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How could one learn modern physics?

  1. Oct 29, 2012 #1
    Hi, I'm teaching myself physics and i started with Physics For Scientist and engineers 6th edition Tipler standard edition (without modern physics chapters), and i'm now finished of it and wish to begin learning modern physics.
    What is the best modern physics textbook that should i study?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2012 #2
    What kind of modern physics? What kind of mathematical background do you have?
  4. Oct 29, 2012 #3
    I want to study the same subjects courses that physics majors take at university. I have taken two courses in calculus and differential equations.
  5. Oct 29, 2012 #4


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    Is one refering to topics like special relativity and quantum mechanics?
  6. Oct 29, 2012 #5
    (As Wiki puts it)
    These are generally considered to be the topics regarded as the "core" of the foundation of modern physics:

    Atomic theory and the evolution of the atomic model in general
    Black body radiation
    Franck–Hertz experiment
    Geiger–Marsden experiment (Rutherford's experiment)
    Gravitational lensing
    Michelson–Morley experiment
    Photoelectric effect
    Quantum thermodynamics
    Radioactive phenomena in general
    Perihelion precession of Mercury
    Stern–Gerlach experiment
    Wave–particle duality

    They leave out Einsteinian Relativity, which is a HUGE part of modern physics.
    I would get very familiar with Relativity, because its at the heart of a lot of modern physics concepts.
  7. Oct 29, 2012 #6
    Its seems Astronuc and I replied at the same time! and we seem to agree!
  8. Oct 29, 2012 #7
    I wish to know what is the best textbook that i can learn from?? Does a book like Modern Physics For Scientists and Engineers 4th edition cover all the foundations of modern physics or should i use many textbooks?
  9. Oct 29, 2012 #8
    ..well (although I havent read it)

    "Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity" by Sean Carroll
    is said to be good....I would also read Einsteins Actual work as well.

    Also, Leonard Susskind has some GREAT in depth lectures from his course on relativity at Stanford on youtube. Those are VERY good lectures that you should check out.
  10. Oct 29, 2012 #9
    be aware Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity is a graduate level text
  11. Oct 29, 2012 #10
    Thank you so much ^_^ FeynmanIsCool.
  12. Oct 29, 2012 #11
  13. Oct 29, 2012 #12


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    Staff: Mentor

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  14. Oct 29, 2012 #13
    Thank you very much... I want to study the subjects that physics majors take.. can i depend on this book from now on to be like a physics major? or there are more books that i must study??
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  15. Oct 29, 2012 #14
    That book is a good introduction. A physics major will have to read quite a few books before grad school and then a bunch in grad school. I thought tipler was a pretty good intro book, but I can't compare it to much at the same level. Tipler will take a while if you actually learn the material, so worry about that before you go buy a load of books.
  16. Oct 29, 2012 #15


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    Staff: Mentor

    Of course there are! :biggrin: After the introductory level there are more advanced core classes in classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Then there are more specialized classes like particle physics, solid-state physics, etc. Look at a few university web sites and see their curricula for physics majors.
  17. Oct 30, 2012 #16
    Here is a really good one:

    The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next

    By Lee Smolin

    Link removed by moderator
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2012
  18. Oct 30, 2012 #17
    While that may be a good book, it is not an undergrad text. It is a popsci book. That is also a questionable link. I'm not sure what the forum rules are concerning such sites.
  19. Oct 30, 2012 #18
    The forum rules state that such sites are not allowed. Please report such posts.
  20. Oct 30, 2012 #19
    I searched in universities websites many times, but i couldn't choose the textbooks that cover the curriculum.

    Do you know "Motion Mountain: The Adventure Of Physics"? Is it useful to read it after reading an introductory modern physics textbook?

    I took a look at that book, I found it so friendly and explain things simply. But I would like to know how comprehensive it is.

    Let's say that someone studied:
    1. Physics for scientists and engineers Tipler.
    2. Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers Taylor.
    3. Motion Mountain (in it's six volumes).

    So does he then cover 50% of physics undergrad curriculum, more or less?
    Thanks in advance.
  21. Oct 30, 2012 #20
    That would be a little more than half the curriculum of a physics minor at my school. Not even close to half a major. That is the introduction that you would get freshmen/sophmore. Then you would take E&M, classical mech, quantum mech, stat mech/thermo, maybe optics, mathematical physics, and probably some research with a professor. That is also just the theoretical side. You would also take a bunch of labs which involve a lot more than just measuring things.

    Also, that Motion Mountain seems like a cool book with lots of info, but it seems really fluffy in some spots. I only read a page or two so maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed like physics for the non-major. I might be wrong.

    Are you trying to just get a basic understanding of physics or do you want to really teach yourself physics. The former will be difficult but fun, the latter will require a significant amount of effort. It takes most people 4 years to get through undergrad with other people helping them out.

    Why don't you start with an overview of modern physics from something like motion mountain, Modern Physics by Tipler or the Feynman Lectures, and then ask for advice on other books. I have 13 physics books in front of me at my computer. I don't think it would be helpful if everyone listed all of the physics books they read as undergrads.
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