Suggestions for physics books

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

any suggestions for physics books ??

I am a high school student studying physics,I am very interested in physics. Since my teacher is teaching very very slowly, I have finished most of the books in the syllabus. I want to explore more on physics. Could you show me the way? Is there any suggestion of books about some major topics such as electromagnetism, atomic physics, astrophysics etc.
Any reply would be great!! :smile:
 
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  • #2
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Hi peterpang1994! :smile:

I'm no physicist, but I can recommend then Feynman lectures. Other then that, pick up a book by the name "physics for scientists and engineers" (by Serway for example). You can't go wrong with that!
 
  • #3
Thank you very much!! That would be very helpful!!
 
  • #4
WannabeNewton
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Depends on how much math you know really. If your high school is anything like mine then I can sympathize with you because the physics curriculum/ teaching at my school is atrocious and my teacher is way too conservative. Pretty much a lot of the material is cut out and the teacher goes very slowly so self - studying seems to be the only resort. If you already know calculus at the first year to second year level (basically the Ap Calc BC curriculum) then you can go straight to the various first year university texts that are used for Ap Physics C like "University Physics" - Young. If you haven't learned calculus yet and do not intend to on your own at this time then I strongly second Micromass's suggestion regarding the Feynman Lectures - beautiful works.
 
  • #5
bcrowell
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As WannabeNewton has pointed out, it would help a lot if you told us what math you know.

Serway is a "plug and chug" book, i.e., it tells you formulas to plug into, but not why the formulas are the way they are. Although Serway is an extreme example, almost any other "university physics" book you pull off the shelf (Halliday, etc.) will tend to have the same problem to some extent.

The Feynman lectures are great, but they require an extremely high level of mathematical sophistication. Legend has it that they were too hard for most CalTech undergrad physics majors. Probably not the best choice for a high school student. It doesn't have homework problems, which is a big problem for self-study.

If you want to learn some relativity, try Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler.

For E&M, the best book is Purcell, Electricity and Magnetism. It tries to teach you all the vector calc you need to know as you're learning the physics, but you will probably find it heavy going unless you have already learned some vector calc or are taking it concurrently at a community college or something.

If you really want to understand mechanics more deeply, Kleppner and Kolenkow, An Introduction to Mechanics. It has a thorough but old-fashioned treatment of relativity.

Some of my own free offerings may be of interest: http://www.lightandmatter.com
 
  • #6
WannabeNewton
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The Feynman lectures are great, but they require an extremely high level of mathematical sophistication.
Excuse me, my fault that I stated Feynman lectures in their entirety. What I meant to say was just the "Six Easy Pieces" part of the publications although I don't know if it would provide everything the OP wants.
 
  • #7
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I am a high school student studying physics,I am very interested in physics. Since my teacher is teaching very very slowly, I have finished most of the books in the syllabus. I want to explore more on physics. Could you show me the way? Is there any suggestion of books about some major topics such as electromagnetism, atomic physics, astrophysics etc.
Go here:
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-1999/video-lectures/

and watch some of the lectures -- this guy gives great demos that make physics fun (well, as fun as it can be).

If you find your high school textbooks too easy, you should look at the websites of physics (or any other subject that interests you) departments of colleges you are interested in attending, and see what texts they use for their freshman classes. And since you won't be turning in homework, do your wallet a favor and get used older editions of those texts --- usually the only difference between a brand new text and one ten years old is that the homework problems are rearranged, and the price is ten times less.
 
  • #8
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I would recommend something like Calculus Made Easy. Since the calculus and mechanics were born together, one can think of this as studying physics.

extremely high level of mathematical sophistication.
You're thinking like an instructor here. If you had to teach out of these books, you'd want students to have a very strong facility with all the math up to and including at least 2 semesters of college-level calculus, otherwise it would be nightmare for both students and teacher.

However, those reading on their own can get a lot out of the first volume with just basic trig and calculus. When you don't have to worry about passing the midterm, mathematical difficulties can be simply intriguing rather than nerve-racking.
 
  • #9
Depends on how much math you know really. If your high school is anything like mine then I can sympathize with you because the physics curriculum/ teaching at my school is atrocious and my teacher is way too conservative. Pretty much a lot of the material is cut out and the teacher goes very slowly so self - studying seems to be the only resort. If you already know calculus at the first year to second year level (basically the Ap Calc BC curriculum) then you can go straight to the various first year university texts that are used for Ap Physics C like "University Physics" - Young. If you haven't learned calculus yet and do not intend to on your own at this time then I strongly second Micromass's suggestion regarding the Feynman Lectures - beautiful works.
I learn calculus in school as well. But I don't think that my mathematical knowledge is enough. :confused: For vectors, I only know the basic vectors properties. For the vector calculus, I know the definitions of gradient and divergence. But the applications of them ....
 
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  • #10
WannabeNewton
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I learn calculus in school as well. But I don't think that my mathematical knowledge is enough. :confused: For vectors, I only know the basic vectors properties. For the vector calculus, I know the definitions of gradient and divergence. But the applications of them ....
If you are already learning calculus then there is nothing stopping you from using the books/sites that have been suggested like the ones listed by bcrowell since the applications of the math you can pickup by reading the texts and doing the problems. Good luck mate.
 
  • #11
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Serway is a "plug and chug" book, i.e., it tells you formulas to plug into, but not why the formulas are the way they are. Although Serway is an extreme example, almost any other "university physics" book you pull off the shelf (Halliday, etc.) will tend to have the same problem to some extent.
Do you mean to say that Halliday/Resnick/Walker is not the "ideal" physics text? Which one is the best in your opinion?
 
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