Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Preparing for physics olympiad

  1. Sep 24, 2010 #1
    I am a high school student and I am preparing for physics olympiad and I need some help regarding resources.
    Talking about what I have done , I have read Physics by Resnick and halliday 5th edi both volumes.I have also read Thomas's Calculus(most part).

    and I am currently doing 'An introduction to mechanics by Kleppner'

    Could someone help me by telling about books for Thermodynamics,Fluid Statics,Optics and electricity and magnetism.
    Moreover books which have good explanation and thought provoking questions are recommended.
    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2010 #2
    A friend who competed in the international physics olympiad said the level up to the national finals, albeit in the Netherlands, was comparable to University Physics by Young and Freedman
  4. Sep 28, 2010 #3
    Definitely study that Kleppner book. In my freshman year I was surprised to find just how many problems from the Olympiad where from there (at least in my country).

    For problems I suggest the Kvant magazines if you can get any copies in english, and Irodov (the general problems one) which should be on amazon.

    A good intro to EM would be the Berkeley Electricity and Magnetism. If you're serious about this there is of course Jackson (obviously just the electro/magnetostatics part).

    Also be sure to do all the IPhO problems. Also the A(sian)PhO which is usually more computationally intense.

    But I guess it depends for what level you're aiming?
  5. Oct 1, 2010 #4
    Although I am aiming of the International level participation, but for that that I have to clear national level first.
  6. Oct 1, 2010 #5
    I would not suggest Jackson for EM or some other books at that level. Though the olympiad involves lots of calculation, but it's just at the basic level of calculus. You won't encounter much differential equations, just some basic types. Something like grad, div, rot is way too far. However you should still have a look at grad, div, rot, etc, for better understanding and visualizing what is happening, but not for calculating.

    At the level of the olympiad, the first thing is to gain understanding. Believe me, without understanding, you will easily trap yourself in weird reasoning or solutions. The book on EM of Purcell in Berkeley series is a good one, but not a good start. Some introductory books such as University Physics by Freedman or Fundamental of Physics of Halliday are good enough at the beginning. Then comes something more advanced like EM book of Purcell, Feymann's lectures on physics, Vibrations and Waves of A.P.French.

    For topics which are usually not dug out like Thermodynamics, Geometric optics, Fluid mechanics, I couldn't find appropriate English books (I don't read much books by the way). But the scope of the olympiad of these topics doesn't go far from introductory level, so the best way is to do exercises. Some good problem books: Irodov's Problems in General Physics, Introduction to Classical Mechanics by David Morin, Problems and Solutions on Physics by Lim, A Guide to Physics Problems, etc.

    The internet and Wikipedia are also your good friends; don't ever forget that :smile:

    P.S.: By the way, I didn't even start with Fundamentals of Physics; at the beginning, I only used standard high school textbooks. Those textbooks can prompt you think more than you could imagine. Knowledge is crucial, but after all what's more important is understanding :smile:
  7. Oct 22, 2010 #6
    Hey there,

    I was lucky enough to participate in the 2009 Finals in Mexico, and my oppinion is:

    Your preparation time is best spend calculating a lot of hard problems, on the IPho website you can find all the problems and solutions from all the competitions - do as many of them as you have time for before your plane leaves for (is it Bangkok?) that you can.

    I've found that the concepts they use in their problems, are typically not that advanced (the questions they ask are very difficult nonetheless), so using a lot of time understanding grad books like Jackson is not a good idea. Instead read introductory texts
    like University Physics and understand them completely.

    You'll find then, that it is enough to get started on many problems, and typically, if you get stuck, then it wouldn't really have helped to have read more advanced texts, because the answer (when you read it) will be deductible from the topics in the simpler text, used in a clever way.
  8. Jan 24, 2011 #7
    you should try the "Principle Of Physic"
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook