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!

Reading physics books

  1. Sep 21, 2015 #1
    How to read and understand successfully a physics book in any branch of physics ?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2015 #2

    Krylov

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    That is a very general question. I think there are a lot of complementary answers, but in general I would always recommend allocating plenty of time for doing many exercises. (Or, if these are not present, doing lots of "gap filling" in the main text.) The exercises are at least as important as the theoretical development.
     
  4. Sep 21, 2015 #3

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    I'll go a step further and say that this is a very VAGUE question. If you only have high-school level physics knowledge, you have no ability to read and understand Jackson's Classical Electromagnetism book, no matter how hard you try. This is because you are not equipped with the necessary tools and background information to understand the material. Think of a toddler who had only played with tinker toys, wanting to build a skyscraper.

    If you have the necessary background and skill, then I'll quote a part of Mary Boas's "To The Student" preface from her book "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Science", which definitely applies to the study of physics. So replace "mathematics" with "physics" in this text, and the advice is perfectly valid as well:

    In other words, you can't just "read" a physics text the way you read a novel. It is not a passive exercise. You have to work through a particular topic or chapter and you need to be able to solve a number of problems on that topic. This is the only way to be able to understand what you read in physics.
    Zz.
     
  5. Sep 22, 2015 #4
    Thank you very much krylov and Zapper Z for your answers. I just wanna tell you that I finished my first three years as undergraduate student, now I'm about to start my first msc year in condensed matter physics, but I'm not satisfied with my study method. So I understand from what you have said to me that I must do plenty of exercises than relying on reading. But excuse me I have another question which is : How to fill my gaps in my study field especially gaps that I didn't discover yet ?
    Thanks again
     
  6. Sep 22, 2015 #5

    Krylov

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I was wondering why you are not satisfied with your study method? Also, what gaps in your knowledge do you typically encounter? I can imagine that for a prospective theorist these gaps may be mathematical, but for an experimentalist they may relate to electronics.

    In general, I would say that as soon as you encounter a gap in your knowledge, and you think it is a gap worthwhile filling, take a book and do additional active reading. However, one can also go overboard with this: While still studying physics, I found many gaps in my knowledge of mathematics that required fixing, and I ended up getting a degree in mathematics instead.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Reading physics books
  1. Re-reading math books (Replies: 4)

  2. Reading science books (Replies: 5)

Loading...