What's a good introduction to Physics book?

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NovaeSci
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I'm starting an Access course in Maths and Physics and I'm looking to get ahead with Physics. Maths-wise, I'm sorted.

The Physics course assumes no prior knowledge in Physics, just GCSE Maths. I already have the main textbooks, the main one used being University Physics with Modern Physics.

What I'm looking for is a basic book on Physics, just to brush up on some skills, prior to starting the course; something with short chapters, covering a variety of topics.

I have a book called Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide, which I'm working from; however, I'm looking for something which takes you more on a journey, rather than simply a recipe book. Kind of like how popular science books are written. Something I can read before bed that's full of interesting facts.

Thanks

EDIT: Apologies, it seems like I wasn't too clear. I'm not looking for a "textbook" or "recipe" book. I already have my standard textbooks for the course. I'm looking at more enjoyable reads introducing Physics. Like Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and Brian Cox's Why does E=mc. But rather than being advanced topics, I'm looking at something which introduces basic physics in an accessible manner that provides a bit of relief from the rigorous textbook. I know the basics of Physics, I just want to brush up on things I may have forgotten about and read about them in an enjoyable way. Kind of like by day you could be learning the compact maths of String Theory, but in the evenings, it's nice to sit down with a book like The Elegant Universe to see the beauty of the theory in a more accessible way.
Last edited by NovaeSci; 1 month ago
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l.r.
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I like ‘Advanced Physics’ by Steve Adams and Jonathan Allday, but it’s a long book and if you don’t love physics as much as I do I suppose it could be not the most fun read. Having said that, I love the book and it’s full of real life implications of things you learn, as well as illustrations and pictures to keep things interesting. I personally think it is a fascinating read.
It can be quite expensive though if you don’t know where to look- I bought mine on ebay and it was just under £10 with postage
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artful_lounger
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Schaum's Outlines books are useful references and revision tools, and pretty cheap. Might be a good place to start.

For physical intuition the Feynman Lectures on Physics remain popular, readable, and interesting. They don't really teach you to solve problems per se though, but help you think about physics more like a physicist I gather?
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by l.r.)
I like ‘Advanced Physics’ by Steve Adams and Jonathan Allday, but it’s a long book and if you don’t love physics as much as I do I suppose it could be not the most fun read. Having said that, I love the book and it’s full of real life implications of things you learn, as well as illustrations and pictures to keep things interesting. I personally think it is a fascinating read.
It can be quite expensive though if you don’t know where to look- I bought mine on ebay and it was just under £10 with postage
I've just checked it out. Whilst it's a bit longer and more complex than what I'm after (similar to my main textbook), it does look interesting. I've just had a quick look over the first few pages on Amazon.

I'm really just looking for something around 200-300 pages which is quick and straight to point in a casual reading manner. I have loads of textbooks and many popular science books on Astrophysics and advanced topics in Physics. I was just wondering if a basic Physics book exists in the manner of these popular science books. Like rather than teaching you Physics, it takes you on a journey with stories, etc.

Thanks though
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Kabzzzy
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Stephen Pople - Complete Physics (1999). It's kind of old but covers all the level 3 principles. Was actually highly recommended by my Access Physics tutor this year.
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Joinedup
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Story style. I've a couple of old suggestions.

Isaac Asimov wrote a guide to science that was largely physics and physical chem iirc. Mostly known as a Sci fi author he also wrote some non fiction. Lots of cheap second hand editions around.

James Burke Connections is more of a coffee table book of science stories but the TV series was even better and is apparently living on YouTube these days j
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Schaum's Outlines books are useful references and revision tools, and pretty cheap. Might be a good place to start.

