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Physics books

  1. May 27, 2010 #1
    I am a physics enthusiast and want to acquire as much knowledge in this area (I am in penultimate year of high school in Romania and want to continue with a college physics, but until then try to learn as much as possible).

    I want to know more about modern physics (relativity, quantum physics...)

    I started with the books: Relativity: "The Special and the General Theory" Albert Einstein, "A Brief History of Time" and "The Universe in a Nutshell" by Stephen Hawking

    With what books should I continue? What would be the "must have" books?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2010 #2
    I'd recommend 'The Cosmic Landscape' by L. Susskind, the 'Dirac memorial Lecture' by Feynman and Weinberg and anything by Sir Roger Penrose.

    Enjoy :D
  4. May 28, 2010 #3
    You sound like you're in a similar position to me, except I'm in the UK :)

    Based on what you've read, I would recommend:

    The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose

    What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell by Erwin Schrödinger (if you want a bit of biophysics)


    Lectures on Quantum Mechanics by Paul A. M. Dirac

  5. May 28, 2010 #4


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    I can't speak for the biophysics books, but the other two are quite advanced texts. While the road to reality is, I guess, written for the layman, it seems to be written for the layman with endless amounts of study time on his hands, as it seems very difficult. As for the Dirac, it looks like he starts with classical mechanics to move to QM, so if you don't know CM already reading this book seems silly.

    At any rate, stuff by Hawking, Greene, etc. is all well and good, but if you want to get into the actual physics I know of no way other than math/physics textbooks. Since it seems you will continue with your physics education next year, I recommend you just whet your appetite with general books like the ones you have been reading. University physics can seem pretty dry, especially in the first few classes, so it's good to read about all the "cool stuff" so you don't get too caught up in the blocks on inclined planes.
  6. May 28, 2010 #5
    A great and entertaining book is Leonard Susskind's "The Black Hole War: my Battle with Steven Hawking to make the world safe for Quantum Mechanics."
  7. May 28, 2010 #6
    If you want to get in the weeds with the calculations, the Feynman Lectures belong on any aspiring physicist's shelf. It may not make to much sense your freshman year, but the pages will be pretty worn by your senior year. I also enjoy the "Demystified" series. They have a lot of example calculations, so you can build your own abilities, especially if you are working outside of the classroom. As a paperback, they also aren't too expensive.
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