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Recommended books?

  1. May 30, 2009 #1
    Well , couldn't find where to write this question, so I thought Learning materials is the right place.
    Anyway I'm studying physics @ high school, and the level is pretty low, so I know that in the future ,I'll have to catch up lots of stuff(in classical mechanics we don't study S.H.M nor momentum, nor ideal gasses, but I've learned by my own 2 of them) and this is just about mechanics , next year we will learn optics\elctro blah blah \a bit quantum mechanics wavs and more.
    Could You please recommend me books about mechanics and all the subject i mentioned above? I have lots of books, but I don't know if they're good , and I want to know which will You recommend.
    I have:
    University physics 12ed.
    Physics for Scientists and Engineers 6th ed Serway and Jewett
    Feynman Lectures on physics ( I found this one not so good though :S)
    A Guide to Physics Problems Part 1/2
    Goldstein classical mechanics edition 2 and 3(how's the first one? which things does it cover?)
    Thanks in advanced!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2009 #2
    Forgot to mention:
    I already know the basics of everything till momentum (including) and even more than basics... And we won't learn fluid mechanics\rigid bodies, but I do want to study them.
    So to cut a long story short , I need a good book for learning physics :}
  4. May 30, 2009 #3
    A good book about quantum meachanics is "Quantum Physics by Alastair I.M Rae"
    Also for Classical mechanics find the introductory course which is posted on this physics forum by Greg Bernhardt.
    Hope this Helps. :smile:
  5. May 30, 2009 #4


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    If I'm thinking of the same University Physics book, (Young & Friedmann?) it goes over the topics of momentum, fluid dynamics, and rigid bodies in a good first glance level of detail (The fact is these subjects are ridiculously complicated, and a more advanced treatment would require a good knowledge of differential equations, etc.). So for a study of the topics your course may not be covering, this book will probably be sufficient (Some of the problems actually aren't that bad either).

    As far as the Feynman lectures are concerned, from what I've read they're much more for someone who already has a good grasp of the fundamentals (even though they're supposedly given to undergraduate physics students). Perhaps in a year or two you can go back, read them, and appreciate more of it.

    On a more general note, what's your math background? Is your physics class using any calculus (do you know calculus?)?
  6. May 30, 2009 #5


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    I just want to say that Goldstein's book (2nd edition) is one of the few things in physics that I really hate. The notation is awkward, the explanations are bad, and the book even smells bad. There's nothing I like about it. The year after I took that class, they switched literature to "Mechanics: From Newton's laws to deterministic chaos", by Florian Scheck. I borrowed it from someone and read a little in it, and I really liked it. Maybe I liked it more than I should have, because I was comparing it to Goldstein.

    Anyway, that was the 2nd or 3rd class we took on mechanics, depending on how you count (one was a two-parter). I don't think either of those books is a good choice for a first book on mechanics. Goldstein isn't a good choice for anyone, but it's especially bad for beginners.

    I didn't like the book we used for our first mechanics class either. (It was the one by Kleppner & Kolenkow). So I can't really recommend anything. But I'm sure other people can. (Edit: They already have, in other threads. I found this in a recent thread).
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  7. May 30, 2009 #6
    Well Goldstein is not going to be of much use to you for several years anyway. It's the standard graduate text. And I also hated it.

    I suggest

    French, Newtonian Mechanics and Vibrations and Waves.
  8. May 31, 2009 #7
    First of all, thank You all for your comments.
    now about my math, i know standard level calculus,basically what we've learned this year,The things I don't know in calculus is just some functions and how they treated(arc sin etc') and I don't know anything about: e(exp or W\E),log,ln, Vectors in geometry,complex numbers(if that's how it's called, the "cis" and stuff) and I don't know how to solve differential equations :+)
    Ok I'll check the books You guys suggested,
    and what good book about math you suggest ?
    I have Math Methods Physics Engineering 3ED.
    thanks again :)
    btw I like lots of pictures in books ( stuck in my childhood :D)
  9. May 31, 2009 #8
    You said you're in high school? Most of the books mentioned would be too advanced, unless you're an exceptionally gifted student.
    Firstly maths. Do you know your high school algebra, trig and geometry well? If so, how much calculus do you know? A good background in single-variable calculus is a minimum requirement for all the books mentioned so far. You could get such a background from the standard books like Stewart, or shorter books like those by Lang "A First Course in Calculus" or Thompson "Calculus Made Easy" or Kleppner and Ramsey "Quick Calculus" etc. there are many other books.

    Then you can get a god 1st-year university book like Halliday & Resnik, or, my favourite, Alonso & Finn. That would ideally be your firt course of action. The other books are too advanced, or too specialised.
  10. May 31, 2009 #9
    Dweirdo i have a bit of advice for you, i did the exact same thing your doing where you buy book after book you understand most if not it some of it and then you look for another book and do this contstantly. I do not object to this but if i were you i'd first start at the simplistics. A good idea is to first look for simplified questions and anwsers to the subjects you wish to know, as long as you do this your never to young to learn the complicated stuff. To do this you could use stuff on the internet like Physics forum, wiki or even youtube. A great (but cheesy) Video that teaches you a bit about relativity and its basic laws can be found on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI_YPb9Brho&feature=related). You may understand it already but go over it anyway to certifie your understanding.

