Reddit mentions: The best physics books

We found 1,984 Reddit comments discussing the best physics books. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 687 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

TLDR: the best physics book according to Reddit

1. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)
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1Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)Introduction to Quantum Mecha...35
2QED: The Strange Theory of Light and MatterQED: The Strange Theory of Li...17
3Classical MechanicsClassical Mechanics15
4Spacetime PhysicsSpacetime Physics14
5Think: A Compelling Introduction to PhilosophyThink: A Compelling Introduct...13
6QED: The Strange Theory of Light and MatterQED: The Strange Theory of Li...12
7Understanding Physics (Motion, Sound, and Heat / Light, Magnetism, and Electricity / The Electron, Proton, and Neutron)Understanding Physics (Motion...11
8Principles of Quantum Mechanics, 2nd EditionPrinciples of Quantum Mechani...10
9The Feynman Lectures on Physics, boxed set: The New Millennium EditionThe Feynman Lectures on Physi...10
10An Introduction to Thermal PhysicsAn Introduction to Thermal Ph...8
11Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-TimeSix Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einst...8
12Introduction to Quantum MechanicsIntroduction to Quantum Mecha...8
13Gravity: An Introduction to EinsteinGravity: An Introduction to E...7
14The Feynman Lectures on Physics (3 Volume Set)The Feynman Lectures on Physi...7
15Introduction to Quantum MechanicsIntroduction to Quantum Mecha...7
16Quantum: A Guide for the PerplexedQuantum: A Guide for the Perp...6
17Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New PhysicsDancing Wu Li Masters: An Ove...6
18Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General RelativitySpacetime and Geometry: An In...6
19Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics NaturalizedEvery Thing Must Go: Metaphys...6
20Quantum Mechanics and ExperienceQuantum Mechanics and Experie...6

1. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)

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2. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

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3. Classical Mechanics

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4. Spacetime Physics

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5. Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

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6. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

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8. Principles of Quantum Mechanics, 2nd Edition

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9. The Feynman Lectures on Physics, boxed set: The New Millennium Edition

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10. An Introduction to Thermal Physics

  • 3 Quiet, Energy-Efficient Speeds - allows this free standing pedestal fan to provide a cooling breeze around the home or home office. With a portable design, this fan is ideal for the bedroom, living room, or near your desk. Low, medium, and high speed make this fan well suited around the whole house.
  • Adjustable Height & Tilt-back Head - give you the ability to direct the cooling air right where you need it. The fan's stand or pedestal, adjusts up or down changing the fan's height from 38 to 54.5 inch while the tilt-back head lets you aim the air towards the floor, ceiling, or anywhere in between.
  • Widespread Oscillation - describes the action of the fan head moving from side to side to blow air throughout the area. Oscillation allows for the fan to provide ventilation for a wide area. This makes the fan great for large rooms.
  • Blue Plug Patented Safety Fuse Technology - this built-in safety feature places a fuse directly in the plug of the power cord. If the fuse detects a potentially hazardous electrical fault it will cut off electric current to the fan, preventing a potential safety hazard. Extension/Depth-2 inch. Backplate/Canopy Width-4.25 inch. Backplate/Canopy Length-24 inch. Backplate/Canopy Thickness-0.81 inch
  • Simple No Tools Assembly - means you'll have your fan assembled in no time. Simply follow the included instructions to assemble the base mount to the extension pipe, fan blades and grill and you're done. This fan is both metal and plastic. The motor and other parts are metal, while other parts are plastic
An Introduction to Thermal Physics
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11. Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time

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12. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

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13. Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity

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15. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

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16. Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed

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17. Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics

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Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics
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18. Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity

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🎓 Reddit experts on physics books

The comments and opinions expressed on this page are written exclusively by redditors. To provide you with the most relevant data, we sourced opinions from the most knowledgeable Reddit users based the total number of upvotes and downvotes received across comments on subreddits where physics books are discussed. For your reference and for the sake of transparency, here are the specialists whose opinions mattered the most in our ranking.
Total score: 91
Number of comments: 12
Relevant subreddits: 3
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Total score: 20
Number of comments: 15
Relevant subreddits: 1

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Top Reddit comments about Physics:

u/proffrobot · 1 pointr/AskPhysics

It's great that you want to study particle physics and String Theory! It's a really interesting subject. Getting a degree in physics can often make you a useful person so long as you make sure you get some transferable skills (like programming and whatnot). I'll reiterate the standard advice for going further in physics, and in particular in theoretical physics, in the hope that you will take it to heart. Only go into theoretical physics if you really enjoy it. Do it for no other reason. If you want to become a professor, there are other areas of physics which are far easier to accomplish that in. If you want to be famous, become an actor or a writer or go into science communication and become the new Bill Nye. I'm not saying the only reason to do it is if you're obsessed with it, but you've got to really enjoy it and find it fulfilling for it's own sake as the likelihood of becoming a professor in it is so slim. Then, if your academic dreams don't work out, you won't regret the time you spent, and you'll always have the drive to keep learning and doing more, whatever happens to you academically.

With that out of the way, the biggest chunk of learning you'll do as a theorist is math. A decent book (which I used in my undergraduate degree) which covers the majority of the math you need to understand basic physics, e.g. Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics and Electromagnetism. Is this guy: Maths It's not a textbook you can read cover to cover, but it's a really good reference, and undoubtably, should you go and do a physics degree, you'll end up owning something like it. If you like maths now and want to learn more of it, then it's a good book to do it with.

The rest of the books I'll recommend to you have a minimal number of equations, but explain a lot of concepts and other interesting goodies. To really understand the subjects you need textbooks, but you need the math to understand them first and it's unlikely you're there yet. If you want textbook suggestions let me know, but if you haven't read the books below they're good anyway.

First, particle physics. This book Deep Down Things is a really great book about the history and ideas behind modern particles physics and the standard model. I can't recommend it enough.

Next, General Relativity. If you're interested in String Theory you're going to need to become an expert in General Relativity. This book: General Relativity from A to B explains the ideas behind GR without a lot of math, but it does so in a precise way. It's a really good book.

Next, Quantum Mechanics. This book: In Search of Schrodinger's Cat is a great introduction to the people and ideas of Quantum Mechanics. I like it a lot.

For general physics knowledge. Lots of people really like the
Feynman Lectures They cover everything and so have quite a bit of math in them. As a taster you can get a couple of books: Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces, though the not so easy pieces are a bit more mathematically minded.

Now I'll take the opportunity to recommend my own pet favourite book. The Road to Reality. Roger Penrose wrote this to prove that anyone could understand all of theoretical physics, as such it's one of the hardest books you can read, but it is fascinating and tells you about concepts all the way up to String Theory. If you've got time to think and work on the exercises I found it well worth the time. All the math that's needed is explained in the book, which is good, but it's certainly not easy!

Lastly, for understanding more of the ideas which underlie theoretical physics, this is a good book: Philsophy of Physics: Space and Time It's not the best, but the ideas behind theoretical physics thought are important and this is an interesting and subtle book. I'd put it last on the reading list though.

Anyway, I hope that helps, keep learning about physics and asking questions! If there's anything else you want to know, feel free to ask.

u/RealityApologist · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

The best intro I'm familiar with is Theory and Reality by Peter Godfrey-Smith. That's what I use for introductory courses.

Other than that, here are a few other things that (depending on your interests) might be worth your time. These are probably best read after you've gotten some exposure to the basics, which Theory and Reality should more than suffice to achieve. In no particular order:

  • Philip Kitcher's Science in a Democratic Society and/or Science, Truth, and Democracy both directly address how to reconcile the value of science with other things that we might also value. Kitcher's a naturalist through and through, but he's also quite pluralistic in his thinking. Both those books tackle the question of what science is good for, what it isn't good for, and how we might go about integrating scientific expertise into an egalitarian society.

  • Nancy Cartwright's A Dappled World. This is a very, very widely-cited classic, and a must-read at some point. I don't agree with her thesis, but it's an excellent book and is very well presented.

  • Bas van Fraassen's The Scientific Image. Another classic that's been very influential. Again, I disagree with a lot of what he says, but he writes clearly and makes many great points.

  • Stathis Psillos' Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth. A clear, cogent defense of scientific realism.

  • James Ladyman and Don Ross' Every Thing Must Go. A spirited and unflinching defense of what philosophy as a whole should look like if it wants to take science seriously. It's not an easy book if you're not well-versed on physics, but it's one of my favorites.

  • Eric Winsberg's Science in the Age of Computer Simulation. A great look at how advances in computation are changing what science looks like. This is a personal interest, but I still think it's a great book.

  • Tim Maudlin's The Metaphysics Within Physics. A look at laws, explanation, and metaphysics from the perspective of physical theory.

  • Michael Strevens' Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. One of the best books on scientific explanation (and what makes it distinctive) around. Long, but worth it.

  • Oppenheim & Putnam's article "The Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis". Flawed, but on the right track. A good discussion of how the different sciences fit together.

  • Jerry Fodor's article "Special Sciences (or: The Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis)" a counterpoint to Oppenhein & Putnam, and another very influential article. I don't like Fodor very much, but it's a good piece.

    I could go on indefinitely with this, but that's probably more than enough to keep you going for a few years. As an aside (and since you mentioned complexity already), I also recommend that anyone interested in the philosophy of science take a look at Cliff Hooker's anthology The Philosophy of Complex Systems Theory, which is (somehow) currently hanging out online for free. I paid something like $200 for the book, and while I think it was worth it, the fact that the PDF is right there is amazing. It's an incredibly wide-ranging look at some of the ways in which both philosophy and science are being shaped by complexity theory these days. It's really great.
u/BlackBrane · 7 pointsr/quantum

This sub can be pretty good, but you're sure to find much more activity over on /r/physics. We usually like to direct questions to /r/AskPhysics but it's definitely not as well trafficked.

The main introductory textbook for physics undergrads is Griffiths, and for good reason. It's widely agreed to be the best book to begin a proper undertaking of QM if you have the key prerequisites down. You definitely need to be comfortable with linear algebra (the most important) as well as multivariable calculus and basic concepts of partial differential equations.

Im sure you can find some good free resources as well. One promising free book I've found is A Course in Quantum Computing (pdf). It actually teaches you the basics of linear algebra and complex numbers that you need, so if you feel weak on those this might be a good choice. I haven't really used it myself but it certainly looks like a good resource.

Finally, another well-regarded resource are Susskind's lectures at his website The Theoretical Minimum. He also has a book by the same name. They tend to be rather laid back and very gentle, while introducing you to the basic substance of the field. If you wanted, I'm sure you could find some more proper university-style lectures on Youtube as well.

u/InfanticideAquifer · 3 pointsr/philosophy

The claim that "time is exactly like space" is not true. Time is treated as a dimension in Special Relativity (SR) and General Relativity (GR), but it is very different from the "usual" spatial dimensions. (It boils down to "distance" along the time direction being negative, but that statement doesn't really mean anything out of context.) The central idea of relativity is that while the entire four dimensional "thing" (spacetime) just is (is invariant), different observers will have different ideas about which way the time direction points; it turns out to be convenient for our description of nature to respect the natural "democratic" equivalence of all hypothetical observers.

I can point you to a couple of good resources:

is a very good, book about SR, and some "other stuff". It's pretty mathematical, and I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't totally comfortable with college level intro physics and calculus.

is the "standard" text for undergraduate SR; it's less demanding than the above, but uses mathematical language that won't translate immediately if you go on to study GR. (I have not read this myself.)

This is the book that I learned from; I thought it was pretty good.

This is Brian Greene's famous popularization of String Theory. It has chapters in the beginning on SR and Quantum Mechanics that I think are quite good.

This is Einstein's own popularization, only algebra required. All the examples that others use to explain SR pretty much come from here, and sometimes it's good to go right to the source.

This is a collection of the most important works leading up to and including relativity, from Galileo to Einstein, in case you'd like to take a look at the original paper (translated). The SR paper requires more of a conceptual physical background than a mathematical one; the same can't be said of the included GR paper.

I don't know what your background is--the first three options above are textbooks, and that's probably much more than you were hoping to get into. The last three are not; the book by Brian Greene and the collection (edited by Stephen Hawking) are interesting for other reasons besides relativity as well. For SR, though, another book by Greene might be a bit better: this.

u/The-Ninja · 2 pointsr/PhysicsStudents

The Physics AS/A Levels are a funny lot of modules; I believe they're designed to be doable without any A Level-equivalent Maths knowledge, so they're riddled with weird explanations that really try to avoid maths - which often just makes everything harder in the long run. (I did AQA Physics A, but all were pretty similar as far as I gathered.)

With that in mind, if you're looking to study Physics further on, I'd recommend supplementing your mathematics. If you're doing Further Maths, you probably needn't bother, as the first year of any university course will bore you to death repeating everything you learnt about calculus etc.; if you're doing single Maths, I'd recommend getting confident with C1-4, and maybe purchasing the Edexcel (Keith Pledger) FP1/FP2 books to get slightly ahead before uni. They're great books, so might be useful to have for Y1 of uni and reference thereafter regardless. I was quite put off by the attitude towards Y1 maths of the Further Maths people (about half the cohort), who kept moaning about having done it all already, so found focusing in lectures a tad harder; I wish I'd bothered to read just a little ahead.

The second thing I'd recommend would be reading fairly broadly in physics to understand what aspect in particular you enjoy the most. In my experience, the students who have even a rough idea of what they want to do in the future perform better, as they have motivation behind certain modules and know how to prioritise for a particular goal, e.g. summer placement at a company which will look for good laboratory work, or even as far as field of research.

To that end (and beginning to answer the post!), books that aren't overly pop-science, like Feynman's Six Easy Pieces/Six Not-so-Easy Pieces are good (being a selection of lectures from The Feynman Lectures). Marcus Chown does a similarly good job of not dumbing things down too much in Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You and We Need to Talk About Kelvin, and he talks about a good variety of physical phenomena, which you can look up online if they interest you. I could recommend more, but it really depends how you want to expand your physics knowledge!

E - darn, just read you're not in the UK. Oops. Mostly still applies.

u/armour_de · 8 pointsr/askscience

These rules arise from the solutions of the Schroedinger equation for a central potential.

The nucleus of the atom provides an attractive potential in which electrons can be bound. As the mass of even a single proton is roughly 1800 times that of an electron the nuclei can be treated as stationary charged points that the electrons orbit around. The resulting coulomb potential is a central potential, that is it only depends on the distance from the nucleus, not the direction from the nucleus.

See for some of the derivation, but if you don't know differential equations and quantum mechanics at least at an introductory level it will not make much sense. Griffiths does a good introductory quantum text if you are interested in reading more. Link on

As it is a bound system in quantum mechanics only certain values of energy and momentum can be taken. The allowed energy levels are denoted by the quantum number n. The energy of a level is given is proportional to -1/n^2 in the simple hydrogenic atom model where the energy is negative that gives a bound state, and energies above zero are unbound, so as the energy increase the electrons in the higher n orbitals require less energy to become unbound.

