loved Kittel. I didn't find anything confusing or unclear. Also our professor followed the book quite strict. It must me noted that I had a course on crystallography before I did the course on SSP.

    Positive points are that the book has many good, descriptive figures to go with the text and formulas. It's not loaded with mathematical rigour (ideal for an introductory text) but not too low in rigour as to make everything fuzzy. I think those reviews on Amazon are also subject to people failing or almost failing the course.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3
    Ah, I see, yes many bad reviews on amazon state it is bad as an undergraduate course. Hm, do you feel you might've not liked it if you hadn't had the preparation?
  5. Sep 13, 2011 #4
    I think I would have struggled with the concept of reciprocal space which is hugely important in SSP, but that's not Kittel's fault. I found it a thorough introduction. Is the whole book covered in that one course?
  6. Sep 13, 2011 #5
    ^ above post spam?

    @ eXorikos:
    I remember him saying the first 7 or first 9 chapters
  7. Sep 13, 2011 #6
    We did the first 9 and that was ok for me. Next year we'll cover the rest in another course as part of the master programme (I'm studying in a different system than undergrad/grad, we have bachelor/master).
  8. Sep 13, 2011 #7
    bachelor/master here too, taking this in my third and final bachelor year

    thanks for your advice, you calmed my worries a bit
    (but other replies are of course always welcome)
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