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Yet Another Request for a Textbook Recommendation

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I stumbled onto this forum looking for advice, and since it seems like the wonderful people here have provided excellent advice to others, I'm hoping they (you) could do the same for me?

I'm in the gap between college freshman and sophomore. I spent my first year taking lit, art, and history courses, and now find myself having to take time off for familial and financial reasons. To keep our brains in an academic mindset, my mother and I thought we might buy an introductory level college physics textbook and, in our free time, work our way through it as if we were taking an actual course.

I have a good grounding in math: I got a 5 on both the AB and BC Calc in high school (don't ask me why I had to take both) and took a higher-math course where we spent a few months each on Multivariable Calc, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra, though most of that knowledge is a few years rusty, to say the least. I also took a high-school course in Electricity and Magnetism. My mother got her Business Degree from Tepper (Carnegie Mellon's B-School), so she has about twenty years of rust, but I'm sure she could un-rust very quickly, especially since she's always wanted to learn physics. (Especially since her older brother's an astrophysicist. Ah, sibling rivalry. I wish he lived closer, then we could get HIM to teach us.)

We've browsed Borders for books like The Cartoon Guide to Physics, but we're looking for something much more serious, with problem sets and an answer key or guide so we can essentially teach ourselves Intro to Physics 101 without a teacher.

Any recommendations anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #3
jtbell
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You've studied calculus, so you're ready for a calculus-based intro physics textbook. There are several similar ones. Differences are mainly a matter of taste. If you know which university you'll be going back to, I suggest you find out which book they use, and buy that one. Otherwise, this one is often used:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/047004473X/?tag=pfamazon01-20

(plus volume 2 of course)
 
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  • #4
If you're not familiar with it, MIT's OCW is a good resource.
It's a good resource, yes, thank you, but not a a course in itself. I'll keep it bookmarked though!

If you know which university you'll be going back to, I suggest you find out which book they use, and buy that one.
Unfortunately I'm not certain which one I'm going back to at the moment, but that's very good advice. Thanks!

Otherwise, this one is often used:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/047004473X/?tag=pfamazon01-20

(plus volume 2 of course)
Thank you for the recommendation. You wouldn't know if this book has an answer key, or if one can be purchased separately? Since we're doing this on our own we'll have no way to check our answers if the book has no key.

On that note, maybe I should look into a teacher edition?
 
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  • #5
jtbell
Mentor
15,544
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You wouldn't know if this book has an answer key,
According to the table of contents (which you can see by clicking on the picture of the book cover in the Amazon listing) there are answers to odd-numbered problems. Most any textbook at this level does likewise.
 
  • #6
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What do you mean by "not a course in itself"? It has the full syllabus, required textbook, lecture notes, problems+solutions, and exams+solutions. That's about as close to a full course as I've found.

Although maybe check out their other physics courses:
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/

Some might even have video lectures, too.
 
  • #7
181
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You REALLY need to take another look at the MIT site. They have exactly what you want.

This course
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01sc-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-2010/

was especially designed for self-study. There are several other flavors of freshman physics, too, including some with a complete set of lectures on video.

The only caveat is I think they all assume that you know elementary calculus, or at least that you are taking it concurrently. So if all your mom has is rusty business math, she needs to take the MIT self-study course on calculus. Probably wouldn't hurt you, either, and you could help her.

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-01sc-single-variable-calculus-fall-2010/

IIRC both courses don't require a text, but I'd get textbooks anyway. They're just too helpful to do without. You can look at the other MIT freshman courses to see what they use, or at the websites of other schools, but I can tell you now that there are standard texts that have proven the most popular over the last decade or so, and they are all good, so which one you get doesn't matter too much. If you can find them in a bookstore or library and read some excerpts, and form an impression of which one has a style that seems easiest for you to understand, that's the one to get.

For calculus: Stewart, Thomas, or Anton
For physics: Serway and Jewett, Young and Freedman, or Halliday and Resnick

All are ridiculously expensive if you buy them new. All can be found for ten bucks or so on Ebay, or the used book section of Amazon, if you get an older edition. And nothing very important has changed in freshman calculus or physics in the last 20 years, so an older edition is fine.
 

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