For a given n there are certain values of angular momentum that can occur, and these are designated l and range from 0 to n. For a given l there are then the m_l magnetic quantum numbers ranging from +l to -l in integer steps. In the simple atom models the m_l do not effect the energy level.

Higher angular momentum of the electron implies a higher energy So 2s (n=1,l=0, m_l=0) has lower energy than 2p (n=2, l=1, m_l= 1,0,-1)

Each letter corresponds to an l value and arose from the way the lines looked in spectrographs and the meaning of the letter abbreviation is pretty much ignored these days with the current understanding of the the underlying quantum numbers.

s-> l=0 (sharp lines)

p->l=1 (principle lines)

d->l=2 (diffuse lines)

f->l=3 (fundamental lines)

Shows some of the simpler rules for determining the order of filling of the orbitals based on the energy level of the combined n and l values.

Two show how oxygen needs an octet to be stable we can do:

Oxygen has 8 protons and will be neutral with 8 electrons.

2 go into the 1s orbital, and it it is designated 1s^2, the superscript giving the number of electrons present in the n=1 l=0 m_l=0 and m_s =+1/2,-1/2. m_s is the magnetic quantum number for the electrons own internal angular momentum which has s=1/2 so can take m_s=+1/2 or m_s=-1/2.

The next higher energy orbital (look at the squiggly line diagram giving the filling order for electrons into orbitals, this is essentially filling in order of lowest energy orbitals first) is the 2s and it can have two electrons like the 1s, so we write 2s^2 for the full orbital.

There are now 4 more electrons to take care of, and they can go into the 2p orbital and that can hold up to 6 electrons, but we only fill in 4 for 2p^4 .

We can fully write the electron configuration as 1s^2 2s^2 2p^4 . If the oxygen borrows two more electrons (say one each from two hydrogens) they can move into the remaining 2p orbitals that are not full.

In the n=2 orbitals that then gives a total of 8 electrons.

Going into the higher orbitals requires more energy than the lower orbitals so it would not be a stable ground state. To put it differently if two hydrogen atoms are going bond to an oxygen it needs to go into a lower energy state than the separate atoms. If a bound state does occur with the lower energy atoms this is then an excited state that will decay into the grounds state by emission of a photon (light).

u/MetalMagnum · 4 pointsr/AskPhysics

Hiya! I'm a recent physics/computer science graduate and although I can't think of any super cool handmade options off the top of my head, there are some physics books that I find interesting that your boyfriend may enjoy. One solid idea would be just about anything written by Richard Feynman. Reading through the Feynman Lectures is pretty standard for all physicists, though there are free versions online as well. There are a few others, such as The Pleasure of Finding things Out and Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman. There's also a cool graphic novel that recounts the events of his life called Feynman by Ottaviani. If you're not familiar with who this guy is, he is a colorful and concise orator who won a nobel prize in physics. His biggest contributions were in nuclear physics and quantum computation, and his quirks make his explanations of these topics very interesting. The Feynman Lectures are more formal, while his personal books are a mixture of personal experience and explanation.

Something else that I typically gift all of my friends who are problem solvers interested in physics is the book Thinking Physics. This book is great for developing some high level intuition in every field of physics (mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, etc.). This book is great because it's broken into small digestible sections that build your knowledge as you solve more of the questions (solutions are given).

Good luck!

u/frodofish · 1 pointr/philosophy

My first response is that probabilistic doesn't mean unpredictable - just the opposite in fact. It may not be possible to say with 100% certainty the outcome of any particular event but the predictions of Quantum Mechanics ultimately boil down to Newtons laws on a macroscopic scale leaving little doubt about the power of prediction. Besides there are quantum effects such as tunneling which happen but would be classically impossible (tunneling is when a particle with finite energy passes through a larger potential barrier). It's a fascinating subject and without a doubt a strange one.

The classical physics treatment is Griffiths:

I don't know your math background but it requires a minimum of linear algebra and ordinary differential equations. In reality you need partial differential equations as well but you can get an enormous amount out of it without them. Without knowing your specific background it's hard to tell where to start and it's such a broad subject (hell I've had over a year worth of courses dedicated to the subject not to mention subatomic physics which is basically a continuation of QM and I still don't understand it all) that starting at all is impressive.

It's worth noting that there are two completely different (but equivalent) formulations of QM developed independently. One is almost entirely formulated through matrices the other being through the schroedinger equation. I am personally not deeply familiar with the matrix formulation but if you are strong in linear algebra and weak on ODE/PDE that might be a place to start.

If starting with a text book is too much (and it sure would have been for me had I not been taking it as a course) try going through wikipedia just to see what makes sense and what doesn't. If you start doing some reading and have any questions feel free to PM me and I would be happy to answer as best I can or head over to r/physics - they are generally nice guys as long as the question is fairly specific. Best of luck!

u/Cronecker · 2 pointsr/physicsbooks

Have you had a look at Carroll's general relativity notes? Chapters 2 and 3 are predominantly about developing the mathematics behind GR, and are very good introductions to this. I have a copy of Carroll's book and I can promise you that those chapters are almost unchanged in the book as compared to the lecture notes. This is my main suggestion really, as the notes are freely available, written by an absolute expert and a joy to read. I can't recommend them (and the book really) enough.

Most undergraduate books on general relativity start with a "physics first" type approach, where the underlying material about manifolds and curvature is developed as it is needed. The only problem with this is that it makes seeing the underlying picture for how the material works more difficult. I wouldn't neccessarily say avoid these sort of books (my favourite two of this kind would be Cheng's book and Hartle's.) but be aware that they are probably not what you are looking for if you want a consistent description of the mathematics.

I would also say avoid the harder end of the scale (Wald) till you've at least done your course. Wald is a tough book, and certainly not aimed at people seeing the material for the first time.

Another useful idea would be looking for lecture notes from other universities. As an example, there are some useful notes here from cambridge university. Generally I find doing searches like "general relativity filetype:pdf" in google is a good way to get started searching for decent lecture notes from other universities.

If you're willing to dive in a bit more to the mathematics, the riemannian geometry book by DoCarmo is supposed to be excellent, although I've only seen his differential geometry book (which was very good). As a word of warning, this book might assume knowledge of differential geometry from his earlier book. The book you linked by Bishop also looks fine, and there is also the book by Schutz which is supposed to be great and this book by Sternberg which looks pretty good, although quite tough.

Finally, if you would like I have a dropbox folder of collected together material for GR which I could share with you. It's not much, but I've got some decent stuff collected together which could be very helpful. As a qualifier, I had to teach myself GR for my undergrad project, so I know how it feels being on your own with it. Good luck!

u/sunnbeta · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

>To answer I guess it would be an unusual intentional altering of normal physical processes by some agent outside those processes. Or something, kind of hard to come up with one that fits everything.

That sounds like a good definition. I still don’t know how we (a) separate a natural event from one caused by an outside agent, whatever that is, and (b) how we can tell if claims of miracles are true or just made up. Like it would be a miracle if David Copperfield really transported himself, but he merely gives the illusion of doing this.

>To answer I guess it would be an unusual intentional altering of normal physical processes by some agent outside those processes. Or something, kind of hard to come up with one that fits everything.

What is the overwhelming evidence? I mean what is your very best bit of evidence? Or top 3, top 5, top 10...

At the end I know you take me up on some other sources, which I will provide, and a key learning of them is that it’s really hard to actually figure out real truths, to be really sure of things, and it’s very easy to fool yourself along the way. Just think that for many people, for a long time, even with overwhelming evidence of it being the case, it would have appeared that the sun/moon/stars moved around the earth, being at the center. But that would have been wrong. This is how careful you need to be before accepting things as true, because it’s very easy to fool yourself.

>Muhammed was the most obvious false prophet in history. Allah is capricious, even to muslims, arbitrarily allowing believers into heaven or not.

So what? How do we know God (if he exists) is even the “good guy”?

>Whether or not I picked the right one, I would not pick one so obviously wrong

What are you basing your notion of “wrong” on? Some subjective personal feeling about how God must be?

>Not all miracles are equivalent, and not all miracle accounts are equivalent.

I agree, some can be made up on the spot, others talking about for centuries. But which ones can you actually demonstrate to be true?

The link you provide gives no evidence outside of a circular argument based on Biblical accounts. Anyone can write down a claim in a book, that is still just a claim, not evidence of the claim.

>There are no physically possible options

You’re claiming to know. And maybe you’re even right, maybe there are no “physically possible” options whatever that means. Maybe there is a non-physical option. But the simple truth is we don’t know what that is (we can only take faith in some version of it, which again, is a horrible way to figure out truth).

>The appropriate answer is that we do know - no natural options are possible, therefore the origin is supernatural.

there are also a whole hell of a lot of “supernatural” options. Could be the Christian God, could be Allah, could be as George Carlin put it, some supernatural force that brought the universe as we know it into existence but doesn’t care about us at all (I think probably the most likely, to assume otherwise is very hubristic):

>You think that the unscientific musings some people use to explain the origin of the laws of physics are somehow so robust that it becomes a scientific certainty that the laws of physics could not have changed since then? Is that what you're saying?

Just show me the evidence that they’ve changed and we can put this to bed.

>So I guess you prefer circular reasoning, or perhaps an infinite regression? Those are the only three options according to baron von munchhausen, so let me know what you choose before attacking axiomatic reasoning.

I already said it’s UNKNOWN. Maybe it’s an unknown supernatural force that set things in motion but isn’t conscious, doesn’t care. Maybe it’s an infinite regress we can’t understand. You are the one using circular arguments to state it must be a certain way. You even seem certain that Mohammed is a false prophet. Please go take your evidence for that to the Middle East because it would solve a lot of problems.

I see you think the Quran is disproven through contradictions. Maybe that’s one reason to question it, but I think the bigger problem is simply that it has not been proven because evidence hasn’t been provided to confirm it’s truth. It has to be accepted on faith that it is the word of God as given to Mohammed. Same problem with the Bible, it has to be taken on faith that it’s portraying real events (like the resurrection of Jesus).

Now for the information I offered, I would start with a short video and a commencement speech;

(He talks about pseudosciences and poor approaches to science, and please just realize that religious claims are like another order of magnitude more absurd when it comes to accepting them as true)

These both deal with the pitfalls we can succumb to and “fool ourselves”, and how difficult it is to really figure something out. If this interests you even slightly, I highly highly suggest this book:

Because he is able to describe the known (DEMONSTRATED) behavior of light and quantum mechanics, without using any equations, and tells you how it really is. The purpose of reading this (even just the first couple chapters) is to provide an understanding of the level of depth us humans have been able to go to in understanding the world around us, and help you put Biblical claims into context. The fact that Biblical claims come nowhere remotely close to fitting the most bare bones requirements that would be applied to saying a scientific theory is true, I know most theists dismiss as “well that’s because this is outside the realm of science” - but you’ve never demonstrated that! Again it all comes down to faith, and it not the fault of science that we’ve learned how to really learn things, not just take faith in some story.

u/themeaningofhaste · 5 pointsr/AskAcademia

Griffiths is the go-to for advanced undergraduate level texts, so you might consider his Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Introduction to Particle Physics. I used Townsend's A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics to teach myself and I thought that was a pretty good book.

I'm not sure if you mean special or general relativity. For special, /u/Ragall's suggestion of Taylor is good but is aimed an more of an intermediate undergraduate; still worth checking out I think. I've heard Taylor (different Taylor) and Wheeler's Spacetime Physics is good but I don't know much more about it. For general relativity, I think Hartle's Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity and Carroll's Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity are what you want to look for. Hartle is slightly lower level but both are close. Carroll is probably better if you want one book and want a bit more of the math.

Online resources are improving, and you might find luck in opencourseware type websites. I'm not too knowledgeable in these, and I think books, while expensive, are a great investment if you are planning to spend a long time in the field.

One note: teaching yourself is great, but a grad program will be concerned if it doesn't show up on a transcript. This being said, the big four in US institutions are Classical Mechanics, E&M, Thermodynamics/Stat Mech, and QM. You should have all four but you can sometimes get away with three. Expectations of other courses vary by school, which is why programs don't always expect things like GR, fluid mechanics, etc.

I hope that helps!

u/LRE · 8 pointsr/exjw

Random selection of some of my favorites to help you expand your horizons:

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan is a great introduction to scientific skepticism.

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris is a succinct refutation of Christianity as it's generally practiced in the US employing crystal-clear logic.

Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt is the best biography of one of the most interesting men in history, in my personal opinion.

Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski is a jaw-dropping book on history, journalism, travel, contemporary events, philosophy.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a great tome about... everything. Physics, history, biology, art... Plus he's funny as hell. (Check out his In a Sunburned Country for a side-splitting account of his trip to Australia).

The Annotated Mona Lisa by Carol Strickland is a thorough primer on art history. Get it before going to any major museum (Met, Louvre, Tate Modern, Prado, etc).

Not the Impossible Faith by Richard Carrier is a detailed refutation of the whole 'Christianity could not have survived the early years if it weren't for god's providence' argument.

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman are six of the easier chapters from his '63 Lectures on Physics delivered at CalTech. If you like it and really want to be mind-fucked with science, his QED is a great book on quantum electrodynamics direct from the master.

Lucy's Legacy by Donald Johanson will give you a really great understanding of our family history (homo, australopithecus, ardipithecus, etc). Equally good are Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade and Mapping Human History by Steve Olson, though I personally enjoyed Before the Dawn slightly more.

Memory and the Mediterranean by Fernand Braudel gives you context for all the Bible stories by detailing contemporaneous events from the Levant, Italy, Greece, Egypt, etc.

After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton is an awesome read if you don't know much about Islam and its early history.

Happy reading!

edit: Also, check out the Reasonable Doubts podcast.

u/MahatmaGandalf · 2 pointsr/AskPhysics

You sound like a great audience for the series I recommend to everyone in your position: Lenny Susskind's Theoretical Minimum. He's got free lectures and accompanying books which are designed with the sole purpose of getting you from zero to sixty as fast as possible. I'm sure others will have valuable suggestions, but that's mine.

The series is designed for people who took some math classes in college, and maybe an intro physics class, but never had the chance to go further. However, it does assume that you are comfortable with calculus, and more doesn't hurt. What's your math background like?

As to the LHC and other bleeding-edge physics: unfortunately, this stuff takes a lot of investment to really get at, if you want to be at the level where you can do the actual derivations—well beyond where an undergrad quantum course would land you. If you're okay with a more heuristic picture, you could read popular-science books on particle physics and combine that with a more quantitative experience from other sources.

But if you are thinking of doing this over a very long period of time, I would suggest that you could pretty easily attain an advanced-undergraduate understanding of particle physics through self-study—enough to do some calculations, though the actual how and why may not be apparent. If you're willing to put in a little cash and more than a little time for this project, here's what I suggest:

  • Pick up a book on introductory physics (with calculus). It doesn't really matter which. Make sure you're good with the basic concepts—force, momentum, energy, work, etc.

  • Learn special relativity. It does not take too long, and is not math-intensive, but it can be very confusing. There are lots of ways to do it—lots of online sources too. My favorite book for introductory SR is this one.

