1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Undergrad Books

  1. Jul 28, 2008 #1
    I'm a high school student, and I want to learn as much as I can about physics before getting to college. It would be great if I could cover everything that the average physics undergrad student learns before going to a university. So far, I've read:

    Fundamentals of Physics - Halliday/Resnick/Walker
    Physics for Scientists of Engineers - Tipler/Mosca
    Calculus - Anton
    Linear Algebra - Bronson

    And I'm reading:
    Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths
    Elementary Differential Equations - Boyce/DiPrima

    I have the following, but I haven't started them:
    Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems - Marion/Thornton
    Introduction to Electrodynamics - Griffiths
    Introduction to Elementary Particles - Griffiths
    Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell - Zee
    A First Course in String Theory - Zettigli

    Do you guys have any suggestions on textbooks to use for the following:
    Classical Mechanics
    Classical Electrodynamics
    Statistical Physics
    Quantum Field Theory
    Elementary Particles
    String Theory

    Also, what math should I know before tackling each of these?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    For thermodynamics and statistical mechanics I used "An introduction to Thermal Physics" by Schroeder and thought it was quite good, although a little too un-rigorous for my liking. I don't know any other books on the subject. For Mechanics and Electrodynamics, Marion/Thorton and Griffiths should suffice, they are both excellent books in my opinion. Why not a book on special relativity? Good introductions are "Special Relativity" by French and "A traveler's guide to spacetime" by Moore. Alternatively, to cover Mechanics, E&M and Quantum you could read the Feynman lectures... can't go wrong with Feynman!
    To gain a suitable math background, I would recommend "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences" by Boas. This covers all the math that a physics undergraduate would typically encounter in a decent amount of detail (although extra reading in the subjects covered would be recommended)

  4. Aug 1, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  5. Aug 2, 2008 #4
    Is it just me, but I would do classical mechanics and electromagnetism (as well as differential equations) before QM?
  6. Aug 2, 2008 #5
    halliday/resnick/walker is pretty bad. halliday/resnick/krane on the other hand is pretty good. calc books are pretty much all the same, so are linear algebra and diff eq books. marion thornton is shiet book though. get klepner and kolenkow for mechanics. other than that you should tack on a pde book and applied complex analysis. past that i don't know.
  7. Aug 2, 2008 #6
    Wow you in high school and you learned all that? Which grade?
  8. Aug 2, 2008 #7
    Griffiths is great for learning how to calculate stuff in QM; surprisingly, it can be tackled before a course on classical dynamics or E&M. That said, unfortunately you won't take any physical understanding away from it. Only calculation techniques.

    If you really want to learn QM, you're going to need a few different books. Griffiths won't prepare you for Zee, and reading Zee will be a waste of time without a solid QM foundation, and also requires knowing Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics, special relativity, and a great deal of E&M cold.

    (Not to mention ODEs, PDEs, special functions, Green's functions, Fourier transforms... Boas' book should be at the top of your list.)
  9. Aug 2, 2008 #8
    Ideally yes, they are are "classical subjects" which QM was formulated with.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook