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Recommend me a Classical Mechanics Text

  1. Jan 22, 2013 #1
    Having gone through Hailliday-Resnich mechanics, I'm looking for something a step above this.

    I'm taking second year mechanics next year, but I'd like to get a head start on it (considering that I move faster on my own, anyway).

    I'm looking at either Kleppner, or Taylor right now, but I'm open to other suggestions.

    As far as mathematics goes, how much do these books assume you know already? I've got a solid grasp of single variable calculus, but not so much in multivariate or vector calculus.

    Do they walk you through any of the math needed (beyond single variable)?

    Edit: I'm not a huge fan of mechanics, if I'm honest, it kinda bores me... a lot. But I realize it's an important part of physics, so I'll hold my nose for the time being.
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  3. Jan 23, 2013 #2
    Kleppner devotes an entire to chapter to the required math. Taylor covers the math as you go along. It's useful to have seen the concepts before. If I remember correctly, Taylor does show *how* to do a gradient, but doesn't cover *what* it is. Kleppner is typically used in freshman honour's courses. That could be a good stepping stone (I haven't worked through much of Kleppner; just the first few chapters). I did spend a semester in Taylor, which I found was pretty useful. I've also seen mentions of Mechanics by Marion. I haven't really worked in this book, though.
  4. Jan 23, 2013 #3
    Morin and Taylor are good choices. I recommend Lanczos's variational principles of mechanics as a supplement, though it might satisfy all your needs.
  5. Jan 23, 2013 #4


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    Since we now have a Science Textbook Discussion subforum, I suggest looking in the Physics/Astronomy section. There should be plenty of recommended texts already, and more are being added.

  6. Jan 23, 2013 #5


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    I am a big fan of Taylor with one Caveat.

    Taylor gets right into the physics (teaching the math along the way, as Pasta points out) and does a good job covering Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics. Taylor also contains a great set a problems (in terms of quantity and quality) with every chapter.

    However, I do not like Taylor's section on Special Relativity He uses a weird convention for the metric (x4 is the time coordinate, not x0). This convention corresponds to no modern graduate physics textbook I have seen. Perhaps he has good pedagogical reasons for this archaic choice of convention, but I do not see it.

    That said, it a good book to own. Taylor is a good writer, and his book is one to have on the shelf. I just recommend finding a supplementary text (perhaps Marion and Thorton) for Special Relativity.
  7. Jan 23, 2013 #6
    So, looks like I'll be going with Taylor for this one, I may try to get a copy of Klepnner from a friend a bit later on.

    So, just to be 100% clear, any multivariate/vector calculus will be covered as it's needed?
  8. Jan 24, 2013 #7


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    Of course, as different mathematical concepts are covered as needed, don't expect the explanations of the mathematical concepts to be 'rigorous' in the mathematical sense. Taylor provides more of a 'working knowledge' of the required mathematics, good for a physicist 'on the job,' but a mathematician might be left feeling like some subtleties were glossed over.

    That said, I think his presentation of the calculus of variations was great.
  9. Jan 24, 2013 #8
    Feynman's lectures were sometimes of use as a supplement when I was suffering through Marion and Thornton (avoid that book at all costs).
  10. Jan 29, 2013 #9
    Got a copy of Taylor, turns out my grasp of fundamental physics is pretty weak.

    Having a lot of difficulty with his treatment of newtons second law with calculus.

    My first semester of physics was really bad, my instructor didn't even know what he was teaching. There was no rigor to be seen.

    My copy of Halliday-Resnick is also pretty weak on math. A lot of equations are just thrown out there, without any explanation as to how it was derived.

    Is there any book that would treat mechanics at a rigorous calculus level, but not assume you already have had an intro course?

    Another complaint U have is that there are no good questions, all of it is "calculate this", and never "derive this", there are no questions where it asks you to manipulate the symbols. I find that Taylor expects you to have a firm grasp of these concepts and skills already.
  11. Jan 29, 2013 #10


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    You could give Kleppner a shot. Pretty much all the problems are symbolic manipulation so you can develop your skills in that. While the math in this text is very easy, the problems themselves can be quite difficult just from a physics standpoint. Needless to say it helped me a lot.
  12. Jan 29, 2013 #11
    Does it start from the basics? I can work with the equations we were given, but when asking for manipulation or using calculus, I'm at a loss.
  13. Jan 29, 2013 #12


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    Not sure what you mean by basics exactly. There are a lot of manipulation type questions and geometry heavy questions and calculus / limits do show up quite a bit but it doesn't go beyond calc 1 except for one chapter that you can skip regardless.
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