  • Use a book or online resources to become familiar with the basics (just the basics) of differential equations and linear algebra. It sounds more scary than it is.

  • Get a copy of Griffiths' books on quantum mechanics and particle physics. These are undergrad-level textbooks, but pretty accessible! Read the quantum book first—and do at least a few exercises—and then you should be able to get a whole lot out of reading the particle physics book.

    Note that this is sort of the fastest way to get into particle physics. If you want to take this route, you should still be prepared to spread it out over a couple years—and it will leave a whole smattering of gaps in your knowledge. But hey, if you enjoy it, you could legitimately come to understand a lot about the universe through self-study!
u/kentaro86 · 2 pointsr/UCSantaBarbara

I don't have any old problem sets off hand, but I could point you towards all the topics you should know and be familiar with. It's basically the first 3 chapters of Griffiths -- by the end of the quarter you should know everything from these chapters extremely well.
As for an explicit list of things to do, I would recommend (in this order, more or less)

  • get familiar with using probability distributions, complex numbers (i.e. integrating probability densities to find probabilities, means, standard deviations, complex conjugates, norm squared, normalization, etc.)

  • try to grasp the idea of operators (e.g. position, momentum), observables/hermitian operators, commutation relations, and what is means when two observables commute or not (thing about eigenstates, sequential measurements, uncertainty principle,...)

  • derive solution to infinite square well (0 < x < a ; -a < x < a)

  • derive solution to harmonic oscillator (focus on algebraic derivation, raising and lowering operators are extremely
    important later on)

  • calculate expectation values of x, x^2 for the oscillator using ladder operators (this is to highlight orthogonality of eigenstates)

  • derive free particle, examine scattering (E > 0) and bound (E < 0) states

  • derive delta well, finite square well and calculate transmission/reflection coefficients (and bound states for delta well)

  • read up on and use Dirac notation until it is second nature. redo first bullet point with this notation (this could be useful to do first so that you can practice it)

  • understand the level of abstraction for a ket and what it means to "multiply" by a bra and express an equation in the basis (as described by the bra)

  • revisit the idea of operators in a specific basis

  • derive generalized uncertainty principle, revisit non-commuting operators

    Hopefully, that gets you started off, but for 110A it may be worth the time to learn Einstein summation notation -- it'll come in handy.

    Good luck!

    Edit: formatting
u/oro_boris · 3 pointsr/Physics

> Why is a photon massless and still has momentum?

Because momentum isn’t actually p = mv, as in Newtonian mechanics, but it’s really

p = ( E/c^2 ) v

For objects with a non-zero mass m, moving non-relativistically, E is approximately equal to mc^2 and then p is approximately equal to mv, the Newtonian value.

However, photons are intrinsically relativistic. They have energy even though they don’t have mass (their energy is proportional to their frequency, E = hf, where h is Planck’s constant) and, so, they also carry momentum. In fact, since their speed (in vacuum) is always c, the magnitude of their momentum, using the above results, is always p = E/c = h f/c = h/wavelength.

> Why can't anything go beyond the speed of light? (Cliché but I never really understood why despite of many videos floating on YouTube)

Please take a read at this post I wrote here some time ago, where I address that question. Please ignore the first two paragraphs as those were part of a rant.

> How does a magnetic field originate?

A magnetic field is created by electric charges in motion. Since, however, motion is relative (you’re not moving with respect to your chair but you are moving with respect to, say, the Sun), so is a magnetic field. In a reference frame where an electric charge is at rest, you’ll only measure the electric field generated by the charge. In a reference frame where the charge is in motion, you’ll observe both an electric field and a magnetic field.

Excellent introductory books on special relativity, in my opinion, are (in increasing order of difficulty):

Special Relativity: For the Enthusiastic Beginner

Special Relativity (Mit Introductory Physics Series)


Spacetime Physics: Introduction to Special Relativity

Einstein’s own books are pretty great too, and are now in the public domain. Search the Gutenberg project for them.

u/HQuez · 2 pointsr/AskPhysics

For math you're going to need to know calculus, differential equations (partial and ordinary), and linear algebra.

For calculus, you're going to start with learning about differentiating and limits and whatnot. Then you're going to learn about integrating and series. Series is going to seem a little useless at first, but make sure you don't just skim it, because it becomes very important for physics. Once you learn integration, and integration techniques, you're going to want to go learn multi-variable calculus and vector calculus. Personally, this was the hardest thing for me to learn and I still have problems with it.

While you're learning calculus you can do some lower level physics. I personally liked Halliday, Resnik, and Walker, but I've also heard Giancoli is good. These will give you the basic, idealized world physics understandings, and not too much calculus is involved. You will go through mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and "modern physics". You're going to go through these subjects again, but don't skip this part of the process, as you will need the grounding for later.

So, now you have the first two years of a physics degree done, it's time for the big boy stuff (that is the thing that separates the physicists from the engineers). You could get a differential equations and linear algebra books, and I highly suggest you do, but you could skip that and learn it from a physics reference book. Boaz will teach you the linear and the diffe q's you will need to know, along with almost every other post-calculus class math concept you will need for physics. I've also heard that Arfken, Weber, and Harris is a good reference book, but I have personally never used it, and I dont' know if it teaches linear and diffe q's. These are pretty much must-haves though, as they go through things like fourier series and calculus of variations (and a lot of other techniques), which are extremely important to know for what is about to come to you in the next paragraph.

Now that you have a solid mathematical basis, you can get deeper into what you learned in Halliday, Resnik, and Walker, or Giancoli, or whatever you used to get you basis down. You're going to do mechanics, E&M, Thermodynamis/Statistical Analysis, and quantum mechanics again! (yippee). These books will go way deeper into theses subjects, and need a lot more rigorous math. They take that you already know the lower-division stuff for granted, so they don't really teach those all that much. They're tough, very tough. Obvioulsy there are other texts you can go to, but these are the one I am most familiar with.

A few notes. These are just the core classes, anybody going through a physics program will also do labs, research, programming, astro, chemistry, biology, engineering, advanced math, and/or a variety of different things to supplement their degree. There a very few physicists that I know who took the exact same route/class.

These books all have practice problems. Do them. You don't learn physics by reading, you learn by doing. You don't have to do every problem, but you should do a fair amount. This means the theory questions and the math heavy questions. Your theory means nothing without the math to back it up.

Lastly, physics is very demanding. In my experience, most physics students have to pretty much dedicate almost all their time to the craft. This is with instructors, ta's, and tutors helping us along the way. When I say all their time, I mean up until at least midnight (often later) studying/doing work. I commend you on wanting to self-teach yourself, but if you want to learn physics, get into a classroom at your local junior college and start there (I think you'll need a half year of calculus though before you can start doing physics). Some of the concepts are hard (very hard) to understand properly, and the internet stops being very useful very quickly. Having an expert to guide you helps a lot.

Good luck on your journey!

u/WillWeisser · 1 pointr/books

Personally, I think you would get great suggestions on /r/physics. But since you're here...

Since you seem like you're just dipping your toes in the water, you might want to start off with something basic like Hawking (A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell).

I highly recommend Feynman's QED, it's short but there's really no other book like it. Anything else by Feynman is great too. I found this on Amazon and though I haven't read it, I can tell you that he was the greatest at explaining complex topics to a mass audience.

You'll probably want to read about relativity too, although my knowledge of books here is limited. Someone else can chime in, maybe. When I was a kid I read Einstein for Beginners and loved it, but that's a comic book so it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

If you really want to understand quantum mechanics and don't mind a little calculus (OK, a lot), try the textbook Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths. Don't settle for hokey popular misconceptions of how QM works, this is the real thing and it will blow your mind.

Finally, the most recent popular physics book I read and really enjoyed was The Trouble with Physics by Smolin. It's ostensibly a book about how string theory is likely incorrect, but it also contains really great segments about the current state of particle physics and the standard model.

u/thepastry · 4 pointsr/Physics

I just want to point out one thing that everyone seems to be glossing over: when people say that you'll need to review classical mechanics, they aren't talking only about Newtonian Mechanics. The standard treatment of Quantum Mechanics draws heavily from an alternative formulation of classical mechanics known as Hamiltonian Mechanics that I'm willing to bet you didn't cover in your physics education. This field is a bit of a beast in its own right (one of those that can pretty much get as complicated/mathematically taxing as you let it) and it certainly isn't necessary to become an expert in order to understand quantum mechanics. I'm at a bit of a loss to recommend a good textbook for an introduction to this subject, though. I used Taylor in my first course on the subject, but I don't really like that book. Goldstein is a wonderful book and widely considered to be the bible of classical mechanics, but can be a bit of a struggle.

Also, your math education may stand you in better stead than you think. Quantum mechanics done (IMHO) right is a very algebraic beast with all the nasty integrals saved for the end. You're certainly better off than someone with a background only in calculus. If you know calculus in 3 dimensions along with linear algebra, I'd say find a place to get a feel for Hamiltonian mechanics and dive right in to Griffiths or Shankar. (I've never read Shankar, so I can't speak to its quality directly, but I've heard only good things. Griffiths is quite understandable, though, and not at all terse.) If you find that you want a bit more detail on some of the topics in math that are glossed over in those treatments (like properties of Hilbert Space) I'd recommend asking r/math for a recommendation for a functional analysis textbook. (Warning:functional analysis is a bit of a mindfuck. I'd recommend taking these results on faith unless you're really curious.) You might also look into Eisberg and Resnick if you want a more historical/experimentally motivated treatment.

All in all, I think its doable. It is my firm belief that anyone can understand quantum mechanics (at least to the extent that anyone understands quantum mechanics) provided they put in the effort. It will be a fair amount of effort though. Above all, DO THE PROBLEMS! You can't actually learn physics without applying it. Also, you should be warned that no matter how deep you delve into the subject, there's always farther to go. That's the wonderful thing about physics: you can never know it all. There just comes a point where the questions you ask are current research questions.

Good Luck!

u/fiskiligr · 1 pointr/booklists

Alan Watts is great - but he's no philosopher. He even claims this himself.
He is more aligned with religion than anything else - maybe best described as a spiritualist. He wasn't exactly going about his work with the same rigor, for example, as St. Aquinas and Anselm.

Though Albert Camus claimed not to be a philosopher as well - but that is the funny thing about continental philosophy - half the time you can't distinguish them from plain authors. :-)

As for recommendations - this is really tough.

Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy would be a good one to read - but maybe not for general purposes.
For epistemology, you can't beat Gettier's Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?. It's more like a one page read, however.

Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is great for the section on the problems of induction.

For general purpose though (and I have to give credit to my SO, who has a PhD in philosophy and has taught it for ages), I think Simon Blackburn's Think might be one of the better surveys and general introductions to philosophy.

Hope this helps. :-)

u/The_MPC · 2 pointsr/Physics

That's perfect then, don't let me stop you :). When you're ready for the real stuff, the standard books on quantum mechanics are (in roughly increasing order of sophistication)

  • Griffiths (the standard first course, and maybe the best one)
  • Cohen-Tannoudji (another good one, similar to Griffiths and a bit more thorough)
  • Shankar (sometimes used as a first course, sometimes used as graduate text; unless you are really good at linear algebra, you'd get more out of starting with the first two books instead of Shankar)

    By the time you get to Shankar, you'll also need some classical mechanics. The best text, especially for self-learning, is [Taylor's Classical Mechanics.] (

    Those books will technically have all the math you need to solve the end-of-chapter problems, but a proper source will make your life easier and your understanding better. It's enough to use any one of

  • Paul's Free Online Notes (the stuff after calculus, but without some of the specialized ways physicists use the material)
  • Boas (the standard, focuses on problem-solving recipes)
  • Nearing (very similar to Boas, but free and online!)
  • Little Hassani (Boas done right, with all the recipes plus real explanations of the math behind them; after my math methods class taught from Boas, I immediately sold Boas and bought this with no regrets)

    When you have a good handle on that, and you really want to learn the language used by researchers like Dr. Greene, check out

  • Sakurai (the standard graduate QM book; any of the other three QM texts will prepare you for this one, and this one will prepare you for your PhD qualifying exams)
  • Big Hassani(this isn't just the tools used in theoretical physics, it's the content of mathematical physics. This is one of two math-for-physics books that I keep at my desk when I do my research, and the other is Little Hassani)
  • Peskin and Schroeder (the standard book on quantum field theory, the relativistic quantum theory of particles and fields; either Sakurai or Shankar will prepare you for this)

    Aside from the above, the most relevant free online sources at this level are

  • Khan Academy
  • Leonard Susskind's Modern Physics lectures
  • MIT's Open CourseWare
u/phaseoptics · 1 pointr/askscience

Perhaps a lot will be clearer if you get the quantum nature of the measurement of light's polarization. Classically, light is a transverse electromagnetic wave. When one measures a photon's polarization it assumes a definite value, i.e. some orientation. To say that light is unpolarized means that all electric field directions of every photon in a beam will have equal probability to be measured. If the light is polarized then it can be measured in one of only two states. "Circular polarization" means each possible state is described by a plane waves of equal amplitude but differing in phase by 90°. If the light is "elliptically polarized" then it's unmeasured state is described by two simultaneous plane waves of differing amplitude related in phase by 90°. It can also be called elliptically polarized if the amplitudes of the two states are equal but the relative phase is other than 90°. So an unpolarized beam of photons say, or a single photon with a polarization at some angle relative to your measuring polarizer say, is not split into two when sent through a polarizer, rather each photon takes one path or another according to probability.

Concerning your next group of questions about how light propagates through dielectric solids like glass... There is only free propagation, absorption, and scattering. Scattering can be either elastic or inelastic. Scattering theory is a rich subject because materials are so diverse in composition. The most common form of scattering in isotropic media like the atmosphere and dielectric solids composed of small molecules is an elastic form of scattering called Rayleigh scattering. Rayleigh scattering occurs when a photon penetrates into a medium composed of particles whose sizes are much smaller than the wavelength of the incident photon. In this scattering process, the energy (and therefore the wavelength) of the incident photon is conserved and only its direction is changed. Rayleigh scattering has a simple classical origin: the electrons in the atoms, molecules or small particles radiate like dipole antennas when they are forced to oscillate by an applied electromagnetic field. This is not an absorption and re-emission. If the scattering sources are stationary, then this secondary radiation is phase locked to the driving electromagnetic field. So perhaps this is what you mean by "coherent transmission". But even for a truly coherent source of photons, from a laser say, the coherence length is shorted by the presence of the dielectric.

Lastly, your bonus question... You need to read Richard Feynman's, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Light propagates as a wave, even single photons. It therefore takes all possible paths, not just the path of least time! It's just that only those paths which arrive at the detector in phase will result in a non-zero amplitude. And for a single ray of light passing from one isotropic medium to another of different index of refraction, there is only one path that satisfies that condition, the path of least time. Anyway, you will love the book and will come away understanding light much better.

u/gnomicarchitecture · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I think the best route is to trick her into being interested in books. I think I just might have a trick for that.

