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Preparing for Classical Mechanics

  1. May 17, 2008 #1
    I'm an EE student and I am going to take modern physics next semester, and then would like to take classical mechanics. I was enrolled for about a half week in a classical mechanics class but it seemed really hardcore and I wasn't prepared for it. (The first homework problem was: Describe the motion of a perfectly flexible cable that falls off a table, what?)

    My question is how to best prepare for this class? My previous classes in mechanics haven't been very good.

    Should I read K&K's introduction to mechanics? Should I try to get through Classical Dynamics by Marion and Thornton by myself?

    My preparation in mathematics should be good enough, I have taken Linear Algebra, Diff eq, Calc 3. Although I am a bit rusty on trig substitutions and performing the integrals.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2008 #2
    Marion and Thornton is kind of crappy. I've never done K&K. If you can find Hand and Finch, that is my favorite.
  4. May 17, 2008 #3
    If you're confident in math, you should practice as many problems as possible. If you're having trouble understanding the mechanical systems being described in the question, or hard time imagining what will happen to the system intuitively, or don't know how to start the problem by setting up coordinate system and reference frame and such, then I suggest get a good intro physics book and start solving problem there as many as possible.

    In classical mechanics class, you will see many of the same problems that you encounter in intro courses but only with much rigor or different formulation of mechanics.

    I agree with above comment: In my opinion, M&T doesn't explain much of what they do and why they do it.

    If you're don't want to go back and solve intro physics problems but must start by reading upper level course text book I strongly suggest Taylor's classical mechanics. His book is twice thicker than M&T but he's friendly approach reminds me of Griffith's EM. This book is almost like a spoon fed. It will explain almost every step it takes.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  5. May 18, 2008 #4
    when i was taking classical mechanics, we were assigned M&T. Naturally, everyone hated that book and you would see practically everyone with some different book. I found an old copy of Arya's text in my school library and used that. Later in the course, once lagrangians are came into play, i used landau. Now whenever i need to look something up, i simply read taylor, so out of all these books, id say you can't lose with taylor.
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