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Tough physics books

  1. Jun 2, 2007 #1
    I am going for IPhO 2007, that should be taken in account, what are the tough physics books for mechanics and electromagnetism you recommend me to buy, now that I am going to university. :rolleyes: Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2007 #2
    Goldstein (mechanics) and Jackson (E&M) should treat you nicely ;)
  4. Jun 2, 2007 #3
    Thank you, Mororvia. And what about math books to have the mathematical background to be confortable with these books?
  5. Jun 6, 2007 #4
    Any more suggestions about physics books?
  6. Jun 6, 2007 #5


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    I see a disaster looming on the horizon here.

    You are about to enter the first year of a university, and you're asking for "tough" physics texts? Why aren't you asking for texts that are suitable at your level?

    The two texts that were recommended to you are typically used at the GRADUATE level, i.e. people doing M.Sc. and Ph.D. No one in his/her right mind would start a study of E&M using Jackson, where he covered all of undergraduate electrostatics in his INTRODUCTION!

  7. Jun 6, 2007 #6
    But I already mastered the concepts of a book, like Tipler's, Physics for Scientists and Engineers.
  8. Jun 6, 2007 #7
    Ok, how about E&M I and II? There are books between General physics and Graduate level that you must take before hand.
  9. Jun 6, 2007 #8
    Which books? :) For example? I am reading now Feynman Lectures.
  10. Jun 6, 2007 #9
  11. Jun 6, 2007 #10


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    Then you want advanced undergraduate text such as Griffith's. Don't fool yourself into thinking that there's nothing in between those intro text and graduate level text.

  12. Jun 6, 2007 #11
    Heh, to be fair (or unfair?) the OP asked for tough so thats what I provided ;)
  13. Jun 12, 2007 #12


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    For Advanced Undergrad E&M I reccommend Griffith's, also. I use it as a reference and will use it in my E&M courses this upcoming year. I really like it. He explains things well, and writes in a very conversational tone.
  14. Jun 12, 2007 #13


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    You've mastered the concepts? Does this mean you can do the problems? I ask, because you should be able to do the problems of a physics test before you are ready to move on. Concepts are great, but make sure you are able to apply them!
  15. Jun 12, 2007 #14
    Yes, I can. I did all of the challeging problems.
  16. Jun 12, 2007 #15


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    OK. Well, if that's the case, and you have some background in calculus, get "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by David Griffiths. The book starts with a review of vectirs and vector calculus, very helpful in my opinion.
  17. Jun 12, 2007 #16
    Mayday! Mayday!

    go quantum!, have you ever had any experience with college before? You may know some material well, but for God sake man, whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO PLACE OUT OF ANY CLASSES!. Whatever you do, don't even begin to adopt the naive notion that you can place out of college math and physics classes and graduate sooner. If you really do know your subjects well, then take the classes anyway and capture the good grades.

    Also, go quantum!, it sounds to me like you have a habit of studying on your own time and in your own terms. This is good, it shows that you will make a good physicist some day, but make sure you pull in the reigns when it comes to studying on your own terms. In college, you must fulfill your teachers' homework assignments. College is a lot like the military. In the military, you get orders, and the punishment for disobeying orders is... well, we won't go there. In college, you are given homework assignments, and if you don't get those turned in, well...you can kiss your grades and your future good-bye. Begging doesn't work in the real world. Doesn't matter how smart you are, when you're at college, the teachers make the rules, and you play their game according to their rules. Been there, done that.