Send her the wikipedia article for "trolley problem", and then send her the wiki article on judith thomson's violinist argument in favor of abortion. Then send her a link to parfit's transporter thought experiment. It's ideal if you can find versions of these online which are easy to read and presented in a cool manner. (blog entries are ideal for this. Here's a blog entry on parfit's teletransporter:

Then buy her What If...collected thought experiments in philosophy off amazon or ebay. A used one will be cheap, or take it out from the library and renew it online while she uses it. If she got intrigued by the above thought experiments, and is intrigued by strange paradoxes about truth, like the liar paradox, or leibniz's law, then she will absolutely love this book. It's full of one-page, easily consumable versions of thought experiments, and then the page next to that one contains elaboration on the experiment and current work on it. One of my favorites in there is Max Black's two spheres, which seem to violate leibniz's law. A fun alternative to this, with bite sized philosophy things is "plato and a platypus walk into a bar".

If she continues to show interest in these, you can feed her new information about them via blogs like peasoup and thoughts, arguments, and rants, by googling the name of blogs like these next to a particular paradox or thought experiment, e.g. "thoughts arguments and rants moores paradox". This will lead you to new work by contemporary philosophers on the subjects, which may feed her interest into what it is that philosophers actually do. Eventually this may prompt her to want to read a full book on philosophy, to have a more mature understanding of how these paradoxes and TE's work, then you could get her the very interesting Think by simon blackburn, which is a general intro to philosophy, or the shorter very short introduction books. You can work up to more advanced, interesting work from there (like David Lewis' On the plurality of worlds, which opens the trippy possibility that all possibilities are realities).

Hope she enjoys her reading!

u/bunker_man · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Not that wikipedia is a good source, but it actually explains modern quantum field theory pretty well in the first few sentences. Which is good for context before moving into sep articles. In short, particles aren't tiny balls like people thought 150 years ago. Fundamental particles don't have size at all, but are points. Their only properties are effectively describable as something like data or information. The basic thing in existence is "fields" which are universe wide systems of interaction, and energy is basically just something a field is doing in a specific place. Fundamental particles are just a special excited energy state. Whats more, you can't really think of the information in the place as a distinct "thing" since it only exists in relation as a system.

Of curse the fact that they have no size is no problem for us. Because they can still be distances apart form each-other and relate in ways that add up to structure. And the field and energy is more structure itself rather than a "thing" because its all just a system of relations. Energy is just "capacity to do work." Yet is also the fundamental thing that exists in fields. Which sounds abstract until you begin thinking of it as information or data. And so this "capacity" is an abstraction that can be in a specific place. Since things change based on what is around them (gravity, etc) its even hypothesized that every point in space theoretically has information about everything else in the universe in it.

Physicalism is the generic modern term to replace the term materialism, but the more important term is ontic structural realism. Which is basically the position of taking physics as it is and saying that what it tells us is true. Which at this point means that all that exists is "structure" instead of matter. The term matter is only used now to refer to things that structurally add up to molecules and so then act like what classical matter was thought to. So it is a construct we use to make sense of the world, rather than anything real. Since to the chemist these abstract differences about molecular physics don't matter much to a to of macro scale practice.

Note of course that there's ambiguity here. The only properties fundamental things have are something like data or information. But is this information the same thing as what we normally use the word information to refer to in physics? Is it something else? Are these properties literally nothing but mathematical properties, or are they only isomorphic to them in some way? Is what we see something that exhausts existence, or is it an unfolded version of a more fundamental existence as in the physicist bohm's idea of implicate and explicate order? The truth is that there's more or less an absolute limit on our ability to answer some of these questions with pure science, because past a certain level, we can only get information about things indirectly. We don't even know why chemical structure is able to exist despite violating some of the principles of quantum physics. Since electrons shouldn't really be acting in the ways they seem to in electron bonds, and we can only see what's happening indirectly due to inability to directly see things on that scale. All of reality emerges from things we can only see indirectly, and so there's a limit to what we can say about it. After all, how can you "see" something that has no size?


Also, this is unrelated but there's many metaphysical questions that still exist despite science. Metaphysics isn't an alternate way to find things out from science. Its trying to answer slightly different questions, but with overlap in the middle on ones that both contribute to. For instance, philosophy of identity is something that science can help, but which also needs more work beyond just describing science.

u/thebenson · 3 pointsr/AskPhysics

I think you posted something similar in the math thread right? Introductory physics is really just math and being able to plug into formulas. I'd say it'd be best to get a good math foundation before tackling physics (especially calculus). As far as book recommendations ... I Googled and found a very comprehensive list (

There should be tons of stuff on Khan Academy or on YouTube for particular subjects. Sometimes this may be even more useful than just studying a book as both math and physics books can be dense. I guess I should just list the books I have. Maybe you'll find them useful. I'll list my physics and math books separately.

In general, the Feynmann lectures are considered to be like the physics bible. You can buy a hardcover boxed set of these lectures here: Be forewarned that the lectures were intended for physics students, so it may be best to read a general physics textbook first.

Math (in no particular order):

-Advanced Engineering Mathematics by Greenberg

-Calculus: Early Transcendentals Multivariable by James and Stewart

-Thomas' Calculus Early Transcendentals (Single Variable) by Weir and Hass

-Linear Algebra and its Applications by Lay

-Differential Equations: Computing and Modeling by Edwards and Penney

-Mathematical Proofs: A Transition to Advanced Mathematics by Chartrand, Polimeni and Zhang

-A First Course in Partial Differential Equations with Complex Variables and Transform Methods by Weinberger

Physics (in no particular order):

-Intro to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths

-University Physics by Young and Freedman (prob a good starting place)

-Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler

-Analytical Mechanics by Fowles and Cassiday

-Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick and Walker

-Intro to Electrodynamics by Griffiths

-Heat and Thermodynamics by Zemansky and Dittman

-Statistical and Thermal Physics by Gould and Tobochnik

I hope this was helpful! If not, the physics subreddit has a dedicated thread each week to learning materials and I'm sure someone over there would be glad to help you.

u/[deleted] · 3 pointsr/askscience

Disclaimer: I am an engineer, not a physicist, biologist, etc.

I've always been partial to Feynman's writings when it comes to non-technical discussions of physics. Six Easy Pieces is a great place to start, and if you enjoy it, you can try out Six Not So Easy Pieces. QED is a very accessible book on quantum electrodynamics. Don't let the complex-sounding title fool you--Feynman makes this subject very easy to understand for the layperson.

I really enjoyed reading Relativity for the Million by Martin Gardner, although it's been quite a while since I read it. Gardner is a great author, and this book is perfect for the interested layperson. If you enjoy puzzles, check out his other books. If you want to get a little more technical, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory by Einstein is a good choice.

If you're up for a challenge and willing to commit to a bit of study, I recommend The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose.

As far as magazines go, I've found that Science News keeps me up-to-date on the latest developments in science without getting mired in the details of subjects that I may not be familiar with.

u/rcochrane · 12 pointsr/math

When I've got a clear aim in view for where I want to get to with a self-study project, I tend to work backwards.

Now, I don't know quantum mechanics, but here's how I might approach it if I decided I was going to learn (which, BTW, I'd love to get to one day):

First choose the book you'd like to read. For the sake of argument, say you've picked Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics.

Now have a look at the preface / introduction and see if the author says what they assume of their readers. This often happens in university-level maths books. Griffiths says this:

> The reader must be familiar with the rudiments of linear algebra (as summarized in the Appendix), complex numbers, and calculus up to partial derivatives; some acquaintance with Fourier analysis and the Dirac delta function would help. Elementary classical mechanics is essential, of course, and a little electrodynamics would be useful in places.

So now you have a list of things you need to know. Assuming you don't know any of them, the next step would be to find out what are the standard "first course" textbooks on these subjects: examples might be Poole's Linear Algebra: A Modern Introduction and Stewart's Calculus: Early Transcendentals (though Griffiths tells us we don't need all of it, just "up to partial derivatives"). There are lots of books on classical mechanics; for self-study I would pick a modern textbook with lots of examples, pictures and exercises with solutions.

We also need something on "complex numbers", but Griffiths is a bit vague on what's required; if I didn't know what a complex number is than I'd be inclined to look at some basic material on them in the web rather than diving into a 500-page complex analysis book right away.

There's a lot to work on here, but it fits together into a "programme" that you can probably carry through in about 6 months with a bit of determination, maybe even less. Then take a run at Griffiths and see how tough it is; probably you'll get into difficulties and have to go away and read something else, but probably by this stage you'll be able to figure out what to read for yourself (or come back here and ask!).

With some projects you may have to do "another level" of background reading (e.g., you might need to read a precalculus book if the opening chapters of Stewart were incomprehensible). That's OK, just organise everything in dependency order and you should be fine.

I'll repeat my caveat: I don't know QM, and don't know whether Griffiths is a good book to use. This is just intended as an example of one way of working.

[EDIT: A trap for the unwary: authors don't always mention everything you need to know to read their book. For example, on p.2 Griffiths talks about the Schrodinger wave equation as a probability distribution. If you'd literally never seen continuous probability before, that's where you'd run aground even though he doesn't mention that in the preface.

But like I say, once you've taken care of the definite prerequisites you take a run at it, fall somewhere, pick yourself up and go away to fill in whatever caused a problem. Also, having more than one book on the subject is often valuable, because one author's explanation might be completely baffling to you whereas another puts it a different way that "clicks".]

u/trupwl · 4 pointsr/Physics

(Former) theoretical physicist here, with a few years of college teaching experience.

A lot of the recommendations provided so far by other people here emphasise a mathematical background, which is definitely important and necessary if you're going to pursue physics in the long term. However, when starting, it's easy to get sidetracked by the math and lose sight of your stated goal, thereby getting discouraged.

Therefore, my best advice is to start with a solid conceptual book and build up from there, depending on your interests and knowledge. As for the math, learn as you go until you feel that you want to dive deep into a particular subject in physics, at which point you'll know what math you'll need to learn in depth.

An excellent conceptual start is Hewitt's Conceptual Physics.

Other good starting point books are Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and Six Not-So-Easy Pieces.

Hewitt's book is a more traditional textbook-style text while Feynman's books are more free-style.

From there, the Feynman Lectures in Physics are challenging but extremely rewarding reading.

Once you've gone through those, you'll be in great shape to decide on your own what you want to read/learn next.

Also, as already suggested, online resources such as MIT's Open Course are highly recommended.

Best of luck!

u/QuentinDave · 3 pointsr/Astronomy
  1. I found this article trying to answer the same question. I was looking at the stars the other night, and wondering if I was seeing photons directly from the star, or if I was really seeing photons emitted from the atoms in the air directly above my eyes. Maybe they pass between the atoms in the air, because atoms in gasses are distant compared to massless photons, I thought.

    I have been googling for the past hour and I think they are absorbed, but they are emitted with more-or-less the same wavelength, resulting in more-or-less the same image.

    Photons travel at c between the atoms, but the absorption and emission causes an average slower speed, and thus a bend in its path. From the linked article:

    > By "absorption" I mean that the energy of the photon causes an electron of
    the atom to be kicked to a higher energy level, and the photon ceases to
    exist. Then, after a very small time delay, the electron goes back to its
    original (usually ground state) energy and "emits" a photon of the same
    energy (and thus same frequency and thus same wavelength) as the original
    "absorbed" photon.

    So to answer your question, yes, refraction is absorption->emission. The article in OP sorta glosses over this, ("This is not due to gravity, but refraction as the lens of our air slants its path before its final plummet to the nighttime country-side below.") perhaps to keep the theme of following one photon on its journey. From what I've read online, a good resource for more info on this is QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard Feynman.

    I think my original question is more of philosophical identity (is it really the "same" photon?) than of physics.

  2. The author used "burn" in the less literal definition: use (a type of fuel) as a source of heat or energy.

  3. The video in this article shows what an observer might see while traveling at near the speed of light. So basically, nothing--your whole field of view collapses into a single point. Also, this game made with/by MIT shows how you might experience the world as you artificially lower c. And it's actually pretty fun. This doesn't answer the frozen in time bit, however...

  4. This r/askscience post's answers generally seem to say that no time passes for a photon. However, they also stress that a "photon's reference frame" isn't a valid concept. I wanted to know why and I think the answer is in this wikipedia article about time dilation. It shows the formula for calculating the time elapsed for an observer moving at very high speed relative to a "stationary" observer. Basically, you divide the stationary time by the square root of 1-(velocity^2 / speedoflight^2 ).However if v=c, then v^2 / c^2 = 1, 1-1=0, the square root of 0=0, and you're now dividing by 0... which is probably why it's said that photons have no reference frame.

    Thanks for asking these questions, because I learned a lot in researching the answers lol. All this info made the original article seem even less science-based, but I still think it illustrates the awesome forces at work in this stellar hobby.
u/bkanber · 2 pointsr/askscience

I'm just glad I could help. I would recommend for you the book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, which is a transcription of four lectures by Richard Feynman.

If you don't know who Richard Feynman is, he's one of the people who won a Nobel prize for the formulation of Quantum Electrodynamics (the interaction of photons with charged particles like electrons). But more importantly than that, Feynman was EXCELLENT at talking about science in a manner that laypeople can understand, without actually dumbing down the material. These lectures explain QED in straightforward English. I strongly recommend it, it's definitely worth the $12. Hopefully this book will be a jumping-off point to further learning for you (as it was for me). Enjoy!

u/Morophin3 · 1 pointr/answers

Here are some cool videos for you(not really informative about the makeup of cells but nonetheless might interest you enough to read the amazing books that I've listed below! The microcosmos really is a whole 'nother world!):

Kinesin Walking Narrated Version:

This is a better model. Notice how the 'legs' shake around violently until it snaps into place. Sometimes the random motion of the jiggling atoms(these aren't shown. Imagine the Kinesin molecules shown in a sea of water molecules, all jiggling about ferociously. The 'invisible' water molecules are bumping up against the Kinesin, and it's evolved to work with the random motions) makes it step backwards! But the ATP/ADP process makes it more likely to step forward than backwards(an evolved process). This is explained well in the book Life's Ratchet below.

Molecular Motor Kinesin Walks Like a Drunk Man:

Here are some amazing book to read. Seriously read all of these, preferably in the order listed to get the best understanding. They will blow your mind many times over. Many, if not all, may be at your local library.

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter:

Quarks: The Stuff of Matter

Thermodynamics:A Very Short Introduction

Life's Ratchet:

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

I would also recommend taking a biology and maybe a chemistry class at your local community college, if possible. My biology class started with the smallest stuff, atoms(technically not the smallest, but whatever), and worked its way up through the chain of sizes up to the biosphere. It was very informative and there were a few people in their 40s(a guess) that really enjoyed the class. So you can do it, too!

u/CrimsonCowboy · 1 pointr/scifi

Yes. From "The High Frontier", a book on making space colonies, you could deflect meteors - even nonmetallic - from a colony with an electric field. It required a charge of about two gigavolts to be maintained across the whole of it.

