Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Mechanics and E&M Books for Self-Study?

  1. Mar 10, 2009 #1

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am making a webpage on self-study references for cosmology, relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles and quantum field theory, and string theory.

    I need suggestions for background references. Suppose someone who was/is an above average (but not top) student has taken first-year physics and calculus. With the above topics in mind, what books what be good background references in mechanics (Fowles and Cassidy?) and E&M (Purcell, Griffiths?).

    I want references that can be used as realistic stepping-stones for the above goals. Not too long, not too short; not too advanced, not too shallow.

    I realize that first-year calculus is not sufficient math background for mechanics and E&M references, but, right now, I'm interested only in suggestions for mechanics and e&m, so assume the math background has been ramped up a bit by self-study.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2009 #2
    I really like Griffiths E&M book. I thought it was fairly well written with a good number of examples and explanations. In addition, I felt the it was accessible at the undergrad level with the information you provided for background.
  4. Mar 10, 2009 #3
    I agree... some of the problems are probably out of reach in your context, but the book is very well written.
  5. Mar 10, 2009 #4
    Electromagnetic Fields and Waves by Vladimir Rojansky. I'm not in college yet, and the book goes through the maths quite thoroughly, so it is a wonderful resource for me. I also like the fact that most of the problems are proof-type questions (personal preference). Would appreciate if anybody had any mechanics books that are of a similar nature to Rojansky's text.
  6. Mar 10, 2009 #5

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Not sure if it's relevant, but Fermi's "Thermodynamics" is directly in the spirit of things.
  7. Mar 10, 2009 #6
    Its good if you have the solutions manual. There is just too much left out... ie, the way he for instance finds fields of an annulus without showing you the calculus. I suggest complementing early sections with Halliday.

    But yes, other than that and the fact that there are virtually no solutions in the book, I found Griffiths a positive experience.
  8. Mar 10, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    "An Introduction to Mechanics" by Kleppner and Kolenkow
    "The Feynman Lectures V.I" by Feynman
    "Mechanics" Landau and Lifgarbagez (for analytical mechanics)
    "Physics" by Halliday and Resnick (earlier editions are better)

    "The Feynman Lectures Vol. II" by Feynman
    "Physics" by Halliday and Resnick
    "Introduction to Electrodynamics" David Griffiths
    "Principles of Electrodynamics" by Melvin Schwartz

    All of the above books should be accessible any one who knows enough mathematics to understand Griffith's EM book, and are good for self-study in my opinion.
  9. Mar 10, 2009 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I think Taylor's "Classical Mechanics" is very similar to Griffith's E&M in style. The book also serves as a good introduction to certain mathematical methods. It does require a knowledge of ODE's though.
  10. Mar 11, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Kleppner and Kolenkow for Mechanics, and the first few chapters of Fetter and Walecka's "Theoretical Mechanics of Particles and Continua".

    For EM, I really liked David Dugdale's "Essentials of Electromagnetism". http://books.google.com/books?id=LIwBcIwrwv4C

    Also the famous page in Feynman where he states all the laws of classical physics.

    I self-studied Kleppner and Kolenkow, and Dugdale after having had Halliday and Resnick in high school.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  11. Mar 11, 2009 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The Landau and Lifgarbagez series would be an excellent choice.

    Perhaps one needs two or more sections, one for intermediate level books and one for advanced books, and perhaps a set of mathematics books in addition to physics books.
  12. Mar 11, 2009 #11
    Somehow I don't think Landau and Lifschitz would go over well with the average college freshmen...
  13. Mar 11, 2009 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    KK is indeed a great textbook, unfortunately for me I didn't go through all the exercises.
    It's nice and tough to solve these questions without resorting to Lagrange's or Hamilton's methods.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook