I need recommendations to read about physics

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  • #26
While it has some shortcomings (like its treatment of relativity... needs more use of spacetime diagrams),
I think the Feynman Lectures are a good place to start.
https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/
(You may not get a lot of it at first, but you can always go back.
It has some interesting insights.)

For modern introductory textbooks
(which are not of the Halliday&Resnick type),
I like
Matter & Interactions by Chabay and Sherwood
https://matterandinteractions.org/
and
Six Ideas that Shaped Physics by Moore.
http://www.physics.pomona.edu/sixideas/


From there, you'll be better prepared to continue to more advanced topics.

my $0.02.
Thanks for the reccomendations
 
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  • #27
vanhees71
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While it has some shortcomings (like its treatment of relativity... needs more use of spacetime diagrams),
I think the Feynman Lectures are a good place to start.
https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/
(You may not get a lot of it at first, but you can always go back.
It has some interesting insights.)
Sure, the Feynman lectures are the 2nd-best general textbooks ever written (1st place is Sommerfeld), but I think they are also rather for beginning undergrads at the university than to start from highschool level. Here one should rather start with a good experimental-physics book like Halliday or Tipler. The only thing, one should not use is anything labeled "calculus free". That's confusing the subject unnecessarily. There's no way to understand physics without learning to talk in the language of nature, which is math (mostly geometry in a wide sense).
 
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  • #28
robphy
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Sure, the Feynman lectures are the 2nd-best general textbooks ever written (1st place is Sommerfeld), but I think they are also rather for beginning undergrads at the university than to start from highschool level. Here one should rather start with a good experimental-physics book like Halliday or Tipler. The only thing, one should not use is anything labeled "calculus free". That's confusing the subject unnecessarily. There's no way to understand physics without learning to talk in the language of nature, which is math (mostly geometry in a wide sense).
While Feynman's target audience is the beginning undergraduate ( https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/info/popular_misconceptions_about_FLP.html ),
I think beginning high-school students can read parts of its (skimming over details) to get a sense of the subject. It will likely take multiple passes to more fully absorb the details.
(I bought my copy of the texts when I started high-school and it was tough at first... but I kept at it.)
Unlike the standard textbooks, I think Feynman conversational tone entices the reader to continue on,
...and, since it's Feynman, I expect interesting insights.


Sommerfeld is probably more appropriate for an intermediate/advanced undergraduate.
(Maybe one can just skim the Lagrange equations in Ch 2 of Mechanics. :smile:
Admittedly, the side comment on Liouville's theorem for elastic collision of two particles was enlightening. :cool:)

While traditional texts like Halliday, Tipler, Serway, etc... are good,
I like these newer [calculus-based] texts by Chabay&Sherwood and by Moore
because they are more modern in the sense that they
  • present the concepts with a deeper physical interpretation
    (connecting with the atomic nature of matter and with more advanced theoretical ideas)
    than is found in traditional texts
    [Both texts emphasize conservation laws and other fundamental principles from the beginning and remind you throughout the material;
    Moore introduces quantum ideas using the 2-state system, stat-mech ideas using the Einstein solid, and relativity with spacetime diagrams].
    I think this is a sturdier bridge to the more advanced topics in physics.

  • use and encourage computation [ Chabay&Sherwood developed VPython/Glowscript ]
  • informed by aspects of physics education research
Along the lines of Halliday, I like this calculus-based text
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0471370991/?tag=pfamazon01-20
" Built on the foundations of Halliday, Resnick, and Walker's Fundamentals of Physics Sixth Edition, this text is designed to work with interactive learning strategies that are increasingly being used in physics instruction (for example, microcomputer-based labs, interactive lectures, etc. )."

Among non-calculus texts, I like Hewitt's Conceptual Physics ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_physics )
 
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  • #29
Vanadium 50
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Guys, let's be realistic. We have an 8th grader here.

Are graduate-level textbooks appropriate? (No matter how good?)
Are advanced undergraduate textbooks appropriate? (Again, no matter how good?)
Are calculus-based texts appropriate? As a reminder, a text normally taught to college sophomores is six years beyond where the OP is.
 
