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Other Self studying Physics

  1. Nov 7, 2015 #1
    Hello guys. I am a resident practicing Neurology in Atlanta,GA.But Physics has always fascinated me. I want to self study Physics with no time constraints.I want a feasible plan.I will outline what I have in my mind; please guide me through it appropriately. Firstly, I did A levels Physics and Math too. So as far as my background goes in Math, I am familiar with calculus. But I want to fully study Physics.
    So if I am to understand correctly, following is the approach which I have planned to undertake:
    I start with Calculus Based Physics book-Halliday and Resnick. First question here: Are the Berkeley physics course books equivalent to Halliday and Resnick or above that level? If not equivalent, is Halliday and Resnick appropriate as a Calculus based Physics text before I start delving deeper.
    So, the idea is, once I am done with Halliday and Resnick(complemented by MIT fundamental Walter Lewin lectures or Yale fundamental physics lectures), I start with specific subjects and the relevant books in the following order.
    1.Classical Mechanics(Goldtsein or whatever you recommend)
    2.Electromagnetism(Purcell, Griffiths or whatever your recommendation)
    3.Quantum Mechanics(Shankar, JJ Sakurai, or whatever you recommend)
    4.Special Relativity & General Relativity(Weinberg or recommendations)
    5.Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics(your recommendations)
    6.Particle Physics(recommendations)
    7.Quantum Field Theory(Weinberg or recommendations)
    9.String Theory(recommendations)
    10. Condensed Matter physics(recommendations)
    Also please in the scheme of things, where do the Feynman lectures feature? If anyone could also guide regarding the additional Math which is necessary, that would be great.
    I intend to do this proper as I have plenty of time at hand. And it's self study; so there is no pressure but I want to be equipped fairly well in the subject after whatever amount of time is taken in it-it is pure passion. Please, responses would be really appreciated. Thanks. Ali!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2015 #2
  4. Nov 7, 2015 #3


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    Halliday and Resnick is intended for lower-division physics while many of the books you intend to go on to (e.g. Goldstein and Sakurai) are graduate-level textbooks. I'd suggest an intermediate step using upper-division textbooks.

    For particle physics, you might start with Griffith's Introduction to Particle Physics. For thermodynamics, I liked Callan. Browse through the textbook listings elsewhere on this forum.
  5. Nov 7, 2015 #4
    It is over 15 years since I studied physics so some of my book suggestions may be dated or out-of-print. There may be better, more modern treatments of the subjects.

    I'm not very familiar with Halliday and Resnick, but it looks like a decent introduction to physics, covering a good range of subjects.

    As for the rest of the list, I'd reorder it slightly. Special relativity and thermodynamics could be moved earlier before QM. Condensed matter physics should certainly be earlier (maybe after statistical mechanics). You also need to add some mathematical subjects (vector analysis, complex analysis, group theory, differential geometry).

    Goldstein is a graduate level book. It may be too advanced for a first course in classical mechanics. I'd split the subject into "Classical Mechanics" and "Advanced Classical Mechanics". Several of the other subjects could also be split into basic and advanced versions (e.g. QM and General relativity).

    So here is a suggested list (order may not be quite right):

    0. Introduction to physics (e.g. Halliday and Resnick, or similar book)
    1. Mathematical methods (Boas - read it cover to cover)
    2. Classical Mechanics (Any introductory book. Kleppner and Kolenkow is good and introduces special relativity too.)
    3. Vector Analysis (Boas covers it, but you might want to look at another book. I like Spiegel's book in the Schaum Outline series, which covers tensors too.)
    4. Electromagnetism (I used Duffin plus Lorrain, Corson and Lorrain, both of which may be out-of-print now)
    5. Optics (Hecht)
    6. Thermodynamics (Adkins "Equilibrium Thermodynamics")
    7. Quantum Mechanics (Rae, Merzbacher, Schiff)
    8. Statistical Mechanics/Kinetic theory (Riedi "Thermal Physics" is out-of-print)
    9. Condensed Matter physics
    10. Particle Physics (Perkins "Introduction to High Energy Physics", Reid "The Atomic Nucleus" out-of-print, but there are many cheap second hand copies.)
    11. Advanced Quantum Mechanics (Sakurai, Gasiorowicz)
    12. Complex Analysis (Churchill and Brown)
    13. Advanced Classical Mechanics (Goldstein. If you want to then supplement this with Landau and Lifshitz Vol.1)
    14. General Relativity (Lawden "An Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology" - GR using tensors)
    15. Group Theory (Elliot and Dawber "Symmetry in Physics Vol 1" is out-of-print)
    16. Differential Geometry (Schutz "Geometrical methods of mathematical physics", Nakahara "Geometry, Topology and Physics" which is fairly advanced)
    17. Advanced General Relativity (GR using differential forms. Possibly Wald's book.)
    18. Cosmology
    19. Quantum Field Theory (Ramond, Ryder, Bailin and Love, Itzykson and Zuber)
    20. String Theory
  6. Nov 7, 2015 #5
    I am involved in a similar project.

    This is my roadmap:

    0. Mathematics: Shankar and Boas
    1. Classical mechanics: Kleppner - Kolenkow and Morin.
    2. Electrodynamics: Griffiths.
    3. Thermal physics: Schroeder.
    4. Introduction to QM: Griffiths.
    5. Introduction to elementary particles: Griffiths.
    6. Quantum mechanics: Shankar and Zettili.
    8. Quantum field theory: Klauber and Lancaster-Blundell.
    9. General relativity: Zee and Carroll.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Nov 7, 2015 #6
    Thanks a lot. Yes, Feynman lectures have always been mentioned. Looking forward to it.
  8. Nov 7, 2015 #7
    Thank you. Got the intermediate step.
  9. Nov 7, 2015 #8
    Thank you for such a detailed response. I intend to follow this road-map. Thanks again for the suggestions. The Math part too; you clearly helped. :)
  10. Nov 7, 2015 #9
    Thanks a lot. This looks very relevant and hopefully will start on this. Thanks again! :)
  11. Nov 8, 2015 #10
    Having thought further, I'd drop Nakahara as it is probably too difficult (find a more introductory book). And I might replace Wald with Weinberg's book on GR or something more modern. QFT could be pushed a few places earlier in the list, if you want.
  12. Nov 8, 2015 #11
    Having thought further, I'd drop Nakahara as it is probably too difficult (find a more introductory book). And I might replace Wald with Weinberg's book on GR or something more modern. QFT could be pushed a few places earlier in the list, if you want.
  13. Nov 8, 2015 #12


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    Once you get beyond the intermediate level books, there are some absolute masterpieces - real joys of reading - that you might want to consider:

    - The ten volumes of Landau and Lifshitz's Course of Theoretical Physics
    - Pauli's six volume series of lectures on physics
    - Sommerfeld's six volumes on classical physics

    For more advanced mathematics, my latest favorite is Hassani's Mathematical Physics: An Introduction to its Foundations.

    That is my "desert island" shelf of books that I would never live without.
  14. Nov 8, 2015 #13


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    I couldn't agree more on this choice, but if there's some space left in your suitcase for the travel to the desert island, I'd not forget the three volumes on quantum field theory by Weinberg ;-)).
  15. Nov 8, 2015 #14


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    Regarding quantum field theory: I'm starting with Bailin and Love's book and seeing how I feel after that :-)
  16. Nov 9, 2015 #15


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    Yes, Bailin and Love is a great book too!
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