This is costly. And any visiting craft would have to be neutralized relative to whatever charge the colony holds.

Just coating a colony in slag is pretty good; sure, spin up will be harder, but... well, reasons previously listed.

I'm reminded of a conversation a friend had with me; a force field is basically something that would repel an object from contact with the field, right? And you'd need some sort of stabilizing element, right? Something spread across the whole field, probable uniformly?

Something like atoms?

What with the nucleus holding it together and the electrons around it providing the desired electric field?

Yeah. A sheet of strong plastic is essentially a force field.

BUT, that's not nearly as cool.

So you could make an electric field strong enough to repel something moving like a meteor, but... well, here's food for thought. Cathode ray TV's and monitors operate at 35Kv or lower. And they are designed to fail if they over voltage, because they shoot beams of electrons through/at a metal screen, and would deliver X-rays to the viewer if they didn't have such circuits.

Why did you think they were made of lead/strontium glass? Rhetorical question, it's to not irradiate the user.

So, having metal buttons on your person may well enough end up giving you cancer. Not so bad if it's your only choice, or you have a short time to live anyway.

Now, maybe if you could entrap differently charged ions in two fields layered over each other, you'd just need like, a mesh to generate and hold the fields, and then when an object passes through the fields, it'd explosively short it. Sorta like ablative armor but... This may still end badly for the user. Layer it, perhaps?

We do have a very good understanding of electricity on the atomic level; Quantum Electro Dynamics. Feynman wrote a really great introduction to it - he was a great teacher, and was one of the inventors of the theory. It's called "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter".

Gravity is also pretty solid; Laplace fixed our understanding of orbital mechanics in the Napoleonic age. Whooole lot of differential equations there.

u/djimbob · 8 pointsr/askscience

Eh, first you have to read up on quantum mechanics and get a decent understanding of quantum mechanical spin and quantum numbers in general. Something like Shankar - Principles of Quantum Mechanics, though there are tons of textbooks on it. You won't really get into particle physics, but should read at least to the point of understanding addition of angular momentum and spin (typically in context of hydrogen atom).

Then a text on particle physics like Griffiths' Intro To Elementary Particle Physics. (You could also start Griffiths' Intro to QM).

You could also consult free resources like the particle data group, but their reviews will be largely gibberish if you don't understand the basics of QM / particle physics / group theory. (Articles like Quark Model, or Naming Scheme for Hadrons).

If you are looking at hobby-level interest without getting into any math/textbooks, the best I can suggest is Feynman's QED but it won't talk about isospin or hadrons or particle naming conventions but is a great layman introduction to quantum electrodynamics.

u/airshowfan · 2 pointsr/AskEngineers

a. Stanford. But a lot of people who work with me did not go to big-name schools. UC Irvine, Iowa State, Oregon state, etc. Where I work, there's lots of UW. Where I used to work before that; lots of RPI and USC.

b. I got great grades in high school, but slipped a little bit in college. (This made my life difficult later. A good GPA makes it easier to be hired, and is practically necessary if you want a Masters, something that many many many engineers have today). Classes: I'm sure I'm not the first one to tell you this, but take all the math and physics you can. And try to learn some of this stuff outside of school (it can be more fun that way), pick up some books, try to get through the Feynman Lectures on Physics (or just Six Easy Pieces and QED to start off), some Martin Gardner, books like Euler's Gem, learn HTML, try your hand at programming, build LEGO robots... all that kind of stuff will make it easier to learn the stuff you need to learn to become an engineer.

u/professorpan · 8 pointsr/self

I'm always so late to the game.

TL;DR: Seventh Grade science project with basic relativity, caused some fiasco

Around seventh grade I got a hold of Issac Asimov's Understanding Physics. I got really into it especially in relativity. I was a few years ahead in math but nowhere near understanding any calculus or even trigonometry, but I owned algebra and geometry and understood basic physics equations. I started reading Six Easy Pieces, A Brief History of Time, all the books I can find on the topic at the local library. No I wasn't a genius, I was (and still is) just a curious cat. I enjoyed them, though I only understood as much as someone with high school algebra/geometry could. Anywhoo, fast forward to science project -

I decided to do my science project on space-time dilation. It was a subject very few peers knew about at my age but I myself was fascinated by it, so why not!? I mostly covered black holes, light cone, and Lorentz transformation, mostly conceptual discussions. Only the latter two topics contained any math, and that was just the very simple algebraic expressions and some simple geometry. Lacking calculus and a deep understanding, I had very little "Why", and instead had mostly "this is what happens when you do this and here's a drawing and there's an equation". Everything I could understand about relativity without knowing calculus was on that poster.

We got graded before the science fair, and I got a nice fat . I was really surprised and talked to the teacher. She said something along the lines of "This isn't science, you made it up." Apparently she hadn't heard of that stuff. I was surprised and I talked to her and the vice principle about it. He suggested I participate in the fair while they look for someone knowledgeable about this area of science, and my science teacher still didn't believe it had any merit.

A week or so later, the VP got some other teacher's professor friend from the local McMaster University to grade it, and I got called to the VP's office. I got an A! My 12-year-old ego exploded.

EDIT: Come to think of it, that VP really liked me or something. Once a bully was shoving me around and I punched him in the chin and left a nice bruise. I didn't get in any trouble, not even a stern talking-to. We were both brought into his office and the whole time he yelled at the other kid, Trevor. A month or so later we got into another scuffle and Trevor got suspended and again I didn't even get a stern talking-to.

u/songbolt · 1 pointr/GlobalWarming

> Don't get me started on "aluminium".

Interesting! Wikipedia indicates "aluminum" is the original spelling, but "aluminium" became more popular. I suppose Americans should respect the "International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry" and call it 'aluminium', if they want world peace (i.e. international cooperation) ...

> Are you saying it should be 1.0C°?

Yes. Perhaps Daniel Schroeder was trying to be a trendsetter with this instruction. I think the distinction is valuable as it adds clarity and beauty to language. However, perhaps it's pedantic, as I can't think of another example: We don't make a distinction when reporting differences in length, time, pressure, mass, volume, current, or radioactivity ...

u/drewofdoom · 1 pointr/livesound

A few books to consider:


Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed. This one is... well... it helped me to understand some things about physics. Not all of it is relevant, and you'll have to draw some conclusions yourself as to how it all applies to audio engineering. At the very least, it's a great introduction to subatomic physics for people who aren't great with math. YMMV, but I found that a basic understanding of what sound waves actually do goes a LONG way. From there you can discern certain things like how ambient temperature and humidity will affect your mix.

The Business of Audio Engineering. Worth the price of admission, despite grammatical errors.

Mixing Engineer's Handbook. Might be worth it. Interviews with established recording engineers. Has some interesting info. Only the first half of the book is really worth reading, though.

Mixing Audio. Relevant information. Could almost act as a textbook.

That will at least get you started. I know that you're looking more for the mixing side of things, and that's great, but trust me on this. You will want to know as much as you can about all facets of theatrical/concert/special event work. THAT'S how you really get gigs.

u/Kaputaffe · 11 pointsr/askscience

The answer to this is much, much deeper than any of the comments so far. The answer to "How does" is not "4%". The answer is in Quantum Electrodynamics.

I have to run to work, and Richard Feynman is much better at explaining things than me, so I'll point you to his book QED which is dedicated to answering this question as a way to explain QED.

Sorry to have to run because this is fascinating, but to give an accurate answer that really hits on the principles behind it, takes about 20 pages from one of the smartest men who ever lived. I couldn't recommend the book more - it is accessible to anyone of reasonable intelligence willing to read it carefully, and unlocks one of the great mysteries of nature in an entertaining and exciting way.

u/Platypuskeeper · 1 pointr/askscience

> Cultural beliefs do actually influence ways of thought, scientific method included

The scientific method is not a "way of thought". It's a method. You're not providing any evidence to support that claim. The fact that different cultures have different patterns of thought is well-established, the idea that this makes science culturally relative is not. Are you saying logic is culturally dependent as well?

> Westerners tend to rely more on formal logic and insist on correctness of one belief over another when investigating conflicting opinions or theories, while easterners consider all the interacting environmental relationships,

A vague and unsubstantiated orientalist over-generalization if I ever heard one.

> One can even argue the Scientific Method is actually an invention of the western tradition

The automobile is a western invention too, and yet the Japanese understand them just the same way as we do.

>TL;DR: read something like The Geography of Thought for intriguing trends in how your Asian lab partner interprets data differently from you.

I've never run across a case where he did. Read a good book on philosophy of science to understand why natural science strives to eliminate bias, including cultural bias. It's not contingent on it but the exact opposite.

>Difference being Goswami was a quantum physics professor

There's no such thing as a 'quantum physics professor' or really a 'quantum physicist'. All physicists study quantum mechanics and nearly all use it, to different extents. Goswami's actual expertise is apparently nuclear physics, which does not imply any greater understanding of the foundations of quantum mechanics than that of most physicists.

> who wrote respected college textbooks

As far as I can tell, he's written one textbook on introductory quantum mechanics. I've never heard of him or his textbook before, and I see little reason to believe it's 'well-respected' or popular, as it only has 5 amazon reviews, as compared to 70 for Griffiths, an actual well-regarded textbook. Sakurai's "Modern QM" and Shankar's "Principles of QM" are popular and well-respected as well. Griffith's is also known for the consistent-histories interpretation of quantum mechanics, while the latter two are 'Easterners', yet don't subscribe to any of this kind of nonsense.

> My background is not in quantum physics, but sooner or later you guys will have to (you should?) reconcile your understanding of reality with how different cultural traditions interpret reality.

You haven't shown any depth of knowledge about 'cultural traditions'. You've made gross generalizations and outright false statements about these things. Calling Western philosophy 'materialist' while 'eastern' is supposedly uniformly 'idealist' (both terms are from Western philosophy) is flat-out wrong.

> Furthermore, the jump is discontinuous in that the electron is never in any orbit not defined by one of the probability clouds.

That's saying that mixed states and quantum superpositions do not exist. It's wrong, and introductory level understanding of formal quantum mechanics is enough to know it.

>Can you please point me to a more accurate description?

Show that the eigenfunctions of the electronic Hamiltonian are no longer eigenfunctions under the action of a perturbing external electromagnetic field.

> What is the interesting part of the delayed-choice experiment then if it's not that what we observe depends on how we measure it?

Did you make any effort at all to find out on your own, such as reading the wikipedia article? I don't see why I should spend time explaining it otherwise. The fact that "what we observe depends on how we measure it" is already evident in the double-slit experiment.

> the most interesting scientific discoveries come when interpretations of science and philosophy butt up against each other.

No, they don't. The most interesting scientific discoveries come when a well-established theory is proven wrong. Metaphysics has nothing to do with science. The Bell test is not philosophy, it's science. It's an empirical test of an empirically-testable thing.

> it appears that a non-local signal (that is, a deliberate faster-than-light transmission) is impossible

It's not the Bell test that says that, it's special relativity.

> Help me understand reality as you interpret it.

Now why the heck would I spend any time on doing that? There's a huge number of good, factual popular-scientific books on quantum mechanics and modern physics. There are plenty of good textbooks. There are good books on science and philosophy of science as well. But instead you waste your time on reading Goswami's nonsense, which would clearly be out of the mainstream to anyone who'd bothered to do a modicum of web searching beforehand. Then you defend it all, basically by stating that you know better than an actual scientist how science works.

You haven't shown that you've made even the slightest bit of a good-faith effort to understand either science, the scientific method and mindset, or established quantum physics. To me it appears that you came here seeking confirmation of what you'd already decided you wanted to believe.

Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil Tyson, Stephen Weinberg and Murray Gell-Mann, among others, have all written good popular-scientific books on modern physics. Just about all of them say something about quantum mechanics and the more popular interpretations of it. And for a more in-depth study of the philosophy of science surrounding quantum mechanics, read e.g. Omnes' "Quantum philosophy".

u/bosonsforlife · 3 pointsr/Physics

The first thing that popped in my mind while reading your post was: 'woah dude, slow down a bit!'. No, honestly, take things slowly, that's the best advice someone could have given me a few years ago. Physics is a field of study where you need a lot of time to really understand the subjects. Often times, when revisiting my graduate and even my undergraduate quantum mechanics courses, I catch myself realizing that I just began understanding yet another part of the subject. Physics is a field, where you have many things that simply need time to wrap your head around. I am kind of troubled that a lot of students simply learn their stuff for the exam at the end of the semester and then think they can put that subject aside completely. That's not how understanding in physics works - you need to revisit your stuff from time to time in order to really wrap your head around the fundamental concepts. Being able to solve some problems in a textbook is good, but not sufficient IMHO.

That being said, I will try to answer your question. Quantum mechanics is extremely fascinating. It is also extremely weird at first, but you'll get used to it. Don't confuse getting used to it with really understanding and grasping the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. Those are two very different animals. Also, quantum mechanics needs a lot of math, simply have a look at the references of the quantum mechanics wikipedia page and open one of those references to convince yourself that this is the case.

Now, I don't know what your knowledge is in mathematics, hence all I can give you is some general advice. In most physics programs, you will have introductory courses in linear algebra, analysis and calculus. My first three semesters looked like this in terms of the math courses:

  1. Sets and functions; mathematical induction; groups, fields and vector spaces; real and complex numbers, series and sequences, power series; matrices, linear systems of equations; determinants and eigenvalue problems

  2. More on linear systems of equations, eigenvectors, eigenvalues and determinants; canonical forms; self-adjoint matrices and unitary matrices; some analysis (topological basics, continuity)

  3. More on topology; hilbert spaces; differentiation and integration

    These were, very roughly, the subjects we covered. I think that should give you some basic idea where to start. Usually quantum mechanics isn't discussed until the second year of undergrad, such that the students have the necessary mathematic tools to grasp it.

    A book I haven't worked with but know that some students really like is Mathematics for Physics by Paul Goldbart. This essentially gives you a full introduction to most of the subjects you'll need. Maybe that's a good point to start?

    Concerning introductory texts for quantum mechanics, I can recommend the Feynman lectures and the book by David Griffiths. I know a ton of students who have used the book by Griffiths for their introductory course. It isn't nearly as rigorous as the traditional works (e.g. Dirac), but it's great for an introduction to the concepts and mathematics of quantum mechanics. The Feynman lectures are just classic - it's absolutely worth reading all three volumes, even more than once!

    EDIT: added some literature, words.
u/agate_ · 3 pointsr/askscience

I think the best answer is: since photons don't come with nametags, there's no way to tell, but in most cases, the light behaves as if it's the same photon. There are however some properties of light (diffraction, for instance) where thinking of each point in space as a source of new photons is useful.

For extra credit: the same is true of matter.

Not 100% related, but for more on this sort of thing check out Richard Feynman's short book "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter". It's intended for ordinary laypeople, which says a lot about Feynman's confidence in laypeople, but it's great for the dedicated reader.

u/snipatomic · 1 pointr/AskScienceDiscussion

The Feynman lectures are really good, and they will take you from basic physics to quantum mechanics.

