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Kleppner as first time seeing physics

  1. Jul 24, 2014 #1
    Hey everybody!

    I was wondering if it's reasonable to use Kleppner as my first time learning physics? (Self-Study)

    Also what are all your opinions of Feynman's Lectures of Physics (with the problem book) as an intro, if Kleppner is over the top?

    Thank you!

    With my heart on my sleeve,
    The Thinker
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2014 #2


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    Look at what I wrote on page 3 here. That should answer your first question. I don't know FLOP.
  4. Jul 25, 2014 #3
    First time access to physics, IMBO no one can beat French's "Newtonian Mechanics".
    Then you can go to Kleppner.
    And for oscillations go back to French's "Vibrations and Waves", probably one of the best introduction to oscillating phenomena out there.

    Feynman is amazing, but I do not think his wonderful lectures are the best choice for a first approach to physics. In my opinion they are an invaluable resource after you have studied physics on more conventional textbooks. Then you could use Feynman to see if you really understood it.

    (OTOH, the second volume of Feynman's Lectures uses a more traditional approach to teaching and could be used for a first approach to electromagnetism, but you ave to add an exercise book because there are no exercises there)
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  5. Jul 28, 2014 #4


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    Neither K&K nor the Feynman Lectures is likely to work well for someone learning physics for the first time. Both are designed for students at highly selective schools who have already had high school physics. Among the commercial offerings, there isn't really anything I'd recommend wholeheartedly for calc-based physics for someone who has had no previous physics course. An OK option would be Knight, but the price is exploitative. There are a lot of free options: http://www.theassayer.org/cgi-bin/asbrowsesubject.cgi?class=Q#freeclassQC
  6. Jul 28, 2014 #5
    Thank you all!

    I do have some knowledge, but it's mostly from Youtube videos and such. What do you think of "Six Ideas That Shaped Physics" goal?

    http://www.physics.pomona.edu/sixideas/sipref.html [Broken]

    Also if I do take a different intro book, should I go back to Kleppner or just move on?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Jul 28, 2014 #6


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    YouTube videos don't really equate any knowledge in physics, and that course you posted doesn't look very good to me.

    K&K is a very good book, but like bcrowell suggests, shouldn’t be used an introductory book for someone who’s never seen physics before. Feynman lectures aren’t a text book at all, so the usefulness as a self-study material to someone who’s never seen physics before is again limited.

    Ideally you'd want to go on to something like K&K after taking a more gentle entry into calculus based physics – especially as far as self-study goes. Then you’d want to move onto E&M.

    Bcrowell posted a good free online resource, you’d be better off using something like that if you find a good classical mech resource.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Jul 28, 2014 #7


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    It seems to be aimed at students who would benefit from active learning. Strang's Calculus book is somewhat similar, and it's definitely true that there are people who do benefit from books like that.

    I can only give you my opinion on this. K&K is an amazingly good book. It makes things clearer than any other book I've seen. I always had a beef with work and energy. My beef was this, a person who carries a bucket in each hand, who extends his arms sideways so that the buckets are motionless, will get tired pretty quickly. However, according to physics no work is being done. But it is clear that energy in the form of glucose is being consumed by his muscles, chemical bonds are being broken, etc. But if no work is being done, no energy is being transformed.

    And the physics books I had seen always said something like this: "if you push a car up an incline, you are doing work. The work is the force you apply times the distance. According to physics, if the car doesn't move, no work is being performed. Even though it seems like work is being done, this is not the physics meaning of work." Are you confused?

    But K&K doesn't do that. It says, work is defined by ##w = Fs## or ##w = \int F \cdot ds##. There's no confusing comparison, there is just, work is this, bam. Perfectly clear, perfectly accurate. If you have the background, this is so much better. There's no, work is like this other thing called work that is almost nothing like this thing called work, just, work is this, period. Now go calculate with it and gain some understanding with no barriers placed in your way.

    If you have the math background, I think it's clearer and easier to just know what it is the first time. So I go completely to the other side of the argument. If you don't know physics yet, why go through that same old minefield? Just read the map that is K&K and plot your way through it the first time.

    Okay, I was sort of joking here, K&K does have a selective audience of course. But if you have the background, it is a supremely good book. Inestimably good even. That's all I can say about that.

    Onto your question, you probably should choose the one book that most suits you. Introductory physics books tend to be very comprehensive, so whatever book you choose will most likely be sufficient. So you could move on afterward. But if you find later that you are unsatisfied with what you learned, K&K could be a way to fix that, if it in fact covers what you want to learn.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Jul 28, 2014 #8


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    That said, I will capitulate in one sense to what BCrowell has said, it IS unlikely to work well for someone learning physics for the first time because it is unlikely for someone learning physics for the first time to have the mathematical background. Most people who have the background will have seen it before. Perhaps that means it is less of a good book. That is an opinion that I do appreciate, physics is not math.

    But the devil in me says, it is too good not to be a good book regardless.
  10. Aug 2, 2014 #9
    I have recently started using K&K book, and the way it explains where equations and formulas come from is enlightening. Yes, the word that describes this stellar book, is enlightening. I did have a good physics program in high school, but I can't think of any reason why someone sufficiently stimulated won't be able to "plot a way through the book".
    If you are looking for real physics, this is your book.
  11. Aug 3, 2014 #10
    I was having the same problem as you some time ago, where I decided to use Kleppner as a first exposition to physics. But I lamentably failed since I didn't have much of the basic university physics knowledge and I didn't know calculus at that time either. But I eventually found the solution which is to begin with a university physics textbook (I choosed Serway Jewett Physics for Scientists and Engineers With Modern Physics) and a standard calculus textbook which was very beneficial. I also recommend you to first read a book treating conceptual physics.
  12. Aug 3, 2014 #11


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    Did you see what I linked to in post #2? It was a little test to check if K&K is for you. When you know calculus really well, have a look at it again. You won't need to if you learn everything from Serway, but I think you still have the book, and if you do that, you will almost certainly appreciate more than before for how clear it is.
  13. Aug 3, 2014 #12
    Hmm, so I already know SV Calculus except I am a weak on my integration techniques, and from the test, my intuition isn't too bad. I guess I will just start with Kleppner. Should I learn some MV first and brush up on my integration techniques.

    If I should, where would be the quickest place to do so?
  14. Aug 3, 2014 #13


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    This is a very good question. Let me first answer your other question. A quick review of one-variable calculus is a good idea, I can think of a few reasons why:

    1) Because multivariable calculus is easier to learn when you know the single-variable theory very well.
    2) Because you may have forgotten certain things or there may be things you know less well.
    3) Because K&K is written using the language of calculus. Like any language, knowing the language allows you to use the book.
    4) Because it is usually better to separate the two phases of learning a language and learning a theory, when you don't have a teacher to guide you. Without someone to ask "but why is this the case", you want every opportunity to get every bit of understanding from the text.

    To your main question, you don't need to know multivariable calculus to start using K&K but you'll want to start learning it because by chapter 5, you'll need it. But hopefully it won't be too difficult to learn because you'll have a good base. You could also choose to learn it only as it appears in the book, this would work and is probably a nice way to do it.

    The quickest way to learn it? You asked for it: Marder's crazy book.

    For a more normal book, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0...pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846 is a cheap one or try Lang's book "Calculus of Several Variables".
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  15. Aug 3, 2014 #14
    Thanks but I finished both books now. :)
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