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Author Topic: Where do I start?  (Read 1707 times)

Offline PupilofE+H27

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Where do I start?
« on: 01/06/2010 00:54:21 »
Hello All!

I'm new to physics and am taking on the daunting task of trying to teach myself. I'm started with classical mechanics, and after that I'm going to move on to relativity and quantum physics etc. As of now I'm using a prerecorded physics class from itunes. I'm trying to get a good base in theoretical physics and was wondering if anyone knew of great books or ideas for my quest?


 

Offline JP

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« Reply #1 on: 01/06/2010 05:31:04 »
There are a lot of books available.  What is your background with mathematics and physics?  How well do you want to learn the subject?  (Learning the basic concepts isn't too difficult.  Learning how the various models are developed and how to solve complex problems is much harder.)
 

Offline PupilofE+H27

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« Reply #2 on: 01/06/2010 12:15:37 »
Well i have a background in some normal calculus, and some Newtonian physics. I guess my goal in this endeavour is to gain a solid background in classical mechanics, relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory, etc, and then perhaps choose which one suites me the best and try and dive deeper into the subject matter.
 

Offline JP

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« Reply #3 on: 01/06/2010 13:37:28 »
Well i have a background in some normal calculus, and some Newtonian physics.

So you're probably familiar with basic integrals and derivatives?  You probably also want to learn vector calculus as well as differential equations (including Fourier analysis) if you don't know them.  That should help you with most classical mechanics and electromagnetism.  You might also want to pick up some linear algebra.

A book I've seen used is Calculus by James Stewart.  (I was a mathematics and physics double major in college, so my calculus books were much heavier than you'll need for physics, but I used Spivak).

Another good reference book on mathematics is Mathematical Methods for Physicists by Arfken and Weber.  I wouldn't try to learn from that book, but it's good to have on hand. 

Wolfram MathWorld is another useful resource to look things up.

When you have the mathematics in hand, you can try to tackle something like Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems by Stephen Thornton or Introduction to Electrodynamics by David Griffiths, both of which are very well-regarded advanced undergraduate textbooks.  Griffiths has some sections on special relativity.  General relativity is usually a graduate-level course, as it involved much more complicated mathematics. 

If those look too advanced for you, then something like Tipler's Physics for Scientists and Engineers or Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick and Walker are good introductory books.

With all these books, you don't need the latest edition if you're teaching yourself.  You can probably find them used for much cheaper.
 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #4 on: 01/06/2010 15:50:40 »
I would highly recommend Walter Lewin's MIT Physics freshman lecture courses 801/802/803.  These are from MIT Open course.  There are about 30 * 50 mins videos for each of the three courses.  Prof Lewin is a superb and engaging lecturer and demonstrator - and the sound and video quality is good.

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-1999/

If you want to find a copy of the textbook (from 1999 i think) you can even follow a large part of the written course as well.

BTW - if you use itunes University you can download these lectures.  Word to the wise - convert the type to TV and you can sort them properly.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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« Reply #5 on: 01/06/2010 23:16:56 »
I would always recommend "The Road to Reality" by Roger Penrose as the best and most readable introduction to the mathematics of physics.  I have mentioned it in more detail elsewhere in these pages.  This book gives a real insight into the development of the methods used for most of traditional and modern physics.
 

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Where do I start?
« Reply #5 on: 01/06/2010 23:16:56 »

 

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