    I could be wrong, go quantum!, but I sense a lot of motivation and a spirit of independence in you. Those are good qualities, but be very careful. College is not a means to an end, and you will be learning for the rest of your life. Don't try to take college at a fast pace; if your only goal is a quick graduation, you will fail at education. Physics, engineering, and mathematics undergraduate degrees are very condensed curriculums, so don't feel like you have to follow the college catalog's four-year outline as though it came down from heaven (in fact, I think those four-year course outlines come from hell if you ask me).
  18. Jun 13, 2007 #17
    While I guess the jist of what you're saying, Dr. Proof, may be true (i.e., that one shouldn't get ahead of oneself), I don't see anything wrong with placing out of college classes if the student knows the material well. It seems like it would just be a waste of time to take them. Why would someone "take the classes anyway and capture the good grades"? Why not take another class and actually learn something?
  19. Jun 13, 2007 #18
    go quantum! seems to be going to college for the first time; therefore, it would be to his benefit to take some classes that he is already familiar with. By doing this, he will get a feel for how fast-paced college undergrad math and physics courses are, and he will gain some insight into how different teachers have different teaching methods and grading systems (for example, some don't collect homework, so your entire grade is based on three test scores, and if you make some silly mistakes on those tests, you can kiss an A or a B, and possibly a C or D goodbye). Also, let's face it, there's both good and bad teachers out there. You can't ever be guaranteed of having a good teacher, so when you have a bad teacher, you need to learn to survive on your own by reading the book yourself (duh, everyone should be doing that anyway). Additionally, the college may decide to use a really bad (difficult to understand) text for the class, in which case you may have to go buy several other books just to understand the class (Ah, the things they don't tell you in freshman orientation!). Thankfully, for go quantum!, he seems to have a lot of drive to learn and progess in life, so that will serve him well in college.

    Now, another reason to not place out of college classes, even when you think you know the material well, is that you think you know the material well. So, you know the material well? O.K., but according to whose standards? Understanding the concepts and knowing how to solve the problems is not good enough in college. Remember what I said before: when you are at college, you play the teachers' games according to their rules. You can understand concepts, great. You can solve problems, great. But do you know what it's like to be under the clock, taking a test in a timed situation. In one of my college Physics classes, I mastered the concepts and the problems; I've always been a naturally-good problem solver because my mind actually thinks in terms of real-life problems (that's why I struggle with upper-level, more abstract math classes). When test times came around, there was no sweat. YEAH RIGHT! I solved those problems as fast as I could; I had the material mastered, so I screamed through all the tests. I still didn't finish early! I always finished with just a few seconds (literally) to spare. Almost everyone else who did very well on their homework did not finish the tests and got C's on the tests. I finished my tests (and got all A's), not just because I understood the material, but because I learned how my teacher played the game, and I learned to play the game by his rules. His game was this: "If you know the material like the back of your hand, and you work as fast as you can on my tests, you will complete my tests before time runs out." I learned his game rules the hard way at first, I got a 25/100 on my first test, then I got a 100/100 on the midterm exam and a 98/100 on the final exam (which was cumulative).

    All I am saying is this: take the first year of college easy, start off slow. Let yourself get used to college life, let yourself mature a little. (And don't take offense to that comment, because everyone matures during their first two years of college). go quantum!, just make sure that your goal is to learn and graduate, not just to get a degree.

    And no, I don't think it's a waste of time to take a math or physics class that you could just place out of. There is no math or physics course at the college level that I have taken from which I did not learn something and from which I did not benefit in my later classes.:wink:
  20. Jun 14, 2007 #19
    Griffiths is great! Especially when coupled with Feynman Lectures vol 2. Also, Murray Spiegel's - Schaums Outline - booklet on Vector Analysis is EXCELLENT and very inexpensive. "Div, Grad, Curl, and all That" is a very readable Vector Calc text (but, it's not technically a "textbook").

    Oh - one more thing. Have some fun this summer and get Prof Walter Lewin's MIT 8.02 course on Electricity and Magnetism! It's 36 video lectures - a must see! Check out: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-02Electricity-and-MagnetismSpring2002/CourseHome/index.htm
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2007
  21. Dec 5, 2007 #20
    jackiefrost thanks for the lecture link, this thing is really cool. I like the Physics I notes, i'm in last year of high school and i'm prolly going to have a look through all of that in the summer.
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