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Thread: Teaching yourself - any book recommendations?

  1. #1 Teaching yourself - any book recommendations? 
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    Morning all,

    First visit to this forum.

    Like many subjects in school (but not all!), I worked my way through school trying to achieve the 'grade' as opposed to taking a subject due to a deep interest in it.

    I regret that I never took physics in school (I never took physics for A level or a specific GCSE) and I wish to teach myself so I was wondering if anyone could recommend any good books aimed at 'beginners' like myself who would like to teach themselves the 'basics' of physics?

    Thanks for your help,

    Samuel


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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel1988 View Post
    Morning all,

    First visit to this forum.

    Like many subjects in school (but not all!), I worked my way through school trying to achieve the 'grade' as opposed to taking a subject due to a deep interest in it.

    I regret that I never took physics in school (I never took physics for A level or a specific GCSE) and I wish to teach myself so I was wondering if anyone could recommend any good books aimed at 'beginners' like myself who would like to teach themselves the 'basics' of physics?

    Thanks for your help,

    Samuel
    The Feynman "Lectures on Physics". By far.


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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzt View Post
    The Feynman "Lectures on Physics". By far.
    Yes, that is one is definitely a good starting point.
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    Would go with "The Physics Book" by Clifford A. Pickover, it provides you with innovations/occurrences in Physics that have occurred throughout history including prehistoric.

    The book also provides very clean pictures with each concept. Though it doesn't dive completely deep into every concept so if you find that you're interested in a particular concept, i'd look for a different book.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzt View Post
    The Feynman "Lectures on Physics". By far.
    Yes, that is one is definitely a good starting point.
    Not questioning the opinion stated in the first two posts above nor Feynman's reputation as a great physicist, and outstanding teacher, but I assumed that the "Lectures on Physics" demanded, at least, a decent grounding in the subject and was not really suitable for someone who "never took physics in school" and makes no claim to have studied the subject since.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    Not questioning the opinion stated in the first two posts above nor Feynman's reputation as a great physicist, and outstanding teacher, but I assumed that the "Lectures on Physics" demanded, at least, a decent grounding in the subject and was not really suitable for someone who "never took physics in school" and makes no claim to have studied the subject since.
    Well then, perhaps Young & Freedman's University Physics might be a good alternative. It starts off very basic, with Newtonian physics and high school algebra, and works its way up to quantum mechanics, relativity and particle physics. It's a good overview of physics, is easy to understand and follow ( loads of colourful illustrations ), and contains more exercises than one could ever hope to work through. I found it very helpful.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzt View Post
    The Feynman "Lectures on Physics". By far.
    Yes, that is one is definitely a good starting point.
    Not questioning the opinion stated in the first two posts above nor Feynman's reputation as a great physicist, and outstanding teacher, but I assumed that the "Lectures on Physics" demanded, at least, a decent grounding in the subject and was not really suitable for someone who "never took physics in school" and makes no claim to have studied the subject since.
    You might be right, my view is "colored" by the fact that this is my "go-to" set of books. I learned physics by reading the lectures, even if I did not understand (at the time) everything he was saying. Over time, I must have re-read the books 20-30 times.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzt View Post
    You might be right, my view is "colored" by the fact that this is my "go-to" set of books. I learned physics by reading the lectures, even if I did not understand (at the time) everything he was saying. Over time, I must have re-read the books 20-30 times.
    You say you "learned physics by reading the lectures". Were you not familiar with quite a lot of physics before reading the lectures?
    I suppose the answer to the OP, in this thread, depends on what is meant by the "basics" of physics and I am a little surprised that, in post 6 for example, Markus feels able to recommend a university level textbook for covering the basics of the subject.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    [I suppose the answer to the OP, in this thread, depends on what is meant by the "basics" of physics
    This is always a problem. There is another thread where the poster says they have a "basic" knowledge of physics which appears to mean they know pretty much nothing. Someone else might say they have a basic knowledge because they "only" have a BSc in physics.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by xyzt View Post
    You might be right, my view is "colored" by the fact that this is my "go-to" set of books. I learned physics by reading the lectures, even if I did not understand (at the time) everything he was saying. Over time, I must have re-read the books 20-30 times.
    You say you "learned physics by reading the lectures". Were you not familiar with quite a lot of physics before reading the lectures?
    Yes, I was but the high school teacher I had wasn't very good. Actually, she was bad. So, it was a mix of bad teaching and self teaching.

    I suppose the answer to the OP, in this thread, depends on what is meant by the "basics" of physics and I am a little surprised that, in post 6 for example, Markus feels able to recommend a university level textbook for covering the basics of the subject.
    It all depends on how determined you are to learn.
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    New stuff. Go to the Berkely channel on youtube. Their courses are usually relativly easy and should make you mediocre in physics or any number of other subjects. The good part is that its like watching TV. Open courseware video lectures on youtube.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    I am a little surprised that, in post 6 for example, Markus feels able to recommend a university level textbook for covering the basics of the subject.
    Don't be put off by the word "university" in the title - the book I recommended actually starts at the very basics, i.e. high school level physics and maths ( such as basic vector algebra, Newton's laws, how to convert units etc etc ), and then slowly works its way up, covering most areas of physics as an undergrad student at uni would encounter them, over more than 1500 pages. There are no prerequisites apart from standard algebra and basic single variable calculus, which is unlike most other university textbooks. It is also very clear and visual, in that it contains very many illustrations and diagrams to clarify the key points.

    Trust me, it is really quite excellent for newbies in physics, and I recommended it for a reason.

    http://www.amazon.com/University-Phy.../dp/0321696867

    I would love to link to a sample chapter, but all the ones I could find online are illegal downloads, so I'll rather not. I should stress that it is the 13th edition that you would be looking for, not the older editions, which aren't as good.
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