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Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Fourth Edition

  1. Apr 26, 2003 #1
    Physics for Scientists and Engineers

    Author: Paul A. Tipler

    Publisher: Freeman Worth

    ISBN: 1-57259-673-2

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    Preamble:

    I feel the need to vent spleen, and I do not want to look like the kind of chap who is gifted with an ability to buy only the finest books in existence, nor do I want to appear like the sort to love and enthuse about everything he's ever read. As such, I warmly welcome you to the dark side of book reviews...

    Audience:

    First Year Physics Undergraduates, people with gigantic book shelves, exceptionally strong bags, and the patience of a saint.

    Introduction:

    An undergraduate Physics text book.

    Pros:

    It obviously has a lot of physics in it. The structuring of the chapters does make the text surprisingly flexible in catering for a variety of different course description. Clear and lucid account of physics, without ever seeming dry or obscure.

    Cons:

    It is super stupid size, ensuring that, when not placed upon Goliath's own personal bookshelf, it will bend...it will slip, and, thanks to its stupidly glossy cover, it will fall, dragging all your other books with it. You will leave it on the floor and will accidently spill things on it, but you wont care, because five minutes alone with this horrible thing and you will want to feed every single last copy of it to goats. But why is it so large? Perhaps it has something to do with the completely superfluous "hey kids, ain't physics grand" illustrations. When I want to see what a pizza looks like, I will go to a pizzaria, not to a Physics textbook. Likewise, when I want to see a racing car, I will go to such a race and will enjoy the nice day out. This might seem a bit extreme, but the damn thing is over 1300 pages long, and only two thirds of the pages actually seem to have writing or useful diagrams on them in most cases. It could easily be over 400 pages lighter!

    To be fair, it does have a lot of test questions in it, but it does not have an equal number of answers to those questions. Am I the only person to find this vaguely annoying? I wouldn't mind, but the space wasted by random photos of tennis balls and questions with no answers could be taken up by useful worked examples, which seem to be a bit thin on the ground here. Of course, then I'd have no reason to go out and buy the expensive additional answer books on offer...

    My next complaint is less specifically about this book. I *hate* all in one texts. I would prefer to buy separate books on electromagnetism, Quantum Physics etc., even with the duplication of material, that I could use for an entire course and still have a lovely, well behaved book case. Instead, I get lumbered with these bloated, expensive, floppy and generally rambling texts that require you to have lobster like pincers and a spatula at hand to even turn to the next chapter without discomfort (which you invariably have to do, since required knowledge for one chapter will of course be found twenty million pages and two entire counties away, which are virtually obsolete at the end of the year.

    To be fair to Mr Tipler, he seems to be a good writer, the descriptions and explanations are all clear, if somewhat brief in places, but I can't even think of this book without feeling despair flooding into my soul. Often there are only one or two worked examples for each topic, and these are invariably the simplest case scenarios, and there are no real insights into an 'integrated view' of different chapters beyond a couple of basic examples. The net result being that you tend not to think that much about the subject when reading through the book, as your concentration is occupied with performing fairly routine calculations.

    Also, a few pages in, there's a big old four page display dedicated to how ace Tipler is, "Tipler = Quality", "Tipler continues to be the best resource a student can have for learning physics". I have bought the damn book already! Even if I were just contemplating buying it, I wouldn't read the promotional bit as I wouldn't be able to get the book from the shelf in the shop, I would be too worried that the momentum change of the book-shelf system resulting from removing this whale would probably cause the shelf to rocket away at a speed close to that of light. Should I actually happen to extricate the book, perhaps by hooking it up to a system of industrial cranes, burning the bookshelf away and gently lowering it to the ground, I would be offended that such a laboured piece of self advertisement had been included in a book that's supposed to be dedicated to the education and enlightenment of its reader.