Get yourself a good groundwork in physics before you worry about flashy things like relativity. The ability to spout out fancy words about fancy-sounding fields really means nothing if you don't actually understand what you are talking about.

Now, this said, once you are ready to dive into quantum mechanics, I'd personally recommend Griffiths.

As a chemical engineer specialized in electron microscopy, I am partial to solid-state physics and physics at the atomic scale, so if you are interested in such small things, I would recommend Callister as an introductory book (it is basically the bible of materials science, and is an excellent beginner book and reference) and Kasap as a very readable book on solid-state physics.

With any such books, unless you are using the book for a class and it is required that you have a particular version, don't worry about getting the newest edition. An older edition will generally save you a lot of money if you purchase a hard copy. That said, it is easy enough to find most of them digitally if you are so inclined.

u/Cletus_awreetus · 2 pointsr/astrophys

Square one...

You should have a solid base in math:

Introduction to Calculus and Analysis, Vol. 1 by Courant and John. Gotta have some basic knowledge of calculus.

Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by Mary Boas. This is pretty high-level applied math, but it's the kind of stuff you deal with in serious physics/astrophysics.

You should have a solid base in physics:

They Feynman Lectures on Physics. Might be worth checking out. I think they're available free online.

You should have a solid base in astronomy/astrophysics:

The Physical Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy by Frank Shu. A bit outdated but a good textbook.

An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Carroll and Ostlie.

Astrophysics: A Very Short Introduction by James Binney. I haven't read this and there are no reviews, I think it was very recently published, but it looks promising.

It also might be worth checking out something like Coursera. They have free classes on math, physics, astrophysics, etc.

u/Alloran · 1 pointr/exjw

I do highly recommend Genome by Matt Ridley and A History of God by Karen Armstrong. It looks like Before the Big Bang might be a great idea too.

However, I'm noticing a bit of redundancy in your stacks and don't want you to get bored! In the presence of the other books, I would recommend Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale in lieu of The Greatest Show on Earth. (Although, if you're actually not going to read all the other books, I would actually go the other way.) Similarly, I would probably choose either to read the God Delusion or a few of the other books there.

Other recommendations: how about The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, and The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes? These occupy niches not covered by the others.

The popular expositions on cosmology all look supremely awesome, but you should probably choose half of them. Another idea: read just The Fabric of the Cosmos by Greene, and if you love it, go ahead and learn mechanics, vector calculus, Electrodynamics, linear algebra, and Quantum Mechanics! Hmm...on second thought, that might actually take longer than just reading those books :)

u/thetourist74 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Well, if you want a concentrated course of study you might consider looking for secondary sources that focus on particular areas of research in philosophy rather than trying to read very few (5-10) authors in real depth. I see Kant has been suggested, for example, and while I would never doubt his importance as a philosopher, if you set out with the intention of reading the bulk of his works as you say you might you would have to tackle a great deal of dry, technical material which I think would prove to be a lot more work than you could expect. Same could be said for Aristotle, Plato, Hegel, Descartes, nearly anyone you really might care to list. I don't know if you've read much philosophy, but you might instead look at something like an introduction to philosophy, an intro to ethics, or an intro to the philosophy of mind. These are only some examples, there are books like this for pretty much any area of study that attracts your interest. I'm sure others could provide suggestions as well.

u/Epicureanist · 1 pointr/GetMotivated

> There are about 3 things i'd love to do related to science, but everyone requires you to have a PhD or AP classes in all 3 sciences.

Autodidactism. All that is really needed to learn is paper, pencil, and a library membership. If you're really interested in science, head to your local library and study individually.

After a few months of doing that, and learning/studying not for grades or due to pressures of parents/teachers you'll really begin to enjoy it. When you do keep it up, and after that if you enjoy it continue to do so. Eventually when you do sign up for classes you'll breeze through them.

Asimov puts it rather nicely best 4:17

> if books weren't so expensive here, or i found good books on them

Bullshit. All you have to do is look. Libraries give away books all the time; even a short search "used books in Canada," provides a lot of results. You could even buy a kindle $75 and pirate books.

Especially when it comes to philosophy and science books. Many of them are dirt cheap for the valuable information they contain. New books and textbooks are expensive, crappy, and very rarely rival the classics, especially those written by masters of the field.

Seriously, fucking look at this

I got an almost new book that covers physics wonderfully for $1.60

awaiting more excuses...

u/KerSan · 8 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

Start here.

Then go here.

When you're ready for the real thing, start reading this.

If you want to become an expert, go here.

Edit: Between steps 2 and 3, get a physics degree. You need to understand basically all of physics before you can understand anything properly in General Relativity. Sorry...

Edit 2: If you really want a full list of topics to understand before tackling general relativity, the bare minimum is special relativity (the easier bit) and tensor calculus on pseudo-Riemannian manifolds (extremely difficult). I'd strongly advise a deep understanding of differential equations in general, and continuum mechanics in particular. Some knowledge of statistical mechanics and the covariant formulation of electromagnetism would be pretty helpful too. It is also essential to realize that general relativity is still poorly understood by professionals, and almost certainly breaks down at large energy densities. I strongly advise just taking a look at the first two links I posted, since that will give you an excellent and non-dumbed-down flavour of general relativity.

u/JimmyBob15 · 2 pointsr/askscience

Looking on their website it seems as if they do not let outside people borrow from their library, sorry :(.

I know many libraries have "partnerships" for the lack of a better word, where if you try to borrow a book from the library, and they don't have it, they will request it from somewhere else they are partnered with and get it for you.

Some ideas of books:

For my undergraduate astrophysics class I used - Foundations of Astrophysics by Ryden and Peterson, ISBN13: 978-0-321-59558-4

I have also used (more advanced, graduate level) - An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Carroll and Ostlie, ISBN13: 978-0-805-30402-2

There are plenty of other undergraduate text books for astrophysics, but those are the only two I have experience with.

Some other books that may be just fun reads and aren't text books:

A Brief History of Time - Hawking

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter - Feynman

Random popular science books:

Parallel Worlds - Kaku (or anything else by him Michio Kaku)

Cosmos - Sagan

Dark Cosmos - Hooper

or anything by Green, Krauss, Tyson, etc.

Videos to watch:

I would also suggest, if you have an hour to burn, watching this video by Lawrence Krauss. I watched it early on in my physics career and loved it, check it out:

Lawrence Krauss - A Universe From Nothing

Also this video is some what related:

Sean Carroll - Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time

Hope you enjoy!

Edit: Formatting.

u/kinematografi · 1 pointr/AskReddit

This is a good start

and so is this!

This is, possibly surprisingly, good too.

If you're looking to jump right into a text and think you have a grip on the language, try Foucault's Madness and Civilization It's great and pretty easy to read.

Another good introduction (or at least, MY introduction to philosophy is Slavoj Zizek. He's pretty easy to read and understand, but makes ties to Lacan, Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc in a cohesive manner that makes you want to learn more. Of his work, I'd check out The Sublime Object of Ideology, The Parallax View or watch his movie! (Which is extraordinarily entertaining for how dense it is. He's also kind of amazing in a philosophical rock star kind of way.)

Hope that gets you started!

u/technically_art · 1 pointr/askscience

> do you mean that they are man-made tools to help picture and calculate and predict?


> once we figured out that light is the oscillation of the EM field, that proved to us that fields are actually a real physical... thing.

That's definitely not the case (the second part.) In fact the experiments of Michelson and Morley are usually cited as definitive proof that it's not a real, physical thing.

> If you don't feel confident answering, are there any books you would refer me to?

Check out Feynman's books "6 Not-So-Easy Pieces" and "QED". QED is the one more relevant to this discussion. I would also recommend Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality if you have a lot of spare time and are willing to keep up with it properly.

Are you taking an intro to physics course as an undergraduate? If so, and if you are interested enough to take more coursework on physics, try taking an EMags (Electromagnetic Fields) class in the EE or physics department. 20th century physics (relativity) and a couple of QM (Quantum Mechanics) classes would be helpful as well. After you take a couple of EM and QM courses, you'll really appreciate how god damn hard it is to have any sort of "intuition" about physics, and how important it is to just treat the math like math.

u/professorboat · 7 pointsr/askphilosophy

I think Oxford's Very Short Introduction series is a pretty good place to start as far as books go. You can pick a part of philosophy you are interested in and find the introduction to that, or just read the general Philosophy intro. My personal favourite is the VSI to Philosophy of Science by Samir Okasha.

Another good introductory book is Think by Simon Blackburn.

I have found these good introductions, they are written by experts, and directed to the general reader, but without dumbing it down.

As far as the classics of philosophy go, someone else suggested Plato's dialogues and I would add Descartes' Meditations to that. It is short and a pretty good example of how modern philosophy operates. In it Descartes tries to find out what we can know for sure. It is reasonably easy to read too.

Of course, books can be quite expensive (if you torrent you can usually find downloads of many VSIs, and Meditations is out of copyright), and you shouldn't feel you have to have read any of these if you can find cheap copies.

u/tikael · 1 pointr/AskPhysics

You always move through time at the same rate, 1 second per second. What changes in special relativity is that we stop being able to agree on time measurements with other observers who are moving with respect to us. You can't just slap time on as an extra axis like you would with Z when moving from 2D to 3D. The very rules of geometry change when you switch from space and time to spacetime, and they do so in such a way that even though different people disagree on the amount of time that passed and the distance between things they can always agree on special quantities that are 'invariant' and we can use those invariant measurements to bridge the measurements of two observers.

In 2D when you want to know the distance between two points you can find the x position and the y position of each point and use basic trigonometry to find the distance. a^2 + b^2 = c^2 . Let's say you want to know all the points exactly one unit away from the point (0,0), you just set c = 1 and find values of a and b that still fulfill that relation. You will find that neither a nor b can be greater than 1 or less than -1 by itself, or the point will not be 1 unit away. This is relatively easy because we can freely add together the values of a and b. But what if we measured a in meters and b in miles and we didn't know how to convert those units? We could never do this basic geometric exercise, we could still refer to a given point but we could not find all the combinations where c = 1.

That is the basic problem with just tacking time on as another axis. Time is measured in seconds, and that as a unit is not compatible with meters. So we need a conversion factor in order to measure time in units of meters, it turns out the speed of light is exactly that conversion factor we need and that has some fun consequences that I don't have the time to go into. If you are interested in special relativity I highly recommend finding a copy of Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler, if you followed my argument above and have some very basic physics you should have relatively no problem with the first few chapters which should help you understand relativity much better.

u/Prayden · 7 pointsr/chemistry

Anything by Feynmann are great reads. For upper division instrumental analysis, spectroscopy, and quantum I wholly recommend QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman et al. It describes all the concepts in the book in layman's terms in a brilliant narrative of chemistry. I recommend it to anyone that wants to learn about the strangeness of physics and chemistry. It is easy to digest.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics, although pricey helped me survive physics (I have the paperbacks). It seems you can read the entirety online at that site.

If you choose to do a lot of organic chemistry laboratory work then Advanced Practical Organic Chemistry is a really great resource. It covers just about everything you need to know to be very competent and safe in the lab. I found a used copy of the second edition that has served me well. I don't know what has been updated in the third edition.

I agree with /u/lmo2th Pauling has written albeit old but definitive books on chemistry. Although it can be very difficult to read and knowledge of differential equations is required, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics with Applications to Chemistry by Linus Pauling et al. was the most succinct book on the nitty gritty math of QM I found.

I recently graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry, it was difficult, but I loved every minute I spent in the lab doing research and can't imagine doing anything else. Edit: QED and Feynmann Lectures are great reads for lower division classes. Save the second two for if you decide on chemistry.

u/LFZUAB · 1 pointr/Physics

The latter is at as well. Good idea with some of the simpler and less creative gymnastics.

As far as philosophy's concerned, these two in particular are a bit classic. The less time is spent on dealing with and accepting experiments, the further into lala land of maths you go. None of these newer theories actually offer an answer and are creative proposals that all fall short of a physical description and process. QED by Feynman is entertaining and funny, and you won't find better explanations that doesn't discuss some mathematical idea, which means we've left the realm of philosophy and physics in a classical sense. Because saying the "maths works", so let's justify it with something that sound plausible is really starting to get old.


So this is perhaps "basic" and what you were asking for. But it may offer a grounding before exploring all the terms and ideas that can be referenced when calculating and wanting to make a prediction. Or a phenomenological argument that has little to do with experiments and well off into the fringes of physics regions. Phenomenology is not philosophy in this sense, it's an subjective argument based on own work and experience and is largely subjective and hinges on whatever idea it revolves around.

In HEP, predictions come after preliminary data, where application of theories and calculations are the "phenomena" and the experimental results with high statistical significance is the "horse". So to compete here you need a rumour mill and access to let's say 2-4 sigma results. Experiments are cool, hoping for something truly revealing, theory dealing with results and what it means gets boring with these speculations. Good luck finding an article that argues a problem.

u/ajslater · 3 pointsr/askscience

Indeed yes, there isn't so much absorbtion and reemission of quanta as i understand it as does the substance act like a matrix or diffraction grating. Then within the substance you have lots of little broken up waves all interacting with each other, canceling each other out in parts and bolstering each other in others. The 'super wave' made up of all these interactions propagates at slower than light speed, and potentially at an angle. Come out the other side (into a vaccum again) and there's no diffraction, no 'super wave' but back to light propagating at 'light speed again'.

There's probably a good quantum analogy too, but I don't recall it.

The thing to always remember is that these forces aren't quantum particles or idealized waves, those are just the best models we have for something we don't fully understand.

Read Feynman's QED, its short, written for the layman and completely awesome. It will also blow your freaking mind.

u/shavera · 2 pointsr/askscience

I'm going to be a little over-focused on textbooks, but I think the best treatments of these topics begin to move out of the "popular science" book territory.

For regular gravity, if you have decent linear algebra (matrix math), vector calculus skills (divergence, gradient, curl and the like), and preferably some familiarity with Lagrangian mechanics then I'd recommend Hartle's Gravity. I think that's pretty much the minimum set of prerequisites to be able to do General Relativity and see gravity come from that.

It doesn't hurt that the same math is pretty much what you need for basic quantum mechanics; but you need a much longer sequence to get to quantum field theory, the point where you can start doing the necessary particle physics of the problem.

u/slomotion · 1 pointr/books

If you don't know much about physics I would recommend The Dancing Wu-Li Masters by Gary Zukov. That's one of the main books that got me interested in the field. Clearly written enough for a 9th grader to understand. Also, It explores some philosophical parallels to physics which I enjoyed quite a bit (don't worry, it's nothing like What the Bleep)

Also, if you'd like some insight on how a genius thinks, I would recommend Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman? It's one of my favorite books of all time. There's actually no science in this book - it's basically a collection of anecdotes from Richard Feynmann's life. He talks about his experiences in college, grad school, and working on the A-bomb in Los Alamos among other things. Incredibly entertaining stuff.

u/phymert · 2 pointsr/gaybros

The first one can be learned from Griffiths' text, but it's definitely an 3rd/4th year physics textbook. If you have a strong background in math, though, much of the physics can probably be gleaned quickly enough from online introductory material.

