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Reading Original Works.

  1. Feb 6, 2008 #1
    I would like to read the original works of mathematicians and physicists. I am in the second year of maths & physics. I was wondering if this would be any good for me. Also, how would I go about finding their works? It's not as though the originals are published, it's mostly second hand stuff. Would the university library have the original works?
    If not, how could I get hold of them? And lastly, who would you suggest I read?
    Thank you for your time and input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2008 #2


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  4. Feb 6, 2008 #3
    Holy cow, thanks! But Cantor, I think, will be a bit over my head :rolleyes:
    I think Hilbert's reworking of Euclid's Elements (or wateva) is on the web too, somewhere, must find it and download it.
  5. Feb 6, 2008 #4
    Go to JSTOR, the archived database of all journals. Millions of papers were scanned for electronic download.
  6. Feb 6, 2008 #5


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    resist the impulse that they may be over your head, just read them. if one is impenetrable, try another one.

    you WILL get something from most of them, certainly not everything.

    A personal note: Once I spent a few hours in the library reading a very small portion of an original paper, feeling very discouraged, as it took hours to read only a couple of pages.

    the next day in class the prof asked questions about just that topic and i knew so much, he finally told me to shut up as i obviously knew the topic well!
  7. Feb 6, 2008 #6


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    Just curious, what paper was that and by whom?
  8. Feb 7, 2008 #7
    You might want to check out the books On the Shoulders of Giants and God Created the Integers, which are collections of some of the 'classic' works in physics and mathematics, chosen by Stephen Hawking.
  9. Feb 7, 2008 #8
    IMO when trying to learn a new subject, it's typically NOT a good idea to read the original works; instead you should go with a textbook, because there may have been progress since the original paper, and textbooks may be more clear since they use modern lexicon, and your textbook may approach the subject differently than in the original works, and if your class follows a textbook, you should go along with it.
  10. Feb 7, 2008 #9
    Thanks! I'm finding that very useful!

    Thanks mathwonk, you're so intelligent, and always willing to help nobodies like me :)

    Thanks. Some of the English is a bit challenging though.

    To supplement, or in addition to (i.e. other topics not covered), the work we are being taught then? ISn't it important to see the process of imagination and creation by some of the greatest thinkers ever- how they lead to their discoveries? I think so.
  11. Feb 7, 2008 #10
    The process of discovering something is rarely captured in the final product. Of course it can't hurt you to supplement your studies with them, but just don't get confused.
  12. Feb 8, 2008 #11


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    You can read the Introduction; it is written by someone else, and written well.
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