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  • #30
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CallMeDirac said:
Newtonian physics is the name of the study I dont know why you mentioned him specifically.
I think that it shouldn't be perplexing to you to see Newton mentioned specifically in remarks about Newtonian physics, or even in remarks about something else ##-## after all, the man was truly remarkable.
The Dirac equation simply shows the existence of positrons and the 4 states of 1/2 spin particles.
The Dirac equation has many important implications.
Though I lack a ¨ deep¨ understanding of mathematics I still understand it well enough.
Given your self-acknowledged absence of a deep understanding, it's not obvious how you might justify your being confident that you understand well enough to have an adequate foundation for the study of theoretical physics.

I don't mean to be too much of a naysayer, here ##-## although I agree with @robphy regarding the Feynman Lectures being rather advanced, and I wouldn't recommend them as a substitute for a good introductory textbook, I nevertheless think that they're very likey to reward and stimulate your fascination, along with imparting a greater appreciation of what is involved in the study of physics.

Allong with that, you might enjoy Thirty Years that Shook Physics, by Gerorge Gamov (who was a real physicist as well as a popular author) ##-## not for learning quantum mechanics, but for the marvelous story it tells.
 
  • #31
I think that it shouldn't be perplexing to you to see Newton mentioned specifically in remarks about Newtonian physics, or even in remarks about something else ##-## after all, the man was truly remarkable.
The Dirac equation has many important implications.
Given your self-acknowledged absence of a deep understanding, it's not obvious how you might justify your being confident that you understand well enough to have an adequate foundation for the study of theoretical physics.

I don't mean to be too much of a naysayer, here ##-## although I agree with @robphy about the Feynman Lectures being rather advanced, and I wouldn't recommend them as a substitute for a good introductory textbook, even so, I think that they're very likey to reward and stimulate your fascination, along with imparting a greater appreciation of what is involved in the study of physics.

Allong with that, you might enjoy Thirty Years that Shook Physicsby Gerorge Gamov (who was a real physicist as well as a popular author) ##-## not for learning quantum mechanics, but for the marvelous story it tells.
Thanks for the reccomendation, I dont know why I was agitated in my remarks I am clearly not prepared for even the basics of theoretical physics and I think I didnt want to hear that.
 
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  • #32
Guys, let's be realistic. We have an 8th grader here.

Are graduate-level textbooks appropriate? (No matter how good?)
Are advanced undergraduate textbooks appropriate? (Again, no matter how good?)
Are calculus-based texts appropriate? As a reminder, a text normally taught to college sophomores is six years beyond where the OP is.

Yes, an 8th grader who joined to seek learning on a subject taught to people more than half a decade older than me, though you all have more experience and maybe I overestimate myself. However I will read any suggestions you give
 
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Thanks for the reccomendation, I dont know why I was agitated in my remarks I am clearly not prepared for even the basics of theoretical physics and I think I didnt want to hear that.
Live and learn, learn and grow ##-## the best rewards of understanding, along with the eureka moments, come from building ##-## we can all see the value of Newton's "shoulders of giants" remark . . .
 
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  • #34
Live and learn, learn and grow ##-## the best rewards of understanding, along with the eureka moments, come from building ##-## we can all see the value of Newton's "shoulders of giants" remark . . .
I too hope to see further than any other has.
 
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  • #35
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Yes, an 8th grader who joined to seek learning on a subject taught to people more than half a decade older than me, though you all have more experience and maybe I overestimate myself. However I will read any suggestions you give
When I was a HS freshman, the Earth Science class teacher (who also taught Physics and who had a PhD in propulsion systems dynamics), when I complained about the course material, told me that I over-estimated myself and under-estimated the course ##-## I liked that teacher, and in my junior year I took his electronics class ##-## it was the first year that an electronics class was offered there.
 
  • #36
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I would recommend books like those of Brian Greene, or youtube videos like PBS or The Science Asylum :) Whatever you do: good luck !
 
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  • #38
vanhees71
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I would recommend books like those of Brian Greene, or youtube videos like PBS or The Science Asylum :) Whatever you do: good luck !
I couldn't disagree more :-(. I think Greene's books are among the worst popular-science books I've ever read. There are very few good popular-science books. One is Weinberg, The three minutes (about the big bang), another Ledermann, The god particle (the title is stupid but the content is great).
 
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  • #39
robphy
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I got really interested in physics in 6th grade, and relativity in 7th grade,
after my dad called me down to watch the following on PBS tv:
Einstein's Universe ( see below for the video, which is now available online by the film distributor ).
My uncle then gave me a book, which was a "gift" given to him for being a supporter of public television:
the accompanying book by Nigel Calder ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/0517385708/?tag=pfamazon01-20 )!