As for the second, I've been told that Emmy Noether's Wonderful Theorem is a great read, but I haven't taken the time to check it out yet.

u/erdaron · 3 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths is indeed an excellent textbook, and a standard in many undergrad courses. I would also recommend brushing up on vector calculus and linear algebra before diving into QM.

Honestly, Wikipedia articles often do a good job of explaining the fundamentals in a clear, accessible way. And its scientific accuracy is quite good.

There are also free courses online, such as through Coursera and MIT's OpenCourseWare.

u/ianmgull · 1 pointr/PhilosophyofScience

A summary?

Gravity is what we call the fact that massive objects (and energy, by extension) tend to follow geodesics in curved spacetime.

From a GR perspective, it's not a "thing" in the same way as electromagnitism, or the strong force, or the weak force. It's simply the tendency for massive objects to move in a straight line.

This is an analogy. It's designed to give intuition, but it's not at all rigorous. Again, if you want the rock solid explanation, you have to deal with differential geometry and tensor calculus and those field equations linked above.

It's not a perfect analogy. You would (rightfully) ask: "what about things that aren't already moving? why would something like gravity 'pulling' on them cause them to move, that's not them continuing to move in a straight line.", and you'd be right. But that's because the best I can do with out getting absurdly mathy is give you a mediocre analogy. If you want to know the real deal, you have to crack a book.

Also: I "referenced" that book because it's one of a few introductory General Relativity books that people who are in grad school for physics use. That means most professors who are actively involved in research use it. So your claim that "no one of any authority" would use it is absurd.

Here it is incase you're being sincere, something tells me you're not though:,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=detail

u/Shitgenstein · 2 pointsr/IAmA

Well, the truth of the matter is the question of the limitations of human reason to grasp knowledge of what is real is a very old one going back as far as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in 1781 and has gone through a lot of radical development since then. In NDT's defense, this is a hard question of contemporary philosophers working in epistemology today, let alone an astrophysicist working on other matters.

In my opinion, I think Tyson comes from a generation of scientists who have, for understandable reasons, become exhausted with talk of the philosophical foundations of science. About a century ago, which is not long ago as for philosophical progress, the dominant view in what would come to be called philosophy of science was to rid science of any sort of metaphysical propositions. By metaphysical propositions, I don't mean the kind of pop-metaphysics of energy crystals and auras but claims about reality itself, such as "everything which exists reduces to particles," which they believed weren't wrong, just lacking any cognitive meaning.

When this view, called logical positivism, failed to achieve its goals for various reasons as well as a number of crippling critiques from the following generation of philosophers, I'd surmise that this generation of scientists, beginning in the 1960's, had become exhausted with all the philosophy talk and settled for some kind of "shut up and do science" mentality with elements of positivism, Karl Popper's falsification, and such like we find in Richard Feynman. This is the generation I think Tyson sympathizes with.

That said, I'm hopeful that the latest generation of scientists are more open to philosophical investigation of the epistemological and metaphysical commitments or foundations of science. A great book to pick up toward this end, though of course difficult philosophy, is Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized.

(note that these are broad strokes and speculation of a philosophy graduate which may not be 100% historically accurate but I figured interesting enough to share)

u/2_7182818 · 5 pointsr/PhysicsStudents

The analogous book for me was Townsend's Quantum Physics: A Fundamental Approach to Modern Physics. It spends a good deal of time on introducing you to quantum mechanics, as it should, but there are also discussions of solid state, nuclear, and particle physics, in addition to relativity.

Honestly, if you are looking for an in-depth treatment of special relativity it might be worth finding a book on that specifically, because it's generally not treated in a lot of depth in classes, since such depth isn't needed (it's relatively simple, if potentially unintuitive at first). Chapter 15 of Taylor, for example, has a good treatment of special relativity, and it's regarded as one of the canonical texts for classical mechanics (edit: at the introductory/intermediate level, that is).

u/guenoc · 1 pointr/Physics

Sweet. I think the best curriculum to approach this with, assuming you're in this for the long haul, would be to start with building a good understanding of calculus, cover basic classical mechanics, then cover electricity and magnetism, and finally quantum mechanics. I'm going to leave math and mechanics mostly for someone else, because no textbooks come to mind at the moment. I'll leave you with three books though:

For Math, unless someone else comes up with something better, the bible is Stewart's Calculus

The other two are by the same author:

Griffith's Introduction to Electrodynamics

Griffith's Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

I think these are entirely reasonable to read cover to cover, work through problems in, and come out with somewhere near an undergraduate level understanding. Be careful not to rush things. One of the biggest barriers I've run into trying to learn physics independently is to try and approach subjects I don't have the background for yet: it can be a massive waste of time. If you really want to learn physics in its true mathematical form, read the books chapter by chapter, make sure you understand things before moving on, and do problems from the books. I'd recommend buying a copy of the solutions manuals for these books as well. It can also be helpful to look up the website for various courses from any university and reference their problem sets/solutions.

Good luck!

u/nodayzero · 3 pointsr/AskPhysics

I got the new millennium edition. While I was researching which one to get , a lot of people mentioned that millenium edition was glossy and had smaller print which made it harder to read. I must say it looks fine. I don't have any problems so far. The reason i picked the latest is because it was relatively cheaper (140ish vs 300+) and had over 900 erratas fixed with respect to older editions.

Bonus: Another book I started reading in tandem is Road to Reality by Penrose which is equivalent in excitement, inspiration and quality of material and gives a nice overview of math required for physics and relation between math and physics. Highly recommend.

u/Rapturehelmet · 2 pointsr/AskPhysics

All the video sources I'm finding seem... spotty, but Richard Feynman's lectures on physics are the best in my opinion. He starts out with the basic foundations modern physics and progresses into much more difficult territory. They're well written, and definitely a good read for anyone who wants a basic understanding of physics.

I have these copies of his lectures which I like because they split up the easy and the hard topics in to separate books. But this is just personal opinion, and there are many, many copies of his works out there.

u/derezzed19 · 8 pointsr/askscience

Yep, many physicists subscribe to the "shut-up-and-calculate" school of thought.

OP - although physics can't really address some of your specific questions, the mathematical link between the quantum and classical regimes is quite clear: if one considers the limit of a quantum system with a very large number of particles (e.g., every single atom in a rock), then the properties of the set of particles will be more clustered around their average values. These average values (expectation values) exactly match the classical predictions for that set of particles.

There's a great chapter that goes through all the math pretty clearly in R. Shankar's Principles of Quantum Mechanics.

u/nobodyspecial · 1 pointr/books

QED - Richard Feynman QED is a small book that's an excellent introduction into Quantum Mechanics by one of the pre-eminent physicists of the 20th century. If you want to understand the double slit experiment, this is the book to read.

Time, Love, Memory - Jonathan Weiner A biography of Seymour Benzer, a physicist turned biologist whose lab demonstrated the existence of some fundamental genes. One of the more interesting series of experiments demonstrated how the brains of homosexual fruit flies were wired differently than heterosexual fruit flies.

I second scottkarr's "Misquoting Jesus." recommondation. It's a very interesting read on how the bible morphed over time. Read it after reading Time, Love, Memory and the analogies Benzer uses to describe gene mutation will really resonate.

u/cowboysauce · 2 pointsr/askscience

Do you want a formal understanding? If so, then there's a problem. The 4 fundamental interactions are not completely understood. The electromagnetic is very well understood and is covered by quantum electrodynamics. The weak interaction is also understood quite well and has been unified with the EM interaction into the electroweak interaction.

The strong interaction and gravity are not as well understood. There is no widely accepted theory of quantum gravity (gravity is currently described by general relativity). The strong force is described using quantum chromodynamics (QCD), however QCD is vey complicated (due to the fact that gluons carry color charge and interact with each other).

If you fine with that, then I have to ask, are you comfortable with classical physics? If not then start there. If you are, then you can continue on with quantum physics, this book is a very good quantum mechanics book.

If you want a lay person understanding, then I suggest you do some searches here on askscience, because there is a wealth of information regarding particle physics here.

One more thing, very few people call it "quantum physics", it almost always goes by the name "quantum mechanics".

u/palish · 2 pointsr/pics

I think any ELI5 will be oversimplified. You'll come away feeling like you've gained an insight, but the explanation won't match what nature really does.

If you want an understanding of how nature behaves, then you'll need to spend time reading a book called QED. It's actually very readable, even for dummies like me who have no math or physics training whatsoever.

There's a quote floating around that goes like, "According to Feynman, to learn QED you have two choices: you can go through seven years of physics education or read this book". And it's quite true.

You can find the book here or you can watch the videos here.

EDIT: For the truly curious, you can read part of the book here.

u/ngroot · 2 pointsr/AskReddit

> Can you, or anyone else, link to some information that accurately defines quantum mechanics?

There's always the relevant Wikipedia article; Griffiths' book on introductory QM is also very clear.

If you want a brief, fairly non-technical summary, though, it's what I said before: in QM, the state of an object is contained in a wavefunction. That function evolves over time (following the Schrödinger equation). For a given wavefunction, you can find the probability of measuring a classical property (e.g,. position, momentum, energy) as having a particular value or falling within a range of values by applying an appropriate operator.

The uncertainty principle follows from this. A wave function which will result in most measurements of position being in a tight clump (i.e., an object with a well-defined position) will result in measurements of momentum that will vary widely, and vice-versa.

The usual analogy (which is actually very close to the mathematics in QM) that I've encountered is a rope under tension. If you give it a sharp jerk and induce a single peak that travels down the wave, the question "where is the wave" makes sense, but "what's its frequency" does not. The converse is true if you induce a standing wave: you can talk easily about the frequency, but the wave is everywhere along the rope.

> What I always end up with is this idea of perception=reality. That since we cannot measure where the electron is, it simply isn't. I don't buy this for a second.

Close, but let's be more precise: it's not that the electron doesn't exist, it's that classic properties that we think of as fundamental (position, momentum, etc.) aren't. In QM, a particle always has a wavefunction; that wavefunction determines the distribution of values you'll get if you try to measure a classical property. This means that generally you can't say that a particle "has" a particular position/momentum/whatever; you can only talk about the probabilities of finding it with such-and-such a position or momentum.

If you don't like the fact that this implies that classical properties are fundamentally random, you're in good company; that's what prompted Einstein's "God does not play dice" quip. Unfortunately, Bell's theorem and subsequent tests and confirmations of it essentially eliminate the possibility of local "hidden variables" which contain the "real" position/momentum/whatever of a particle. This leaves us stuck between accepting a stochastic universe and non-local interactions (which thanks to relativity, introduce causal paradoxes.)

u/Fuzzy_Thoughts · 2 pointsr/mormon

It's truly a whole new world to explore. I read the book Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn last year as a starting point. Great stuff. I'd recommend it if you'd like to dip your toes into philosophy a bit more. It's pretty cheap on used book sites as well.

u/_uncarlo · 2 pointsr/meirl

This book got me into it, I read it more than 10 years ago, but it's still relevant (it's not like quantum physics has changed a lot). It explains everything very well and it has a lot of illustration. Super easy, fun, didactic read.

u/Cpt_Burrito · 2 pointsr/astrophysics

We're not even sure the constants are constant. It's entirely possible they do change in some complicated relationship on levels too large, too small, too fast or too slow for us to notice 'easily'. I know that dodges your question, but it's one hell of a question and answering it directly would be a marked step forward in our understanding of the universe.

Like chip said, the math is just a 'best fit' solution to the events we observe. If you've got the free time you could crack open this book and try moving things around and see what your new maths describe.

I hadn't even passed algebra when I graduated high school though so if you're in the same boat I was in then this book (specifically the later chapters) might give you a better perspective.

u/Weed_O_Whirler · 9 pointsr/Physics

First, the study of QM is really going to hinge on you grasping the fundamentals of linear algebra. Knowing calculus and differential equations would be very helpful, but without linear algebra, nothing will make sense. Particularly, you need to understand eigenvectors and eigenvalues as the Schrodinger Equation is an equation of that type. Here is a link to the MIT OpenCourseWare Linear Algebra Class complete with video lectures, etc. Completion of this class shouldn't require much more than a 16 year old's math understanding.

From there, if you are actually serious about pursuing this, get this book by David Griffiths, which is an into to QM that doesn't require too much calculus and it really good at explaining the concepts. With that book in hand, and actually trying to work through some of the problems, find another MIT OpenCourseWare class on the topic.

Secondly, please, please, please don't whine about downvotes. Every submission that gets popular at all gets some downvotes. Why? Who knows why, but it really isn't worth complaining about, and you will find there is a large portion of people who will downvote you simply because you complain about it.

u/catsails · 1 pointr/AskReddit

You're welcome!

To be honest, I went out of my way to take courses in Tensor Analysis and Differential Geometry before I started learning GR, and I can't say it was that useful. It didn't hurt, but if your interest is just in learning GR, then most introductory GR textbooks teach you what you need to know. I'd recommend Schutz as a good book with tons of exercises, or Carroll ,partly because his discussion of differential geometry is more modern than that of Schutz.

u/dnew · 3 pointsr/scifi

Personally, I love learning about quantum mechanics and relativity.

Stuff like this: if you want to watch cool animated explanations of advanced science.

* Almost forgot Fermilab:

Stuff like this if you want to read laymen textbooks to wrap your head around QM and relativity: (Altho get the paper versions, because they have diagrams and illustrations and stuff illegible on the ebooks):

All of those are mind-bogglingly cool, as well as being actual real science!

u/dzizy · 1 pointr/occult

Not occult in the 'requires the proper colored robe' sense, more in the 'nobody fucking knows this shit' sense.

I don't know a single thing about you, who you are, what you are looking for, why you are interested, or why you care.

This just happens to be a great excuse to let people know about a couple books I care about.

A book is 'occult' by virtue of it containing information about which most people haven't a clue.

"Occult" anything need no special handshake.

u/fermion72 · 1 pointr/Physics

My favorite introduction to physics is Asimov's Understanding Physics. It does get somewhat advanced, but Asimov is such a great writer (IMHO) and it will give you a survey of the field like none other that I think you'll enjoy it.

u/mhornberger · 2 pointsr/DebateReligion

I'm not big on monism, but I think it's interesting that modern inflationary cosmology is philosophically compatible with substance monism. You could see everything, all matter and energy, as a manifestation of or interaction between the underlying energy of the quantum vacuum.

I'm not reaching for some Dancing Wu Li Masters synthesis, or preaching woo, but for those who do want to find some link between philosophy and science, I think the philosophical ramifications of inflationary cosmology, and stochastic processes like evolution, deserve more attention than they get.

u/Nexusty · 8 pointsr/PhysicsStudents

A great introductory read would be "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths"

Great Author and great textbook. Pretty much most intro QM courses use this text.