For physical intuition the Feynman Lectures on Physics remain popular, readable, and interesting. They don't really teach you to solve problems per se though, but help you think about physics more like a physicist I gather?
I have Shaum's Outline books. It's not "textbooks" which I'm after. I'm not after a "recipe" book to learn physics, as I already have my standard textbooks for the course. I'm looking at more enjoyable reads introducing Physics. Like Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and Brian Cox's Why does E=mc. But rather than being advanced topics, I'm looking at something which introduces basic physics in an accessible manner that provides a bit of relief from the rigorous textbook. I know basic Physics, I just want to brush up on things I may have forgotten about and read about them in an enjoyable way. If you have any recommendations?
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by NovaeSci)
I have Shaum's Outline books. It's not "textbooks" which I'm after. I'm not after a "recipe" book to learn physics, as I already have my standard textbooks for the course. I'm looking at more enjoyable reads introducing Physics. Like Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and Brian Cox's Why does E=mc. But rather than being advanced topics, I'm looking at something which introduces basic physics in an accessible manner that provides a bit of relief from the rigorous textbook. I know basic Physics, I just want to brush up on things I may have forgotten about and read about them in an enjoyable way. If you have any recommendations?
The Feynman Lectures sounds like a great fit for what you're looking for then! They aren't a set of textbooks and discuss basic first year physics concepts in an engaging way to illustrate what the physics means more than how to compute various equations and so on. At least, that was my experience with what I read of the mechanics section and what I've heard of the QM one. The EM book from that series apparently is a bit more "by the numbers" but apparently Feynman commented that it was because it's quite hard to introduce the topic any other way. Note though that they do use mathematical formalism where appropriate (e.g. matrix approaches to explaining concepts from QM).
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
The Feynman Lectures sounds like a great fit for what you're looking for then! They aren't a set of textbooks and discuss basic first year physics concepts in an engaging way to illustrate what the physics means more than how to compute various equations and so on. At least, that was my experience with what I read of the mechanics section and what I've heard of the QM one. The EM book from that series apparently is a bit more "by the numbers" but apparently Feynman commented that it was because it's quite hard to introduce the topic any other way. Note though that they do use mathematical formalism where appropriate (e.g. matrix approaches to explaining concepts from QM).
Well, Feynman was a great teacher in terms of being able to describe complex topics and ideas in a simple and understandable way. I am going to start reading these as they're used on the degree as well. But for the time being, I'm just after a small book that's around 300 pages. One that is non-mathematical and can be enjoyed like fiction.

But thanks, you reminded me I still need to purchase the Feynman Lectures. I really want the red bound ones.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by NovaeSci)
Well, Feynman was a great teacher in terms of being able to describe complex topics and ideas in a simple and understandable way. I am going to start reading these as they're used on the degree as well. But for the time being, I'm just after a small book that's around 300 pages. One that is non-mathematical and can be enjoyed like fiction.

But thanks, you reminded me I still need to purchase the Feynman Lectures. I really want the red bound ones.
I think he did write some more general popular science books as well. I think the "Six Easy Pieces" book synthesizes a lot of the physical intuition from the Feynman Lectures into a "popular science" format using relatively little maths, so is much "lighter" reading by comparison I think? I've not actually read it though so caveat emptor
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by Joinedup)
Story style. I've a couple of old suggestions.

Isaac Asimov wrote a guide to science that was largely physics and physical chem iirc. Mostly known as a Sci fi author he also wrote some non fiction. Lots of cheap second hand editions around.

James Burke Connections is more of a coffee table book of science stories but the TV series was even better and is apparently living on YouTube these days j
I've just checked out Isaac Asimov's New Guide to Science and I've just bought it. It's definitely way longer than the book I was looking for, but it definitely looks worth the read. I like the way it reads: it's more like taking you on a journey from the beginning.

Thanks very much for the recommendation. I'll have to check out more than him.

