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Classical Intermediate-level mechanics, not Thornton/Marion

  1. Nov 21, 2015 #1
    I'm in a classical mechanics course and the assigned textbook is Classical Dynamics of Systems and Particles by Marion and Thornton. I'm really not finding it to be especially useful. The examples in the chapters aren't diverse enough, the chapters themselves don't go into enough detail for me to understand them, the examples aren't diverse enough, and the problems are interesting but their instructive ability is compromised by how difficult they can be. When a single problem is taking several hours, study time is not being used efficiently.

    It's not that I have a problem spending large amounts of time on a single problem, I can actually enjoy that, but what's wrong is that the problems in this book just aren't very good at serving as teachable exercises for the material. It throws you right into the deep end and gives you no hints about what it wants you to do, and the problem with this is that it results in a lot of wasted time while you figure out which trick it wants you to use.

    What I'm looking for is a book at a similar level but with better presentation of the subject and better problems. Ideally, a focus on linear algebra would be nice to complement the classical approach here (and also I like linear algebra), and possibly even something that covers numerical solutions.

    I also want something a little cheaper than this one was. The book and the manual together cost more than tuition for the course, which in my opinion is a little obscene.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2015 #2
    Before Marion, I learned from Symon, Mechanics. I still prefer Symon to Marion/Thornton. However, I suspect if you do not like M&T for the reasons cited, you may not necessarily like Symon.

    The fact is I think to be good at Mechanics, you have to take the time to do the problems thoroughly. I remember taking several hours on many (separate) mechanics problems. Preferably you should do the same problem from several different methods and points of view. Doing 50 problems completely is better than doing 200 problems superficially.

    I can commiserate that I do not like textbooks that present problems that can be solved by a "bag of tricks". When you use Goldstein, for advanced Mechanics, you learn how the quadratic forms they introduce allow you to solve any linear oscillations problem by a method, no bag of tricks required. I did not feel M & T used tricks but I used the book as an undergraduate (before Thornton.) 40 years ago.

    You might try Symon, Mechanics. I also found a book by Triffet in a second hand bookstore called Mechanics or Theoretical Mechanics/ Physics or something like that. I haven't seen it in years, except in libraries. This seemed pretty good.
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