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The Joy of Physics? (book)

  1. Sep 2, 2016 #1
    Does anyone know of a Physics book that might be considered the Physics equivalent of "The Joy of Chemistry", by Cobb and Fetterolf. In other words a book that is a challenging introduction, written with due scholarly erudition, in a style that's simply breathtakingly beautiful at times?
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  3. Sep 2, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    How about this book?


    along with its website videos:


    and videos (there's more just search around):


    I've never investigated it fully ,only in glancing, but many folks really like it if you believe the comments about it.

    I myself was raised on Halliday and Resnick and for me they were a revelation. Later I found Feynman's 3 volume book to be really fascinating but too dense for a naive beginner. I also did an independent study with Wheeler / Misner book on Gravitation and really loved looking at the pictures but not really catching how they fit with the math until much later. Anyway these books are somewhat dated except for Halliday and Resnick which continues to get updated as its a big money maker for RPI and the publisher.

    There's also Ben Crowell's online books at:


    that are quite interesting to read.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  4. Sep 3, 2016 #3
    Wow! Fantastic! Thanks ever so much. Loved Hewitt's attempt to explain why the sky was blue by describing the "sound of colour".His book did seem expensive though.Really loved the first chapter of Crowell but haven't checked the price yet.

    But, hey, that' just great info. Thanks again!
  5. Sep 3, 2016 #4


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    Hm, this question is very hard to answer, because it's pretty subjective. For me there are some books with "wow effects". The first ones I encountered were the six volumes "Lectures on Theoretical Physics" by Sommerfeld (in German), then the Feynman Lectures (3vols.) and Feynman's Lectures on Gravitation. Later: the quantum theory book by Dirac and all the texbooks by Feynman (the old and the new cosmology books, the 3vols. QFT, and the newest one about QM).
  6. Sep 3, 2016 #5
    Thanks. It doesn't surprise me that Feynman is so popular. Erudite, no bull, keeps it simple, but never too simple, and of course an infectious personality to boot. I'm sure there are many like me who don't understand half of what he says, but just love listening/reading him.
    It's a good point you make about the "subjectivity". I'm a teacher myself and the skill of explaining is one which is vastly underestimated. Sometimes, I find I need to consult with a number of people to help me explain. Other times, I have to read and reread the same thing over and over. Interesting that you mentioned a text in German, I speak French and Italian, and the funny thing is, I can "get it" more readily sometimes in the "foreign language". Thanks for pitching in. Much appreciated.
  7. Sep 4, 2016 #6


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    Well, Sommerfeld's lecture series is also available in English. The translation is excellent, and for me there's no difference between the German original and the Enlish translation in this case.
  8. Sep 4, 2016 #7
    Currently reading Crowell's "Conceptual Physics". Really like the style of writing. Find a lot of it is sinking in. Thank you so much!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
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