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Physics for Engineers and Scientists by Hans Ohania

  1. Oct 25, 2014 #1
    Hi has anyone come across the book?

    And what do you think about it?

    I'm looking for a new self-study book for undergradiate physics.

    I've through about getting University physics, but it sounds by the reviews on amazon that Hans'es book contains everythign you would need as a beginning physics student.

    I also considered
    Physics for Scientists & Engineers by Douglas C. Giancoli
    But i hear it assumes to much knowledge and often does a poor job of explaining when a law is applied and when it's not.

    Comments and recommendations are very welcome
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2014 #2
    I bought a used 2nd edition for 3 bucks (to enlarge my collection of Ohanian's books) and I have been favorably impressed with it. It's a nice all-in-one introductory textbook. Calculus-based, clear and concise in my opinion. I had a look at the latest edition and I was disappointed to see that it had gone down the colored-picture-book road (that is the adding of unnecessary and often distracting color, mainly to discourage photocopying), but it seems to have retained the text structure of older editions. (Also, the picture of Ohanian wife has been replaced with that of his granddaughter :-) ).
    This is one of the few 'all-in-ones' that I find worth reading.

    Sadly, it appears that good books tend to get worse in later editions. Take Alonso and Finn's "University Physics", for example: originally in three volumes, it was a pretty decent physics textbook. Their latest edition has been shrunk to a single volume (mercifully without the color-picture treatment) and contents have been watered down to a level that almost made the book useless (especially for what was the content of volume 3).

    Sometimes I think it is better to leave the all-in-ones alone and get a textbook for each topic. Like French or Kleppner-Kolenkow for Mechanics, French again or King for Waves, Kip or Purcell for Electromagnetism, Zemanski or Reif for Thermodynamics, and so on.
    But I am really not displeased at all to have bought Ohanian's Physics all-in-one (and not only for the price). I'd say "go for a used 2nd edition": it will cost you next to nothing and with what you save you can buy French's "Newtonian Mechanics" and "Vibrations and Waves". You won't regret it, I promise.
  4. Oct 27, 2014 #3
    Thank you for such great recommendations. I will definitely get ohanihans physics. With respect to the other texts I have a question

    Which of the two texts in Newtonian mechanics and in electromagnetism would you say have the most elaborate and intuitive explanations of the subject? I'm not speaking in terms of calculus but in terms of giving explanations of how the laws/observations work in real life, how they were discovered but also with some amount of mathematics (with good derivations) as in all physics books.
  5. Oct 27, 2014 #4
    French's "Newtonian Mechanics" and K&K "An Intro to Mechanics" are two very different textbooks.

    The former is an introduction to physics - and uses newtonian mechanics as a medium to illustrate how to approach and study the subject. It's a book on "why" and "when"; it might appear too wordy at first, but that's because French is guiding the students throughout all the doubts and questions that can surface in a first approach with the discipline. I always say that this is the best first physics book a student can dream of (but my opinion may be biased by the fact that I had already been exposed to physics when I first read it - I might have unconsciously filled in any lack in explanation).

    Kleppner and Kolenkow's , on the other hand, is more a book of "what" and "how". It definitely is a book about mechanics: forces, torques, linear and angular momenta, energy, conservation laws and so on. It explains (very well) what these concepts are and how to apply them to solve problems about the motion of particles, systems of particles and rigid bodies.

    Of course you will find the same quantities and concepts introduced in French's book; conversely, the "what" and "why" parts is also present in K&K, but IMO this two books complement each other: I'd go with French first to get acquainted with the discipline, and then move on to K&K to master its application. Buying used books can make this economically viable.

    As for EM, Kip has a more 'classical approach' that somehow is very similar to the EM part of Ohanian's book. Purcell, on the other hand, stresses a lot the intuitive part and stands in a class of its own for that and for the fact that it does not use a phenomenological approach to magnetism. It introduces the magnetic field directly as the result of relativistic transformation of the electric field (I am grossly summarizing). The third edition has the additional bonus of having an awful lot of completely worked out problems - about one third of the book. So, if you already have Ohanian, I'd go with Purcell.
  6. Oct 27, 2014 #5
    From what you write French's book sounds like a great choice! Then I'm try to get Kleppner and Kolenkow's book as well and read it afterwords.
    Should i read Ohanians book at the same time as i read French? I also considered the Classical mechanics by John Taylor (but i should probably limit my shoppinglist of books!)
    I'm actually going to take a bachelor in Chemistry but I just really like to understand physics, and will spend my summer and spare time reading the physics books.

    Then I'll stick to Ohanians book and then get Purcell :)

    If I'm a bit rusty in some of the calculus concepts, are there then any books you would recommend there?

    Thank you som much for your help!
  7. Oct 28, 2014 #6
    Yep, you could as well read French and Ohanian at the same time (you've got two eyes, don't you? o0)). Read the first chapters of French, and then read the corresponding chapters of Ohanian.
    But remember: books are like women, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, try to get a copy of the books you want to buy from a library, and then make your decision. (I am not sure how this advice translates into real life relationships with women, but it might imply something illegal in certain states...)

    As for calculus, I cannot help you here: there is no calculus book I would feel like suggesting (basically they all look alike to me and none has stricken me as special, as the other books I've mentioned above). Perhaps you should search for similar specific questions in this forum. Aside from basic derivation and integration skills, what you need the most are: how to find the minimum (or more generally an extremal) of a function, Taylor series (to approximate, simplify and or linearize), path and surface integrals (for work and flux), vector differential and integral calculus (grad div curl and related theorems are heavily used in EM) and if you really want to push it, some functional analysis to get the gist of lagrangian and hamiltonian mechanics.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  8. Oct 30, 2014 #7

    Thank you very much for your help, i really appreciate it!
    I'm awaiting French Newtonian mechanics and can't wait to get started on this exciting journey. i'll begin getting math skills in the areas you mention :)
  9. Nov 7, 2014 #8
    Hi again :)
    So I got fetches book and it seems interesting. I'm only at the end of chapter two, but I feel like many of the exercises are our of my reach at this point - I'm not very aquatinted with physics especially problems solving, would you recommend I just continue reading through chapters and then perhaps learn the problem solving from ohanians book?
  10. Nov 8, 2014 #9
    I take it the "fetches" stands for "French's".
    My answer is that it's up to you deciding what's best. I would read the first three chapters of Ohanian and try to do some exercises from there (they seems easier and more related to the explanations given in the chapter). If you still experience difficulties, I'd suggest you ask specific questions in the homework part of this forum. Specify the problem you are trying to solve, your attempt at solving it and what you think is that you are lacking.
    Hopefully, after a few 'assisted-solutions' you will be able to go on by yourself.
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