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Looking for a textbook/lecture series for modern physics

  • Thread starter driscol
  • Start date
  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Apparently my college doesn't offer the same intro physics courses in both semesters, and they suggest that physics majors take physics starting in their first year. Well, I never really considered being a physics major and opted to have a more liberal curriculum my first semester. It's kind of come back to kick my *** because we don't follow the traditional sequence.

This is the sequence:
PHYS 141: Mechanics
PHYS 142 or 151: Foundations of Modern Mechanics
PHYS 201: E and M
PHYS 202: Waves and Optics

I took two years of physics in high school, so I have no problem reviewing/relearning mechanics on the side over the course of spring semester. I plan on using the MIT OCW Scholar setup for this. However, the problem is that assuming I place out of 141, I can either take 151 that fall or 142 the following spring. 201 is only offered in the fall and 202 has 201 as a prerequisite. As you can see, I have to place out of both 141 and 142 in order to make up that full year if I ever want to take higher level, more specific courses.

The problem is that I haven't been able to find any lecture series that covers an intro to all modern physics. The course uses Tipler's Modern Physics, but reviews for the book aren't too stellar.

I was hoping someone on PF has come across some lectures that cover these topics or has a recommendation for a better written book (esp. considering I am learning by myself and may not have internet connection at times over the summer). Keep in mind that each topic refers to one 50 minute class, and there are three classes a week. Thanks.

Here is the syllabus:

Special Relativity: Frames of Reference
Michelson-Morley Experiment
Time Dilation and Length Contraction
Relativistic Velocity Addition
Simultaneity and Lorentz Transformations
Twin Paradox
Spacetime
Relativistic Momentum and Energy
Relativistic Collisions
Confirmations of Special Relativity
General Relativity
Blackbody Radiation
Photoelectric Effect
Compton Scattering
Hydrogen Spectrum
Bohr Atom
de Broglie's Hypothesis
Probability Interpretation of Wave Functions
Uncertainty Principle
Wave Mechanics: Schrodinger's Equation
Particle in a Box
Quantum Harmonic Oscillator
Tunneling through a Barrier
Electron Spin: Stern Gerlach Experiment
Statistical Physics
Maxwell Bolzmann Statistics
Specific Heat
Quantum Statistics
Fermi-Dirac Statistics
Band Structure and Conductivity
Bose-Einstein Statistics
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
261
1
Have you tried Modern Physics by Taylor et. al? sounds like this class is about sophomore level? If so, this book will do. You can also supplement with Feynman Lectures Vol 3 and maybe Understanding Quantum Physics by Morrison.

If you already have a Calc-Based physics text like Halliday and Resnick or something similar and the text has a Modern Physics section, then that'll probably do as well, although a standalone book like Taylor or Morrison would prob be better.
 
  • #3
141
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actually those special relativity and thermodynamics is covered in the 1st volume of Feynman lectures on physics
 
  • #4
You are asking about the material in a proper modern physics text like Tipler because you'll
be taking a class using that but it doesn't appear that you'llbe taking a course in elementary
modern physics using a standard text like Halliday/Resnickfirst.

If you're not going to be getting an elementary course in modern physics I think it would
be wise to self-teach yourself that before (or concurrently as) you use Tipler.

For learning basic mechanics, I recommend the standard hour-long M.I.T. lectures on
Lewin's along with the videos in these two links:

http://www.kiledjian.elac.org/kiledjianv_videos_01.htm
http://www.youtube.com/user/YaleCourses#g/c/FE3074A4CB751B2B

and then watching the extra videos on OCW scholar. Note that in the first link you can find
out what is going on in which lecture by comparing to the explanation given in the video
here.

Still, you really need to read a textbook as well and do nearly all the problems. But most
modern textbooks have 100+ problems & it would take 3 years to do a sizeable portion.
Who knows, you might skip too many important questions and choose trivial ones thereby
not learning??

Answer: Use a really old edition of Halliday/Resnick or Young/Freedman! Not only is the
material a bit harder (less dumbed down) but the books are usually $0.01 on amazon &
best of all they give about 25-40 good problems. The drawback is that the modern
physics sections might not be as good as more modern texts, (I honestly don't know though
& it would probably be wise to start a thread asking about this question if it interests you).
There is another option, this book is shorter than the rest & has less problems but is aimed at a
higher level & covers the same material. Also, the OCW scholar stuff has it's own problems
and solutions on the site so that's an additional resource.

Note that the first video link also has E&M video lectures if you search his site & I'll point
out that yale are releasing E&M videos really soon so these two mixed with M.I.T.'s E&M
videos is good.

As for modern physics, here:

http://modphys.ucsd.edu/2df03/video/archive.html

are some videos on elementary modern physics. Personally I just see going through the
elementary version first as a better idea.

edit: http://www.montereyinstitute.org/nroc/nrocdemos.html has great videos on physics I & II and
& structured plan of readings which would be very helpful.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #5
13
0
Yes, it would have been a sophomore class. Thanks, I'll take a look at all of those.
 

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