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Recommended reading for a 1st year physics student

  1. Dec 18, 2005 #1
    hey everyone,

    I'm going to be starting my first year as a physics major, I was wondering if there were any books that anyone would recommend, textbook or othereise that I check out. I was thinking about getting the Feynman Lecture on Physics. Any suggestions? Thanks :smile:

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2005 #2
    ops...sorry about the wrong forum. :redface:
  4. Dec 20, 2005 #3

    As someone who has read all 3 volumes of the Feynman lectures, I can certainly tell you that I would not rely on it to begin learning physics (or more precisely, modern physics). The reason is because the information is outdated, most notably in volume 3 (which is on QM). For example, the information about neutrinos having no mass is not consistent with current observations. Also, in the section on the nucleus, there is no mention of quarks (which is understandable since the lectures were given in the early 60s).

    Now, you may be asking why I bothered to read through all 3 volumes then? Well, because I enjoyed reading them. The 1st volume (good ol Newtonian stuff) has very intuitive examples.

    Also, you will not find an exercise section (problem/solution set) at the end of each chapter, so you may have a hard time objectively evaluating how well you caught on to the lectures.

  5. Dec 20, 2005 #4
    what if you your intention wasnt to learn physics from those books, but to have a better appreciation/understanding of some of the core concepts? Would it be a good book then?

    Its actually quite cheap for a used copy on amazon.com, I've been trying to get into Feynmans books for awhile...
  6. Dec 20, 2005 #5
    If you live close to a university, you may want to search their on-line catalogue of books and see if they have a copy of the books(which they should). This way you can judge for yourself if you like the style and content.

    Also, I found out that it was much easier to understand the explanations if I was also listening to the audio version of the lectures at the same time. It is a recording of Feynman himself. Perhaps your library carries that as well.

    Since you said that you are going to start your first year of major, perhaps you could also find out what book your professor is using to teach the class and just start reading it to get a head start.

  7. Dec 20, 2005 #6
    I already know which calc and physics textbook is used and I plan on buying it used from amazon.com (cheaper than the university used textbook store) and just working on that until I start school in the fall. I'm quiet nervous about starting school, so I'd like to get as much confidence as possible before I start...
  8. Dec 20, 2005 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    I would concentrate on the books you will be using and try to start working out some of the exercises. Who knows, you may be getting a head start on your future homework!

    And regarding the Feynman lectures: I think that the great majority of beginners would not benefit from them. Not without an outstanding lecturer to expound on them at least. Since you're attempting independent study, I would say go with the textbook you'll be using.
  9. Dec 20, 2005 #8
    Any other books? Any problem solving technique type books or anything like that. I bought a book called "How to Solve it". looks like it might be pretty good. I also saw a Feynman book on how to solve physics problems
  10. Dec 20, 2005 #9
  11. Dec 20, 2005 #10
    Feynman's lectures are something that you'll be able to come back to throughout your career as a physicist and always find something new. During my first two years as a physics student we had a group of students, lead by our professor, and we would all read a certain chapter from Feynman's lectures then get together at a coffee shop to discuss any questions we had or things that we found interesting. It usually took us three meetings (they were typically about two hours) to get through a single chapter, they are extremely dense and occasionaly quite difficult for an undergraduate to follow.

    In that light, I agree with Tom for the most part. As an undergraduate the Feynman lectures may very well be a bit much, especially if you don't have someone to guide you and answer questions. Having said that, they are an excellent read and should probably be on your bookshelf.
  12. Dec 20, 2005 #11
    right on, thanks a lot everyone
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