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Resources to understand physics-related math?

  1. Dec 14, 2003 #1
    I'm currently 23 years old, and I've been working as a software engineer since school (few years ago) while maintaining my interest in all the sciences at a more superficial level (i.e. not delving entirely into the mathematics).

    I did have calculus in school, but I'm afraid my understanding has suffered over time, and my class wasn't exceptional even without the time dilation.

    I am going back to school for physics and astronomy simply because I feel it's where my interests truly lie, but can you pundits suggest books or other resources that will help me become acclimated? I'd like to be able to fully realize the math behind relativity, Lorentz transformations, Maxwell's equations, etc.; those are just the more well-known examples. I want to understand profoundly, not superficially.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2003 #2


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    Buy a textbook (or ten).

    I believe one of the best E&M textbooks is Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics.

    You might want to consider picking up a copy of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The first volume deals with atomic theory, some special relativity, and so on. The second volume is nearly all electromagnetism. The third volume is quantum mechanics.

    In addition, there are a lot of good short books on (special) relativity theory -- perhaps someone else has a good suggestion of one.

    - Warren
  4. Dec 15, 2003 #3
    Much appreciated.

    I actually own the lectures, but admittedly I haven't immersed myself in them. I've also read a few books on relativity, including Einstein's, and although I grok the material, I haven't the same level of appreciation for its profundity as Michio Kaku would say.

    I'll give Jackson's book a read and see if it helps me see the proverbial light.

    Thanks again.
  5. Dec 15, 2003 #4


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    Well, Feynman's lectures present a pretty decent treatment of special relativity. They're also very easy to read, and they do show the math.

    - Warren
  6. Dec 15, 2003 #5
    Be prepared to spend lots of time with the jackson book. If you don't have a good understanding of undergrad EM jackson will be difficult. The problems are usally extremly long, but doable.

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