EDIT: I've just realised he wrote I, Robot, too!
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I think he did write some more general popular science books as well. I think the "Six Easy Pieces" book synthesizes a lot of the physical intuition from the Feynman Lectures into a "popular science" format using relatively little maths, so is much "lighter" reading by comparison I think? I've not actually read it though so caveat emptor
I just noticed that on Amazon and literally have a tab open ready to look at it

From what I'm also led to believe is that many Physics students say they have read them (the actual lectures), but really haven't. It's supposed to hold some Holy Grail significance to Physicists and it's sacrilege if you haven't read them, haha.
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hugo.wu
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If you are interested in Quantum beyond A-Level Syllabus, have a look at 'Through Two Doors At Once'!
https://amzn.to/3i6sMyk
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NovaeSci
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(Original post by hugo.wu)
If you are interested in Quantum beyond A-Level Syllabus, have a look at 'Through Two Doors At Once'!
https://amzn.to/3i6sMyk
It took me about three attempts to say that author's name, haha! I'm actually past looking for an introduction to "basic" books physics books now, so this one is definitely up my alley. Cheers for the recommendation. I've only had experience with the more well-known authors, so it's nice to find ones like this which I haven't heard of before.
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Pangol
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My favourite popular physics book is Too Hot To Handle: The Race For Cold Fusion by Frank Close. There is a moderate amount of physics in terms of fission and fusion, but it's mostly a fascinating story of the time in 1989 when it was announced that two chemists had achieved nuclear fusion at room temperature in a conventional lab. If this had been true, it would have litterally changed the world. I remember being at a conference when the news broke, and there was much excitement balanced with scepticism. The book is a great account of what happened, how the claims fell apart, and in general how science shouldn't work (i.e. via press release rather than published papers) and how it is eventually self-correcting.

Failing that, I've not been disappointed in any of Close's books, most of which tend to be a good mixture of physics, history and biography.

Another favourite is The Hunting Of The Quark by Michael Riordan, a great walk through the history of the theory and experiments behind the discovery of the various flavours of quark. The author appears as one of the players in the story towards the end.
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Eimmanuel
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(Original post by NovaeSci)
I'm starting an Access course in Maths and Physics and I'm looking to get ahead with Physics. Maths-wise, I'm sorted.

The Physics course assumes no prior knowledge in Physics, just GCSE Maths. I already have the main textbooks, the main one used being University Physics with Modern Physics.

What I'm looking for is a basic book on Physics, just to brush up on some skills, prior to starting the course; something with short chapters, covering a variety of topics.

I have a book called Basic Physics: A Self-teaching Guide, which I'm working from; however, I'm looking for something which takes you more on a journey, rather than simply a recipe book. Kind of like how popular science books are written. Something I can read before bed that's full of interesting facts.

Thanks

EDIT: Apologies, it seems like I wasn't too clear. I'm not looking for a "textbook" or "recipe" book. I already have my standard textbooks for the course. I'm looking at more enjoyable reads introducing Physics. Like Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and Brian Cox's Why does E=mc. But rather than being advanced topics, I'm looking at something which introduces basic physics in an accessible manner that provides a bit of relief from the rigorous textbook. I know the basics of Physics, I just want to brush up on things I may have forgotten about and read about them in an enjoyable way. Kind of like by day you could be learning the compact maths of String Theory, but in the evenings, it's nice to sit down with a book like The Elegant Universe to see the beauty of the theory in a more accessible way.
If you are still looking for introductory physics books, I have a set of books to introduce.

A series of books known as Physics for everyone by Landau and Kitaigorodsky.
There are 4 books in the series.
Physics For Everyone: Vol. 1, Physical bodies
Physics For Everyone: Vol. 2, Molecules
Physics for Everyone: Vol. 3, Electrons
Physics for Everyone: Vol. 4, Photons and Nuclei

https://www.amazon.com/Physics-Every.../dp/B000MLE8Q4

Another book that you may want to consider is Physics Without Math: A Descriptive Introduction by Gilbert Shapiro. This book may suit your current requirement.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...j1MUDsW&rank=1

The last book that I want to introduce is from the late Steven Weinberg (who just passed away not long ago) - To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science By Steven Weinberg
https://www.amazon.com/Explain-World.../dp/B00KFG18Q4

Happy reading.
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