Physics for Undergrads


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Physics for Undergrads

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Jun. 16, 2007, 5:05pm

I am an Undergraduate studying to get my Engineering Physics degree. My interest in Physics was sparked you could say after a couple of solid years in this degree program. Ive read Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos. So I have an extremely basic understanding of the conflict between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, and possibly an even further basic understanding of the concepts themselves and the mathematics behind them.

What can i pick up to read that wont be too advanced, but not too basic either, related to General Relativity and/or Quantum Mechanics? Is there something else I should be reading as well? Also, I would be interested in any suggestions of interesting books dealing with any area of Physics.

Jun. 19, 2007, 12:22am

The Road to Reality by Penrose is good, tome like, and offers a overview of just about everything you will ever encounter in mathematics or physics. While self contained, without a very strong mathematics background expect not to understand everything the first time. However, it does a very good job giving a broad overview of the mathematics behind most of physics, especially quantum/relativity, and exposing you to some ideas that often are not mentioned in physics texts.
Dirac's quantum physics book is cheap and a classic. Its not easy, but if you struggle through most of it you will understand the fundamentals of most of quantum mechanics. Instead of starting with wave equations it goes directly to operators which are much more intuitive (at least to me). A linear algebra course up to at least eigenvectors/values makes this book significantly easier (but it is still quite hard, but a worthwhile journey).

Bearbeitet: Nov. 26, 2007, 1:40am

If you want to read someone who runs counter to Brian Greene, check out one of the books by Lee Smolin (I think I read Three Roads to Quantum Gravity). Smolin is one of the chief proponents of loop quantum gravity as a means to unify relativity and quantum mechanics. This stuff is much too far out of my area of expertise for me to weigh in on which ideas I prefer (keep in mind that a much larger chunk of the theoretical physics community is in the string camp, as opposed to the loop quantum gravity camp), but Lee Smolin is an undeniably good writer.