Favorite Physics Texts

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

jeffreyweee
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:39 pm

Favorite Physics Texts

Postby jeffreyweee » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:20 am

There's a lot of discussion on which books are best for the physics gre, but how about for those of us who can focus more on learning physics rather than passing a multiple choice physics texts. I'm trying to accumulate a pretty good sized physics library to take with my to graduate school. Any input on your favorites for the big 4 classes, especially classical mechanics which i've yet to find a book I want to buy, would be awesome.

So far I've got:

For Quantum:
Quantum Theory - David Bohm
Principles of Quantum Mechanics - Shankar
Problems in Quantum Mechanics: With Solutions - G. L. Squires
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths

For Electricity and Magnetism:
Introduction to Electrodynamics - Griffiths
Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations - Daniel Fleisch

Classical Mechanics:
Analytical Mechanics - Fowles and Cassidy

Thermodynamics:
Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics - Carter
Understanding Thermodynamics - H.C. Van Ness
Thermodynamics - Fermi

Obviously these are all at the undergraduate level and I'm not very familiar with the best graduate level texts.

Bozostein
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:06 am

Re: Favorite Physics Texts

Postby Bozostein » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:17 am

from what i recall shankar is in fact a graduate level qm book. at least at my old school it was

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Andromeda
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Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:17 pm

Re: Favorite Physics Texts

Postby Andromeda » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:48 am

Shankar is grad level. He actually gave a colloquium at my previous university, and was most excellent.

We also got Griffiths to come in to speak and that was amazing. Dude is just about as awesome as you'd hope. :D

I also highly recommend everyone get ahold of the Feynman Lectures on Physics- not cheap, but I asked for them for Christmas one year. I feel really badly for those who had to learn freshman physics from them, but they're a really amazing way to rethink concepts you're quite familiar with.

For cosmology you can't beat Barbara Ryden's Intro to Cosmology. I mean wow, she explains the CMB while discussing potato salad! How could you not like that? :lol:

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Dorian_Mode
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Re: Favorite Physics Texts

Postby Dorian_Mode » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:45 am

For E&M, you might as well go ahead and buy Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, because you're probably going to need it.

I've found the Reif and Kittel books to be a good combination for learning thermo/stat mech. Kittel summarizes things very nicely and makes an easy reference, while Reif goes into more depth on the concepts.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Favorite Physics Texts

Postby TakeruK » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:56 am

I'd second Jackson E&M for a graduate level E&M text. If you will be taking an E&M course at grad school, there is a good chance you'll use it.

For mechanics, my undergrad class used Landau & Lifshitz, but that went waaaaay over my head and I didn't understand any of it. It's a bit better now and I'm amazed at how concise/terse some of the complicated concepts are explained!

For General Relativity, I think Hartle's "Gravity: An Introduction to Eintstein's General Relativity" is really good, especially the section on tensor mathematics (which could be useful for other topics too).

Depending on what you are doing, a copy of Numerical Recipes could be useful.

And finally, one of the books that I referred to the most in my current (MSc) classes is my undergrad Calculus text (Steward 5th edition, "Early Transcendentals", covering Calculus I through IV). I'm really bad at math though (for a astronomer/physicist) so I really needed to look up how to do contour and surface integrals, average of a function, approximations (such as Simpson's Rule for approximating integrals, or numerical methods for differential equations) etc. a lot. And their appendix containing a bunch of antiderivatives is super useful!

The rest of my shelf is mostly the classic texts in astronomy though!

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Favorite Physics Texts

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:03 am

jeffreyweee wrote:There's a lot of discussion on which books are best for the physics gre, but how about for those of us who can focus more on learning physics rather than passing a multiple choice physics texts. I'm trying to accumulate a pretty good sized physics library to take with my to graduate school. Any input on your favorites for the big 4 classes, especially classical mechanics which i've yet to find a book I want to buy, would be awesome.

So far I've got:

For Quantum:
Quantum Theory - David Bohm
Principles of Quantum Mechanics - Shankar
Problems in Quantum Mechanics: With Solutions - G. L. Squires
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths

For Electricity and Magnetism:
Introduction to Electrodynamics - Griffiths
Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations - Daniel Fleisch

Classical Mechanics:
Analytical Mechanics - Fowles and Cassidy

Thermodynamics:
Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics - Carter
Understanding Thermodynamics - H.C. Van Ness
Thermodynamics - Fermi

Obviously these are all at the undergraduate level and I'm not very familiar with the best graduate level texts.


I'd add Landau for stat mech, it's really the only good text. A lot of people use Pathria as well. For math reference (such as the above mentioned tensor notation), definitely pick up Arfken, though the new printing has a lot of typos not present in the old ones, so older editions are better. Classical Mechanics is Goldstein, though again watch for typos.




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