Suggested Textbooks for Physics 8A @ UC Berkeley

  • #1

I am doing poorly in Physics 8A @ UC Berkeley this semester and I would like to do better.

For background info, I've included the course description:
"Introduction to forces, kinetics, equilibria, fluids, waves, and heat. This course presents concepts and methodologies for understanding physical phenomena, and is particularly useful preparation for upper division study in biology and architecture."
The course requires only basic calculus (the school offers another course, Physics 7A, which I hear is HEAVILY calculus-based), and I think my calculus skills are fine.

We use the textbook: "Essential University Physics" (Volume 1) by RICHARD WOLFSON.

For homework assignments, we use the web-based "Mastering Physics" site (which I find to be really annoying and another topic/rant unto itself).

My problem: I don't like the book, and I think it's because it's too CONCISE.
[1] I don't feel like I have a good theoretical grasp of the concepts.
[2] The book only offers one or two lame examples per section, but the problems are always way harder. So I feel really out of place in discussion and study groups. I'll be flipping through the book and lecture notes trying to solve a problem, and when time's up and we go over solutions, many times they involve methods/ideas that I can't find in the book. Like, "How did you know to calculate the integral of force to find the acceleration?"

Can anyone suggest a better book that I could use for self-study?

What other resources can I employ?
- solutions manual [where can I usually get them?]
- any good web resources [courses at other schools with good notes/explanations/problems+solutions?] [websites / web-tutorials?]

I'm sure there are other problems with the book that I can't really place my finger on. Maybe some of you are familiar with the book and can point out other problems, which would help me a lot. If I know what the problem is, then I have a better idea of what to look for in other textbooks to help fill in the gaps.

More background info - here's a list of topics in our syllabus:
circular motion
momentum & impulse
center of mass
work + kinetic & potential energy
rotation: kinematics & dynamics (torque, angular momentum, etc)
heat & sound
Heat: energy flow, heat capacity; thermal expansion; latent heat
Intro to kinetic gas and ideal gas; heat as K.E.
Kinetic Gas Theory
Thermodynamics, Heat engines and refrigerators
Entropy & 2nd law; individual processes, diffusion & perfusion; Engines, fridges & efficiency
Fluids: hydrostatics (P vs depth), bouyancy; fluid dynamics

Sorry for the wordy post. Thank you very much for your help!
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  • #2
Since you have access to a university library, just go through lots of different books to see how they explain it. Other standard texts are Halliday and Resnick, or Young. But don't rely on hunting for better explanations alone, do lots and lots of problems. It's ok to guess and get it wrong many many times. Just make sure you figure out after that why your solution was wrong (or not even wrong).
  • #3
gobears2009 said:
My problem: I don't like the book, and I think it's because it's too CONCISE.

You might try Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics by Knight,,

about which some students make the opposite complaint, i.e., that it's too wordy.

As atty says, check your library.
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1. What textbooks are recommended for Physics 8A at UC Berkeley?

The recommended textbooks for Physics 8A at UC Berkeley are "University Physics" by Young and Freedman, "Introduction to Classical Mechanics" by David Morin, and "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by David Griffiths.

2. Are these textbooks required or optional for the course?

While these textbooks are highly recommended, they are not required for the course. However, they may be used as supplementary material for better understanding of the concepts covered in class.

3. Can I use older editions of the recommended textbooks?

Yes, older editions of the recommended textbooks can be used. However, it is important to make sure that the content and exercises in the older editions are still relevant and up-to-date.

4. Are there any online resources that can be used instead of purchasing the textbooks?

Yes, there are many online resources such as lecture notes, practice problems, and videos available for free that cover the topics taught in Physics 8A at UC Berkeley. These resources can be used as alternatives to purchasing the textbooks.

5. Are there any other textbooks that can be used for this course?

While the recommended textbooks are the most commonly used for Physics 8A at UC Berkeley, there are other textbooks that cover similar topics and can be used as well. Some examples include "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Serway and Jewett, and "Fundamentals of Physics" by Halliday and Resnick. It is always best to check with the instructor before using a different textbook.

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