What are the best five undergraduate college text books on physics?

Physics is an enormous discipline. You would, quite literally, require hundreds (if not thousands) of books to cover every aspect of physics.
There is no book “on physics".
There's books on plasma physics, a book on classical mechanics, a bit on introductory quantum mechanics — and so on and so forth.
It's like asking “what's the best car?”
There's no answer to that, because the word “car” covers everything from this:
To this:
Whilst one of them is “the best car for a 17 year old driver”, the other is “the best for attempting the land speed record”
There is no “best car” because you use different cars for different tasks.
No single car can do everything you ever need a car to do — no car can be small and efficient for city driving, and also an offroad vehicle, and also can blow your socks off on the autobahn.
You need different cars for different jobs.
In the same way, you need different books for different jobs.

Do you want a book that contains virtually everything there is to know about general relativity?
Then the insanely large “Gravitation” is your book:
                                                            
Oh, but that's not a beginner's book!
Did you actually want an introduction?
Then you probably want this book:
                                                                     
So even if we relax our requirements from,“the entirety of physics” just to the field of General Relativity, then “best” still depends on what you want!
Do you want a book stuffed with all of the information — which is great when you already have a grip on the basics?
Or do you want a nice, simple walkthrough of the basics?

Do you want a book that covers dozens of fields, but only to a (mostly) superficial level?
The Feynman lectures are a good start.
But if you think you can read those books and come away knowing “enough”, you will be sorely, sorely mistaken.

As I said, you need different books to do different things.
There is no “best book on physics”.
You need many, many books to get the rounded physics knowledge necessary for a university level physics course.
Over the course of a physics education you will require multiple books from every major discipline — with varying degrees of depth, depending on what you need from them.
In the same way that you’ll need a different car to accomplish different things at different times in your life, you’re going to need a different physics textbook at different points in your education.

No comments:

Theme images by lucato. Powered by Blogger.