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Training a math major

  1. Aug 25, 2007 #1
    I am by training a math major. I have not taken any physics courses. If I want to self study mechanics, could I start of with Thorton/Marion?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2007 #2
    Marion and Thornton is perhaps the undergraduate physics book I've had to deal with. It really is just awful. As a math major I think you'll find it even worse than most physicists do. If your math is strong enough, check out Arnold: http://www.amazon.com/Mathematical-.../ref=cm_lmf_tit_4_rsrsrs0/105-2660057-8590853

    For an introductory book with much easier math requirements look at Kleppner's Introduction to Mechanics book.

    If you want to maintain your sanity skip Thornton.
  4. Aug 25, 2007 #3
    What Math level should I be at before I purchase this book? It is much cheaper than Kleppner's book
  5. Aug 25, 2007 #4
    Some differential topology/geometry in addition to the standard physics material (ODE, PDE) should do.
  6. Aug 25, 2007 #5
    Kleppner is a good book for a first-year university course in mechanics. I think it's one of the best books to prepare someone for subsequent mechanics courses and textbooks. An alternative which is currently available online is David Morin's textbook for Physics 16 at Harvard University, which will soon be published by Cambridge University Press.

    Thornton & Marion is a pretty standard choice for a second course in mechanics. Other books at a similar level are Analytical Mechanics by Fowles and Mechanics by Symon. I happen to like Thornton & Marion: I think it is well-suited for the typical physics undergraduate whose primary interest is learning how to apply the techniques of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian techniques to solve problems, but I can see why a more theoretical or mathematically-oriented reader might dislike it.

    The standard textbook for graduate-level mechanics is Classical Mechanics by Goldstein. Another book that is probably at a similar level is Mechanics by Landau and Lifsh*tz.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2007
  7. Aug 25, 2007 #6


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  8. Aug 25, 2007 #7
    If I go through Kleppner/Kolenkow, is there a need for me to go through standard books like Halliday and Resnick for mechanics?

    After this I am planning to study Berkely Vol. 2 E&M.

  9. Aug 25, 2007 #8


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    No, you don't need to.

    That's a common followup to a text like K&K.
  10. Aug 26, 2007 #9

    Dr Transport

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    Thornton messed up that text, get the 1st or second edition authored by Jerry B. Marion alone, they are much better.
  11. Aug 27, 2007 #10


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    I have taking newtionain mechanics, but no lagragnian or hamitolian. And I also have studied math and physics for 3years. This semster I will take mechanics pt2 that deals with:

    Central force motion
    Eulers equations
    Special relativity
    Coupled harmonic oscillators
    Lagrange and Hamiltons formulation of classical mechanics

    The course book is Thorton/Marion - dymanics..

    Should I also try to get over an older verison with only Marion as author, and sell the book by marion/thorton when class is over?
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