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What good resources are there to learn about physics

  1. Apr 10, 2010 #1
    I'm specifically interested in quantum mechanics, but it seems like every resource online is either so basic and obvious that its dull, or so extremely incomprehensible to my untrained mind. I read a lot of articles and forums, which are usually much more explanatory, but still there are mathematical terms I am unfamiliar with. I have a fair understanding of calculus, and know I could at least figure some of it out with a little explanation. What would you recommend as a good transition between the basic and complex physics? Specifically... Books? magazines? articles? Websites? Thanks I would appreciate any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2010 #2
    You cannot learn physics online. That only works if you already know the topic and just want to learn about a special case or a particular equation.
    Magazines are usually too much popular science. I find it even harmful, because it often uses sloppy concepts and can cause much confusion. At least it's not good for the start.
    Books are the way to go. Probably people here can recommend some books. I'm not sure about the best introductory QM books. In any case, once you feel comfortable don't miss
    Also after you've learned some concepts have a look at
    which is quite revealing.
    It's tough but the only way to understand QM is to really know all the maths including derivations and proofs.
    Here is a list of authors I recall using books from. Not sure which ones were the best :)
    Bransden, Ballentine, Hannabus, Merzbacher, Gombas, Schwabl, Peebles
    See it as my vote, but wait what others say or look at them in the library :)
  4. Apr 10, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I suggest starting with an "introductory modern physics" textbook of the type that U.S. college/university students usually use in their second year, right after finishing the first-year introductory physics course (which usually focuses on classical mechanics and E&M). These books include an introduction to the QM "wave function", Schrödinger's equation and the associated mathematics, and usually assume that the student knows only basic calculus (derivatives and integrals). Two that I've used are Beiser and Taylor/Zafiratos/Dubson, but there are others. After that you can tackle a "real" QM textbook which goes deeper into the math.
  5. Apr 10, 2010 #4
    I agree with jtbell - If you're not very comfortable with high level math, start with a general modern physics textbook. They tend to illustrate basic concepts fairly well while keeping math at a minimum. Once you've tackled that, I would highly suggest either of the following:

    "Modern Quantum Mechanics" by Sakurai
    "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" by Shankar

    I particularly like the layout of the latter book. Shankar does a very good job of laying out the mathematical foundations required to really understand quantum mechanics. He then proceeds with a brief review of classical mechanics and finally demonstrates why the need for quantum mechanics arises. Both books describe various common quantum mechanics problems in varying detail, but Shankar's book tends to read more as a novel (as novel-like as a textbook can get, at least).

    I'm sure there are plenty of other good resources out there, but the only way to really learn QM is with a LOT of patience and a few good textbooks.
  6. Apr 10, 2010 #5
    Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Robert Dicke (the famous physicist) is one of the best books on QM I've ever read, and I've read quite a few QM books. Dicke genuinely understands QM.


    An Introduction to Theory and Applications of Quantum Mechanics by Amnon Yariv is an excellent book also, if relatively obscure. I value it highly because of the first 35 pages which totally equip you with all the knowledge you need to read any book on QM, and do it in a non-confusing, totally understandable way.


    I've read both of these books and trust me, you can't go wrong.

    I would not entirely agree with Gerenuk's comment, because there are online lectures that are very good. I've found Leonard Susskind's lectures to be very enlightening. What is the old saying? 'Learn knowledge from the Master, not the pupil?'
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