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Where do I go from here?

  1. Apr 14, 2012 #1
    I'm studying computer engineering which requires me to take the fundamentals concepts of physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, optics, and a bit of modern physics). I have truly found a passion for physics throughout my studies of these topics, although unfortunately I don't have to take any more physics after I finish with optics.

    I was thinking that I should continue studying physics independently (maybe as a hobby, just to keep feeding my curiosity). However, I don't know where to start. What should be the order of physics that I should take next? What good books would you guys recommend me to buy for them?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2012 #2
    A university physics textbook (eg. Serway or Young & Freedman) would be good since your course only covers the fundamental concepts. Then, you can move on to undergraduate texts in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics etc.

    You might want to take a look at the physics course structure through sites such as MIT's open course ware to get an idea of the undergraduate physics curriculum, and possibly base your self-study on similar structure.
  4. Apr 14, 2012 #3
    For self-study I really recommend books from Griffiths (Electrodynamics, Quantum mechanics). Even with bad teachers one can get himself a solid understanding of that matter, with Griffiths - those books are a great pleasure to read!

    If you followed linear algebra classes and calculus covering Gauss, stokes, green and stuff like that (vectorcalculus) (which I assume since you took an electromagnetism course already?) you are well prepared to start with Griffiths straight away.
  5. Apr 14, 2012 #4
    My two physics courses have been the same as 18.0, 18.02, and 18.03 in MIT OCW. According to their course structure, the following course would be Quantum Physics (18.04). Would that be a good place to start? Which Quantum Physics books would you guys highly recommend me?
  6. Apr 14, 2012 #5

    Yes, I am currently taking Multivariable Calculus. Since Quantum physics is the next step in the logical order, then would you recommend this Griffith book?

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  7. Apr 14, 2012 #6
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Apr 14, 2012 #7
    Thanks a lot. I will consider that one then. Just out of curiosity, what is the rest of the order of physics that one should take? What would go after Quantum mechanics?
  9. Apr 14, 2012 #8
    Well, there are many ways to get where you want to. There is not really a specific order except for (mainly) mathematical prerequisites. I would look into special relativity if you haven't done that yet and combine that with Maxwell's equations to derive the postulate special relativity is based on.

    How far did you go with electromagnetism? Are you familiar with the integral version of Maxwell's laws?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  10. Apr 14, 2012 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    I think you mean 8.04. 18.04 is a math course, Complex Variables. :wink:

    You can see a list of the books that are being used this semester in the on-campus version of 8.04 here:


    Hmm... it includes Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics. Sounds like fun!

    Griffiths is a popular text for upper-division undergraduate QM courses at "normal" US universities. However, most of those students probably take an "introductory modern physics" course first, using something like this:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  11. Apr 14, 2012 #10
    I don't think I saw them in the integral version, but I don't have any problems with mathematics. Math has always been one of my strong points, and I will take differential equations during this summer.

    I am using this book for my physics courses:


    Is it good, or does anyone recommend me another good book to review these concepts before I start studying Quantum mechanics?
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  12. Apr 14, 2012 #11
    Seems quite equivalent to the Giancoli/Wolfson books I'm kind of familiar with, so I would say that's a good book. If it covers some quantummechanics for first year university physics (the introduction of the book will probably state what this book is supposed to be used for) then you can work through that chapters.

    Then, when you start with Griffiths or something comparable, it might be wise to have a quick look at the classical wave equation and (complex) solutions of that, to get familiar with "waves" before applying them in a very abstract way. But you can also just start and find out whatever background you miss while studying... Griffiths tells you very precisely what you are supposed to know before continuing with the next chapter etc..
  13. Apr 14, 2012 #12
    Griffiths book sounds like a total winner! I'm a college student running on a college student budget so I'll consider buying the International Edition. Has anyone had any problems with those before?
  14. Apr 15, 2012 #13
    I got the international edition. What problems would you expect? If it is merely the differences in language/SI units -> It's perfectly fine to me, and I'm not from the US/UK :). (Can't you get a cheaper copy via your study association/university?). The paperback edition is 75$ btw. I'm not sure about the price of the international edition, but I paid the same here, including a huge discount! https://www.amazon.com/Introduction...tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1334479583&sr=8-1
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