    Also be careful if you buy more complicated books you may feel you are not understanding all of what you are reading, this can cause you to lose faith in physics. I'd know cause this nearly happened to me. But as long as you intrested in what your learning you'll do fine.:smile:
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  11. May 31, 2009 #10
    Yes I am in high school, the things i know ( the high school math and physics) I know extremely well , and in physics I tried my knowledge with the physics Olympiad here in my country, and I passed the first stage , which was all about mechanics , and the second stage was 1 week ago, which had 2 parts , and both in mechanics , 1 part was multiply choice questions, and the other part was 2 open questions (the mark was 50-50) , so I did well on the open questions, but messed up in the mp questions, which shows that I have some problems with advanced concepts ...(not sure if I passed it or not yet)
    Is differential equations are part from calculus? cause I don't know how to solve them ,which stops me a bit from understanding Simple harmonic motion as I I'd like to..
    The question is, what level should I know math, cause I am good at we do in school, integrals, derivatives(I hope it means what i want it to mean :P) , and even what so called challenge questions in math (challenge for our level anyway ), I'm especially good @ Geometry and Trigonometry, which some times helps me in solution of problem of two dimensional collisions in C.O.M frame.
    so do You think I should go deeper into math before I go deeper into physics?

    The riddler:
    That's what I've done so far xD which I thought a good book could end my jumping from one to another...
    I was interested in Relativity (special, not general) , and I found it very interesting(I even watched the series of videos You've linked in your post, about 1 month ago! so simple when animated puppets are talking xD), but I couldn't agree with some stuff and apparently the answer was in general relativity to my doubts on the other one,and i kinda stopped there cause couldn't find a good book about it.

    I really like physics, thus this the path I want to take in my life, and I want to start now(It already started),and I think a flawless book could really help(if there are any).
    Cause the physics level here in our country high school , is soooooo low...
    and I'm going to study alone the thing we won't , without a cheater, which abit scares me, cause I think knowledge You get from a good teacher is incomparable with one You get from books, and thus I don't know in what order should I learn stuff..

    Thank You for your advices and comments!!
    I appreciate it!
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  12. May 31, 2009 #11
    I'd to enter that physics Olympiad in a year when im in year 11 (if i get the chance). But i have to say i may not exactly be an expert but depending on your area, general relativity may still be quite important. I understand that different physicists prefer different subjects but because i would like to study GUT (Grand unified theory) so i've learned a bit of everything. Though Relativity is my specified subject. But from what your saying i strongly suggest the book i have said above.
  13. May 31, 2009 #12
    Derivatives and integrals sounds like you know calculus as I was talking about. I'm not American, so I don't know anything about your curriculum or the Olympiads. Differential equations are not usually covered in a calculus book, and an elementary knowledge of them is needed for SHM.

    If you do know calculus (as it seems you do), then as a good maths book I strongly recommend "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences" by Mary L. Boas. It contains a lot of useful stuff, and if you go on to do physics at university, you'll find it very useful, so it's a good investment. It will cover the stuff on differential equations you will need for SHM.

    Since you know calculus, I suggest you start on physics, and when you get stuck on the maths, refer to the book by Boas.
    As for physics books:
    A good general physics book is Alonso & Finn.
    For mechanics, Kleppner & Kolenkow t a similar level to the above book, but more challenging.
    Electricity and magnetism I recommend Kip "Fundamentals of Electricity and Magnetism" and/or Purcell "Electricity and Magnetism".
    That seems like a good start. Maybe start with a general physics book, it looks like you have some already. But also search around this forum for more advice and recommendations.
    Have fun.
  14. May 31, 2009 #13
    Didn't understand You in "when im in year 11 (if i get the chance)"

    So you recommend these : ?
    "Quantum Physics by Alastair I.M Rae"
    Also for Classical mechanics find the introductory course which is posted on this physics forum by Greg Bernhardt.
  15. May 31, 2009 #14
    Thanks, and btw I'm not American as well.
    I'll check the books You've listed.
    Thank You,
  16. May 31, 2009 #15
    I was just saying if i got the chance i would like to do that physics olympiad thing which i could do in one year when i will be in year 11.
    Also i have a tip which you may already know about but anyway if you go onto google book it sometime gives you a small introduction to the book so you can know what level it is.
  17. May 31, 2009 #16
    Oh, I just didn't understand the year 11 part XD , I guess you meant class 11 ?
    about google books: that's exactly what I was going to do now :) thanks(=.
    I see You're playing a guitar ? which one ? :D( Am playing as well).
  18. May 31, 2009 #17
    I play an electric, im not sure what exactly its called, my fav stuff to play is Rock like Green day (GREEN DAY RULE), Metallica and Oasis.

    What type of guitar do you play??
  19. May 31, 2009 #18
    Electric guitar as well, It's Ibanez cort, I play mostly Rock (Red hot chili peppers) and I have my own melody(no lyrics :S ) , I love Metallica \green day\oasis\nickleback and so on, They're my favorites!! But haven't played for a long time cause of school stuff ( I have history exam tomorrow ffs :SSS )
    hope I won't get alerted for going off my own topic XD
    so we can continue talk in P.M if you want,
    something about topic so I won't get banned XD:
    Do You thing that books like "physics for engineers and scientists" are good enough?
  20. May 31, 2009 #19
    Funny i got a maths exam tomorrow, but im not to worried though.
    Anyways on your question, i do think that some books don't give good enough examples and explainations. Brief history of time was one of the first books i read and now i when i look back i think i could have been done better. The problem with advanced physics book's (not relativity or quantum mechanics) is that they always seem to expect you've learned everything else in that area and you know all the basics of what your doing.

    Well gotta go i need to study now, hope i'll speak to you tommorow, not here but using our acounts. seeyah D :biggrin:
  21. May 31, 2009 #20
    Arghh, I hate books that you need to read the same line over and over again till You get it...
    I mean, is it that hard to write a normal book, I'll try those You all suggested and see which of them is the best.
    anyways, Good luck on Your test tomorrow~~~!!!!!
    talk to you tomorrow,
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