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Intro Physics Seeking a good Undergraduate physics textbook

  1. Aug 10, 2016 #1
    First off, sorry for posting yet another one of these threads. I've scavenged through this forum for undergrad textbook recommendations and have been somewhat overwhelmed. I'm beginning first year soon and would like a textbook that I can rely on as either my main textbook, or at least a reliable supplementary one to the book my university will provide.

    Based off of some of the suggestions here, currently I've been leaning towards Physics Parts I and II by Halliday and Resnick (3rd edition):

    Secondly, I've heard of 'An Introduction to Mechanics' by Kleppner and Kolencow:

    and lastly: University Physics by Younge and Freedman.

    From what i've read the consensus more or less seems to be geared towards Halliday and Resnick but have also heard the books are very dry, convoluted and not too clear. If you guys can comment on this criticism and further on the textbooks listed, or recommend other books then that would be great!

    Thanks, and apologies yet again for posting another one of these threads.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2016 #2

    Dr Transport

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    Halliday and Resnick has been around for about 50 years, it is the best text out there for freshman physics, dry or not, it does the job.
  4. Aug 21, 2016 #3
    I prefer Alonso and Finn: Fundamental Physics. It is a very great book that covers topics usually taught in upper division courses. Make sure you know your calculus, almost every idea is derived and it's historical importance is listed. Gave me a an admiration for physics. It lacks problems, so supplementing it with Halliday is a great choice.
  5. Aug 21, 2016 #4
    Great book but not readily available.

    This is a good suggestion. At the same level, I also (really) like VERMA - concepts of Physics volume 1 and volume 2 .

    I am confused about one thing though, we always read these books above in high school. For undergraduate, we had specific books on specific subjects - e.g. a mechanics book, an electricity and magnetism book, a quantum mechanics book etc. - we never read an all inclusive physics book for undergraduate studies.
  6. Aug 21, 2016 #5

    Dr Transport

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    In the US, the standard order is a 2-3 semester course out of something like Halliday & Resnik, then a semester as an intro to modern physics the you get into the single subjects, usually around second half of second year or third year.
  7. Aug 21, 2016 #6
    Thanks. Got it. So, what do they teach in high school (11th and 12th grades) then?

    p.s. I apologize to OP. I didn't mean to hijack the thread; I am just curious.
  8. Aug 21, 2016 #7

    Dr Transport

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    depends, some kids take advanced placement and get credit so they can skip one or maybe two of the semesters, others take a general physics course. way back when, when i was in high school, the advanced placement course wasn't offered, kids today are forced into all these college courses before they even have a high school education, ya need the basics before going into the advanced stuff. if you can't do physics with algebra, you are going to have a very hard time learning it with calculus. (I know people are gonna yell, but, it is the truth, jumping straight into advanced isn't a good thing.)
  9. Aug 22, 2016 #8


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    I strongly disagree with the last two sentences. Physics without calculus is impossible and thus ununderstandable, at least, I couldn't understand it, when I had to give one or two lectures for a colleague once. At the end they use calculus all over the place, but it's forbidden to call it calculus. E.g., they took differences ##\Delta x/\Delta t## (making ##\Delta t## very small) to get the velocity, but it was not allowed to call it a derivative, nor was it allowed to teach the students the basic laws how derivatives are taken. That simply doesn't make sense. Physics gets harder to study without calculus. A purely algebra based approach is fake. All the fundamental laws are differential equations, and that is for a physical reason named locality!
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