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Mechanics book(s) to prepare for university / Mechanics at university

  1. Jun 25, 2014 #1

    I am going to start physics at university in autumn and I want to prepare for the university start. Up to now I've been reading the Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol 1. and 07.01 on OCW by the MIT.

    In my opinion I am ambitious and therefore I want to use the best books and learning materials.

    Which mechanics book(s) can you recommend me for preparing until autumn? Up to now I only know the mechanics part of the Feynman Lectures regarding mechanics. I don't have any other prior knowledge except the european equivalent of "academic high school". By the way I am also willing to use advanced books if they are the best in my situation.

    P.S.: I am not an native English speaker. It would be very, very cool if you took the time and pointed out my mistakes.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2014 #2


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    I'm looking at the table of contents here. Which of the chapters 1-14 and 18-21 have you studied (or at least, know very well)?
  4. Jun 25, 2014 #3
    I have studied all of them. Chapters 18-21 were especially interesting - most of all the prove why you can treat torque as an "artificial vector"
  5. Jun 25, 2014 #4


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    Then I suppose it is time to learn some E&M. There are many undergrad books, the standard ones are Griffiths and Purcell. Feynman's volume 2 is available online, you could look at that.

    Perhaps you would like a readable book, not necessarily for doing problems? This one looks nice, it's more advanced so you won't be able to do the problems (without Boas for example) but I always think it helps to look ahead, if only to see things in a more holistic way.


    However, if you don't yet know much about vector calculus, perhaps stick to the easier books for now.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jun 26, 2014 #5
    I recommend to read:
    At my time, it was considered to be a number one book. It's still used in Russia in some Universities. (And it is a loved book in India and China)
    - Fundamental Laws of Mechanics by Igor Irodov

    Additionally, a recommendable book is this one, a lot of institutes use this book to compare their exams difficulty to (if it's as difficult as this book, then it's too hard):
    - Problems in General Physics by Igor Irodov

    The book is a collection of Problems from various subjects of Physics. It really tests if you understand a subject or not, and is excellent for preparation or exams. (Although this book is only good for your first year of University)
    But beware, the problems are Not "plug-n-chug" type problems.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  7. Jun 26, 2014 #6
    Thanks for your responses!

    1. @verty: "Then I suppose it is time to learn some E&M."
    Question1-Do you think that I've already learned enough mechanics?
    Question2-Aren't there more things to be learned than in the Feynman Lectures?

    For example I've been wondering about the following problem:
    You have two spheres with a diameter of 0.1 metres of equal mass (they are the only masses to be regarded in this problem). The distance between the centres of gravity shall be 1 m. They are starting at rest. How long will it take until they meet in the middle.
    How can I solve the problem analytically? I've found a formula on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_fall#Inverse-square_law_gravitational_field . I have no clue how to derive this formula from $$ ma = Gm_{1}m_{2}r^{-2}$$

    That is still classical mechanics, isn't it.
    Question3: Which books can you recommend me so that after studying them I will be able to solve such problems?
    Question4: Is it better to study classical mechanics in depth or should begin to study E&M?


    Question5: Do you think that Irodov is better than Kleppner/Kolenkow?
    Question6: What do you think about Kleppner/Kolenkow? I read a bit about that book in this forum..

    Question7: What is actually left in classical mechanics after Kleppner/Kolenkow respective Irodov? I mean titel is "An Introduction to classical mechanics.

    It would be nice to get some helpful answers.
  8. Jun 26, 2014 #7
    I sometimes work as a private tutor for UG-level Maths, Physics (first two years only), Programming (any request) and my book recommendations are based on the books that I teach from. I'm not sure that Kleppner/Kolenkow is a good book, I've not seen it in any University recommended reading list. It might be a good book regardless.
  9. Jun 26, 2014 #8


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    1) If you're still interested to know more, then I suppose not.

    2) K&K covers some of this in chapter 4. That chapter is pretty good actually. It covers the general problem in one dimension but in multiple dimensions it restricts itself to those cases where the path of the particle is known.

    3) K&K does cover the one-dimensional case. E&M books should cover some of it as well because force fields are prevalent there. But I suspect the unknown-path case is what the variational methods are used for.

    4) Irodov's book is available to you, it may satisfy you for now. K&K is a good choice if you don't want to learn E&M right away because it uses similar math to E&M.

    5) I didn't see double integrals used in Irodov. It looks to be at a lower level mathematically but not conceptually, the topics are very similar.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  10. Jun 26, 2014 #9


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    It explains things in the most direct and useful way, using the best math to do it. This makes in very nice but also difficult.
  11. Jun 26, 2014 #10


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    Hmm, with regard to that sphere problem, I want to give a hint about how to head in the right direction for solving it. My hint is: try to use kinetic energy somehow. But that's all I'm saying.
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