    Cover: (You knew this was coming) I like to think that the world of physics is an interesting place. I like to think of the power of its theories, the far reaching implications of its discoveries, both the exotic and day to day objects and situations it deals with. One thing I never really thought of is the way sand atop a vertically driven shaker table spontaneously forms a roughly sinusoidal outline. Indeed, I didn't even think of this when I saw the cover, as the sinusoidal outline is indeed incredibly rough. I thought it was just a bunch of sand on a black background.

    Conclusion: I'm sure that there is actually a very good text in here, I say this because I realise my complaints and frustrations are mainly about (although not exclusively) the physical aspects of the book itself, and write this now because I don't wish to do Mr Tipler a disservice by associating his name with complaints which are more likely better addressed to the publishing company or whatever poor, bewildered soul designed the layout and decided that one book which has 'cover on' dimensions which excede that of the human head would be better than a series of books. For the purpose of looking up basic facts and clarifying points in your lecture notes, Physics for Scientists and Engineers serves as well as any other text would, although I've found myself using the study guides to the book much more than the book itself. However, once you have all the 'ground work' done for your course, and are concerned with mastering the mathematical procedures in physics, you will undoubtably need to refer to a separate text such as 'Mathematical Techniques, an introduction for the engineering, physical, and mathematical sciences' by Jordan and Smith.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 26, 2003 #2
    Haha, that's hillarious. All the engineers at my school have to use that book and I feel so sorry for them, it looks like there asking for back problems whenever they put it into their backpack. Fortunately for a select few of us in the preprofessional physics program we get to use Resnick and Halliday's wonderful work of art, which is divided up into seperate books on mechanics, E&M, and quantum. So much nicer, oh and the cover art is so much cooler (IBM Quantum Corrals) Good luck lugging that monster around, oh and try not to hurt yourself!
     
  4. Apr 26, 2003 #3
    We're expected to use that text..:frown: They give us a preprint copy for free though, so it's not too bad. There are much better texts out there. I agree with the review.
     
  5. Apr 26, 2003 #4

    Tom Mattson

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    Irony (EYE-ren-ee) n: Spending 4 paragraphs complaining about how long a book is.

    (It was funny, though!)

    (edit: My mistake, that's 5 paragraphs. 5!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2003
  6. Apr 26, 2003 #5
    The only reason I own it is because it's the 'set text' for the Physics Component of my course. I have no idea, whatsoever, why the Physics department decided on this, but I suspect it may have something to do with pleasant bulk purchase deals from the good people at Freeman Worth. I agree entirely that Resnick and Halliday's work is far superior in nearly every single way. Personally, I would recommend that if Physics for Scientists and Engineers is the set text, students buy the study guides and Q & A books in the series and use them in conjunction with their lecture notes and the books on offer in their University library. There's little advantage, as far as I can see, in shelling out for this abomination.

    It's too heavy to take to University, you'll never, ever want to take it home on come vacation time, unless you happen to be the pilot of a Hercules transport aircraft in the Army, actually reading the damn thing is a logistical nightmare, and one of the first pages in the book features a picture of a young, smirking Tipler, almost mocking the reader with his proud, upright posture and functioning spine.

    I know I've already written the review, but my despair knows no bounds when it comes to this book. I believe he is now in Berkeley, and would ask any sympathetic Physics students in that region to imitate a painful, stooped over, hobble should they happen to pass him in the street, saying things like "I knew I shouldn't have tried to turn straight to the page on the Quantum Theory of Electrical Conduction straight away! They warned me! They warned me! Who will work to feed my poor children now that I have been so crippled by Mr Tipler's evil book?"
     
  7. Apr 26, 2003 #6
    Ah, but you don't have to carry my post around do you?:wink: Nor do you have to fork out God knows how much cash to fund the living of some roving publishing house photographer of bridges, basketball player.....rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant.

    I'll stop now.
     
  8. Apr 26, 2003 #7
    haha that's hillarious, these have got to be some of the best posts I've read in a while, just because they're so scarily true.
     
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