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Need a GREAT introduction book to calculus based physics

  1. Jun 10, 2009 #1

    I am currently an undergrad about to embark on Physics I (Calculus Based). I took AP Physics in High School, but the teacher was awful and I never felt like I actually understood anything that I was "learning".

    The professor that I will have this upcoming fall is undoubtedly intelligent, however, it is commonly known to the students that she is completely unable to convey basic concepts, thus making the class difficult to understand.

    Thus, I wanted some opinions on what the BEST Physics Textbook/Help book is. I'm looking for something that explains the basic concepts clearly and in an organized fashion, yet still goes to a higher level of complexity (so that I can actually pass my exams).

    Here is the only description of the course and the topics to be covered that I could find:

    The basic principles of mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermal physics, wave motion, and sound. Primarily for students in the life sciences.
    Thanks for all the help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2009 #2
    Personally I never went to class in first year (or second... or most of third for that matter) and I just learned it all from the textbook and I did fine. I'm a fan of Serway's book but I've recently been TAing a course that uses Knight's and that's kinda grown on me as well. The reality of the matter is that so many people take first year physics that all of the main boks (Giancolli, Serway, Halliday and Resnick, Knight, etc) are going to be of a really high quality so you can really pick any of them and be fine.
  4. Jun 10, 2009 #3
    Someone might hurt me for saying this, but I think that Paul Tipler's book "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" is pretty good. The explanations and notation make sense, and there are a lot of good pictures (seriously, when you're seeing this stuff for the first time illustrations really help). I wouldn't recommend blindly throwing away $100+ for it, but you might try looking for it at the library.
  5. Jun 10, 2009 #4
    Do people generally hate Tipler? I dunno I think I flipped through it once and didn't see anything wrong/different about it (of course looking through those kind of books when you're in grad school it's kinda hard to determine how helpful it will be to someone new to the field)
  6. Jun 11, 2009 #5
    How much math do you know?

    Halliday Resnick Krane is the best I have encountered.
    University Physics isn't bad too.
  7. Jun 11, 2009 #6
    Alonso and Finn Enough said!! Seriously this book is great.
  8. Jun 11, 2009 #7
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jun 11, 2009 #8


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    I've taught from various textbooks (Halliday+Resnick, Serway, Cutnell, Wilson+Buffa)...
    and I've gotten a little bored of them.

    However, here are some "new" textbooks that are worth looking into.
    They have tried to incorporate aspects of Physics Education Research.

    http://www.physics.pomona.edu/sixideas/ Six Ideas That Shaped Physics (Moore)
    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~rwchabay/mi/ Matter & Interactions (Chabay & Sherwood)
    http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471370991.html [Broken] Understanding Physics (Cummings, Laws, Redish, Cooney)

    The first two are different from your standard textbooks...
    The last is a variation on Halliday and Resnick.

    These approaches rely on more than just the textbook.
    They each encourage active-participation (i.e. not merely solving typical "textbook problems") with the various concepts presented.

    (Alonso and Finn is nice... but maybe a little advanced.)
    ("Integrated Physics and Calculus" is interesting... but probably too mathematical for the typical life-science student in a physics course.)

    Another interesting book that might appeal to a life-science student is
    http://www.mhhe.com/grr/ (Giambattista, Richardson, & Richardson).
    If I had the opportunity to pick a text for a physics course for life-science students, I would pick this one to try out.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jun 11, 2009 #9

    Andy Resnick

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  11. Jun 11, 2009 #10
    how about the feynman lectures? It doesn't replace a textbook but explains the concepts well.
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