I ate that book up... and was thirsty for more.
I went through various pop-science books...
which offered what seemed like wild, but interesting ideas, but no details.

I then realized that for me to really get anywhere,
I had to read textbooks.

So, even if I wasn't ready to read and study the textbooks as if I were taking a course at the time,
I read what I could to get a glimpse of what the big ideas are
and a glimpse of the details I would need to someday understand those big ideas.
I got The Feynman Lectures on Physics and tried my best to read and re-read various passages.
It was low-pressure, occasional reading.

In high-school and in college,
in addition to the textbook for the course,
I would occasionally get the textbook for the next course,
again to get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

So, I stand by my comments [here and earlier] about the Feynman Lectures for the OP, an 8th-grader.
And these days, there are a lot of resources available online
e.g. https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/
and https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+feynman+lectures

and now,...
Here is Einstein's Universe (1979)... starring Peter Ustinov, Nigel Calder,
with appearances by Sidney Drell, Roger Penrose, Dennis Sciama, Irwin Shapiro, John Archibald Wheeler, and others
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6061610/

 
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  • #40
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I would recommend books like those of Brian Greene
I second @vanhees71's disagreement with this recommendation. Brian Greene's books are notorious for causing misunderstandings (and we have a lot of past threads here on PF caused by those misunderstandings).
 
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  • #41
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I think many of us (physicists) got interested in relativity, quantum mechanics, and absolute zero, etc at about the same time the poster did, around sixth - ninth grade. You have asked for recommendations from us who have studied physics for a lot longer than you have.
In looking at your original post for recommendations about reading physics, I realize that your request is a correct one. Until the post by Robophy, I think most of us misunderstood your request, to be which books should I "study".
Study is different than reading. The proper study of physics requires a background obtained over several years, and begins with (Newtonian and analytical) mechanics, and the supporting mathematical analysis (the calculus, and other advanced methods). But this was not asked for by the poster.
Reading physics, is no less important in the early (say teen-age) preparation of the future physicist, but it has a different goal. Reading should challenge the imagination, and inspire to a greater degree than the textbooks that one reads in the beginning of the "study" of physics, to begin later on. A healthy dose of imagination and inspiration will sustain you later, as the study of physics becomes more demanding, physically and emotionally.
I can recommend you examine and perhaps begin a "study" of first-year college physics, like Beiser, early parts of Resnick and Halliday, but it is probably better to spend more time with books like Robophy suggests. Calder has that good book , and equally (perhaps better) books on life sciences.

To the poster, I propose a question. You mention you have developed an interest in quantum physics. What have you read or seen so far that you find interesting? In this way, we can suggest follow-on material along the same lines that you may also enjoy reading.
 
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  • #42
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Off the top of my head, I can remember some really good books that inspire, but they are old and may be out of print now:

George Gamow: one two three infinity,
Gamow: Matter, Earth, Sky
Martin Gardner, Relativity for the Million (I think this was the title.)
Many good books by Gardner, and Gamow

Isaac Asimov: The Intelligent Man's guide to the Physical Sciences
Asimov: The intelligent man's guide to the life sciences
Many good books by Asimov. Asimov was popular when I was an undergraduate, among many chemistry students.

Not sure of math level but the more recent:

Styer, Daniel F: Relativity for the Questioning Mind.
 
  • #43
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Thanks for the reccomendation, I dont know why I was agitated in my remarks I am clearly not prepared for even the basics of theoretical physics and I think I didnt want to hear that.
To me this means you will eventually go far. This level of self-awareness is uncommon amongst 8th graders....knowing where you stand is exactly what you need for growth so in that sense you are ahead of the curve.

I remember high school physics without calculus.....It was brutal. Physics with calculus was much easier because calculus organized everything to me.

I think the best thing for you to do is dive deep into math. Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calc, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra.

I think once you know these subjects well you are playing with an almost full deck. It will take time, but like I said you're ahead of the curve and it's never too early to start. You seem genuinely interested.

I don't know where you live but in my area there is a store called "Half-Price Books" where you can buy used textbooks for cheap. It is a goldmine.
 
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  • #44
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Is Somerfled Sommerfeld?
It's December; obviously summer fled!
 

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