Amazon Link

u/redsledletters · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Confrontational atheism: Testament: Memoir of the Thoughts and Sentiments of Jean Meslier

>"Know, then, my friends, that everything that is recited and practiced in the world for the cult and adoration of gods is nothing but errors, abuses, illusions, and impostures. All the laws and orders that are issued in the name and authority of God or the gods are really only human inventions…."

>"And what I say here in general about the vanity and falsity of the religions of the world, I don’t say only about the foreign and pagan religions, which you already regard as false, but I say it as well about your Christian religion because, as a matter of fact, it is no less vain or less false than any other.

Softer (much less confrontational) atheism: 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

>This unique approach to skepticism presents fifty commonly heard reasons people often give for believing in a God and then raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that there is much room for doubt. Whether you're a believer, a complete skeptic, or somewhere in between, you'll find this review of traditional and more recent arguments for the existence of God refreshing, approachable, and enlightening.

Favorites non-fiction (or at least mostly non-fiction as time will tell) and not directly related to atheism: Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension and The Illustrated A Brief History of Time and the Universe in a Nutshell

Favorites fiction (also not directly atheist related): Treasure Island, and Hogfather: A Novel of Discworld

Atheism book I've tried to read and found to be over my head that's supposed to be the end-all-be-all: The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God


Currently reading and while enjoyable it's a bit tough to get, I've found myself re-reading pages regularly: QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

u/scienceisfun · 1 pointr/askscience

Wow, thanks for the Reddit gold, that's awesome! It's been my pleasure to have the discussion with you. As for a good textbook, I have a few suggestions. For a pretty good broad look at optics from both classical and quantum points of view, give Saleh and Teich a look. For purely quantum stuff, my undergrad textbook was by Griffiths, which I enjoyed quite a bit, though I recall the math being a bit daunting when I took the course. Another book I've read that I liked quite a bit was by Shankar. I felt it was a bit more accessible. Finally, if you want quantum mechanics from the source, Dirac is a bit of a standard. It's elegant, but can be a bit tough.

u/dolphinrisky · 1 pointr/trees

I meant his quantum book. There are a lot of varying opinions on Griffiths, but personally I enjoy his more informal writing style. It's nice when studying quantum because the physics can get a bit abstract and intangible, and Griffiths does a good job of giving you plain-English explanations of what is happening.

u/zack1123581321 · 2 pointsr/PhysicsGRE

I am using Conquering the Physics GRE as an overview, but I really enjoy anything from David Morin and David J. Griffiths for the level of questions and explanations (and in-book/online solutions manuals that go a long way towards showing you how to think like a physicist). But my "library" for preparing for the physics GRE is:

CM: Morin, Problems and Solutions in Introductory Mechanics and Introduction to Classical Mechanics

Gregory, Classical Mechanics for extra explanations and problems

EM: Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics 3e

QM: Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics 3e

Thermo/Stat.Mech: Schroeder, An Introduction to Thermal Physics

Kittel and Kroemer, Thermal Physics

Waves: Morin, on his website are ten chapters to what appears to be a Waves book in the making

Atomic, Lab Methods: Conquering the Physics GRE and any online resources I can find.


If you email Case Western, they send a link to some amazing flash cards!

u/kendawg_69 · 4 pointsr/Physics

It was my favorite book in undergrad and from what I remember it's really well written. I recall that if I was confused about a topic in lecture I could go to the relevant chapter and end up with a clear understanding.

Admittedly it's been a while since I last read it but hopefully there may be some more helpful reviews here


u/Tobiasuru · 8 pointsr/AskPhysics

An Introduction to Thermal Physics

This is the standard undergraduate text. It's the one I used. Super easy to read and the problems are fun. Best of luck!

u/HungLikeSaddam69 · 7 pointsr/AskMen

Barton Zwiebach's First Course in String Theory provides a good overview of quite a complex topic. Unfortunately, even though it is meant as an introductory textbook, it is likely to be entirely incomprehensible to the average reader.


To make it through this book, knowledge of quite a few preliminary topics is needed:

  1. Previous knowledge of Quantum Mechanics is incredibly important. MIT OpenCourseware has some useful video lectures for the beginner, as well as textbook recommendations.

  2. It is necessary to be fully comfortable with the principles of Special Relativity, as well as at least familiar with the mathematics of General Relativity. Unfortunately, since I learned relativity entirely from the homemade class notes of a professor at my university, I have no textbook recommendations.

  3. Even though string theory is a theory of quantum gravity, some techniques and principles from classical physics are useful. In particular, ideas from the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics come up fairly often. John Taylor's book is useful here. Knowledge of Electricity and Magnetism is also useful; for that, I recommend Griffiths.

  4. It doesn't come up quite as often in this particular book, but Group Theory and Lie Algebras are ubiquitous in string theory. I liked Gilmore's book on this subject.
u/Ebanflo · 1 pointr/QuantumWorld

That's pretty funny. You'll notice that I never made a claim about whether or not the matter exists in a non-vaporized state, I said it can't be observed in such a state. Here's Leonard Susskind giving a rough explanation of why. And what's observable (or what can be used to predict the outcome of observations) is the only relevant thing in a scientific discussion.

By the way, I did a bit of research and superpositioned states have actually been observed for atoms and photons, which was the original premise of the discussion. And honestly that's a pretty ridiculous premise, because regardless of whether or not these states are observable, manipulating them is the basis of quantum computation. And quantum computers work. They work very well.

Some advice: pick up an elementary quantum mechanics textbook before your next discussion about the topic (I would recommend Griffiths), and try your best to refrain from acting like a pretentious douchebag instead of providing arguments in debates.

u/Phaen_ · 1 pointr/Physics

I have no experience with Young's books, but if you want to look into alternatives a very popular text book for physics is Physics for Scientists & Engineers by Giancoli, perfect for introductionary courses into classical mechanics. For a more advanced text book about classical mechanics you might want to look into Classical Mechanics by John R. Taylor.

u/TomatoAintAFruit · 1 pointr/Physics

For an undergraduate approach I recommend Schroeder. However, this book starts with thermal physics which is, well, a bit boring ;). The math is not hard, but developing that 'physics instinct' can sometimes be challenging.

For a more advanced, but very nice and systematic text, I recommend Toda, Kubo, et al.. Another graduate text is Huang.

There are also the books by Feynman and Landau and Lifshitz Pt. 1 (Pt. 2 is quantum field theory, which at this stage you probably will want to avoid).

u/JoJosh-The-Barbarian · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

Ahh... I like you!

Great question!

The answer to this is actually extremely complicated. In fact, energy conservation is actually not true in general relativity. If you are interested in reading about this, check out Sean Carroll's blog entry on the topic. He's a well known cosmologist at Caltech who wrote a textbook on general relativity.

u/ZBoson · 2 pointsr/askscience

You need to know dynamics in Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms. Get more solid on waves, and electromagnetism. Then you need to do quantum mechanics up through and including scattering, perturbation theory, and Fermi's golden rule (Shankar is a fantastic quantum text that will get you there in modern notation as well as introduce you to Feynman path integrals). Then you can start tackling quantum field theory. Sredniki's book is free online, but it's presentation is very nonstandard. It will, however, take you all the way to and past the standard model, which is nice. Lahiri and Pal is nice but short (with all the problems associated with that), Zee is good, and Peskin is more or less standard. Any of them will take you up through electroweak symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism.

And of course all the math along the way. Differential equations (ordinary and partial) and complex analysis need to be hit hard.

u/Dre_J · 3 pointsr/IBO

I know the university I'm headed to is using University Physics. I have a PDF of it, if you want it. It basically covers all the fundamental physics using calculus, so I would definitely regard it as a post-IB book.

I've heard many say that Resnick and Halliday's books are the best out there. They are perhaps a bit old, but seem to be the favorite among undergraduates.

If you want a more intuitive understanding of physics, then The Feynman Lectures are a must. He covers some material that requires knowledge of undergraduate level physics, but a lot of it I've found to still be enlightening. The intuition you'll get is invaluable.

u/saints400 · 2 pointsr/Physics

Im currently in a mechanics physics course and this is the main text book we use

I'd say it's pretty good and an easy read as well

We have also been using a math text book to complement some of the material

Hope this helps

u/Orion952 · 1 pointr/math


Pretty introductory, not a ton of math but enough to satisfy most undergrads. Includes a section on introductory Tensor Calculus.


Probably the best intermediate book, does GR at an intermediate level. Includes several chapters on the math needed.


Covers GR at a fairly advanced level. More rigorous books exist, but are not appropriate for a first course.

u/wyzaard · 4 pointsr/IWantToLearn

That you start and that you continue is more import than where you start.

For math, a good book to start with is Understanding Engineering Mathematics by John bird. It's available for free download on It has tons and tons of fully worked examples and covers just about everything from 1+1 to Fourier Series.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics are highly praised, but I've not read them.

I also highly recommend you get familiar with the history of any subject you wish to study. Here are just two examples of histories of math and physics.

u/hamfast42 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Not philosophy in any kind of traditional sense, but your description reminds me of this book on quantum physics .
Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed

It has gorgeous pictures and pretty short sections that are decently easy to digest.

u/C_M_Burns · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I know I'm tardy to the party, but I found that it's best to start with general surveys of philosophy, so you're exposed to a wide range of thought, then narrowing down your interests.

Personally, I found the following to be the most helpful:

From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest


What Does It All Mean?

The Problems of Philosophy

u/Ak-01 · 10 pointsr/askscience

I don't want to be rude but before diving into special or general relativity and astronomy you should probably start from very beginning. I suggest you to get more familiar with the definition of mass, force, motion and energy, Newton's laws and laws of conservation. Don't just try to memorize formulas, try to understand meaning behind them.

This is one of the best books to start in my oppinion

u/xtracto · 2 pointsr/IAmA

Well, I am not Dr. Kaku but I know a really good book called Understanding Physics by the late Isaac Asimov. If you like Asimov's non-fiction writing style (which I like a lot) then it may be for you.

u/Earthtone_Coalition · 1 pointr/AskReddit

1984. I can't remember how old I was, but I must have been a young teenager. I'd say of any book I've read, it's the one that comes to mind most often.

Also Think by Simon Blackburn. A basic introduction to western philosophy, it really sparked my interest at a young age and formed the basis for a love of philosophy, metaphysics, and just taking the time to deeply examine concepts and ideas.

u/David9090 · 1 pointr/quantum

For a good popular overview that has a strong historical focus, this is great: Quantum

Personally, and I think most philosophers of quantum physics, think Krauss is a bit of a hack when it comes to exploring the conceptual and foundational elements of quantum physics. See this: Krauss review

Albert actually has a really good introduction book to quantum mechanics that focuses on the more conceptual side of things, aimed at those with little background in physics: Quantum Mechanics and Experience

u/lettuce_field_theory · 1 pointr/AskPhysics

>and the uncertainty principal imposes limits on what we can know through measurement.

Not what we can know, but that a particle's state at any time isn't given by a precise position and momentum (state of a classical particle). This sort of information doesn't exist. Instead the state of the particle is a wave function. The wave function gives probabilities to measure the particle to be in a certain position or alternatively to have a certain momentum. The probabilities for the two quantities are dependent on each other (via fourier transform). The uncertainty principle just says that any wave function can't both be precisely localised in momentum and position space. The best you can do is a bell shaped (gaussian) distribution in both position and momentum that have some nonzero width.

After measurement of position the particle is then in an eigenstate of definite position. That kind of state gives a uniform probability distribution for the momentum measurement (ie all momenta are equally likely, momentum can be anything if you measure that afterwards).

>In doing so, we are assuming space is a continuous object, there are particles in space that occupy a single point, and once measured, a particle has a well defined location even if we cannot entirely know that location.

In that instance we have just measured it so we do know it.

>If we still assume space is continuous but particles had some size and shape which is able to move in a non-uniform manner (different parts moving in different speeds or directions)

We can detect internal structure of particles in experiments. This is how we know the from is fundamental and the proton isn't. There's no evidence otherwise (though having an internal structure doesn't change much for the proton, it's also a quantum object) and there is no incentive of getting rid of what you call "weirdness", on the contrary, quantum theory gives the most accurate predictions we've ever had.

Describing the state of a particle by a wave function psi(t) instead of a pair of values (x(t), p(t)) is a more accurate description.

Your suggestion is literally choosing something that disagrees with experiments over something that agrees with them.

>our inability to measure its position could be related to how we try and collapse this into a single positional value. Or, what if particles are just bigger than what we would expect and in doing a measurement, we are only seeing a given piece a particle?

I agree with /u/cantgetno197 (who isn't a troll, he just told you something that's accurate but you didn't want to hear). I think your view might have to do with not knowing quantum theory very well yet. In that case I would be trying to learn about it (textbooks), not trying to get rid of it.

Yes books do teach you. They teach you intuition too, contrary to what you say (again you haven't read any quantum theory books but have already an opinion). How is anyone supposed to take someone saying he is learning seriously if he is dismissive of reading educational material?

>Besides, those who don't ask questions generally don't understand as well as they think, or they are unimaginative...

Those who don't read books are worse off, they don't ask very useful questions to begin with and don't make progress.

u/therealprotonk · 1 pointr/bestof

Special relativity, yes. You can get the basics of the Lorentz transformation with some effort. Isaac Asimov's Understanding Physics even contains a good derivation.

General relativity...on the other hand. That's considerably more difficult. Einstein extended Maxwell's field theories--theories which Maxwell himself didn't fully understand and Maxwell was one of the most impressive physicists who ever lived. So it's a rough trip.

u/Quarkity · 1 pointr/books

Was referring to this book and this one specifically. They are lectures by Feynman, yes. I'm assuming that they are pieces taken from that huge collection, but I'm not 100% sure of that. He was a wonderful teacher though, and if you have any interest in the subject, you should check it out.

u/Dank_Hamiltonian · 2 pointsr/AskPhysics

First and foremost, you're going to need to get very comfortable with special relativity and quantum mechanics. QFT is heavily rooted in both subjects since it's essentially a way of reconciling the two, so you're going to need to get familiar with the formalism. For quantum mechanics, I recommend starting off with Griffiths if you haven't taken a class on the subject at an undergraduate level. It's pretty much the gold standard in undergraduate physics curricula. But that alone is not enough to fulfill the necessary background in quantum. After that you'll want to go through a graduate text such as Sakurai. You need to get very familiar with the Dirac formalism since it plays a large role in formulating quantum fields.

Special relativity isn't usually offered as a course on its own in most universities (as far as I know). Typically, it's part of a course on classical dynamics or electrodynamics. You could look for the relevant chapters in textbooks on those two subjects (such as Griffiths electrodynamics) or just go with the introduction that pretty much every QFT textbook has at the beginning. The main thing here is that you'll have to get used to working with tensors since they show up in Lagrangian densities, which are principal objects of study in QFT. This is also where classical field theory comes in, as classical fields are also described by Lagrangians.

Those are the main areas of physics that you need to know coming into the subject. As others have mentioned, you'll want to understand Hamiltonian and Lagrangian mechanics as well as classical E&M since a lot of the formalism involved in QFT stems from those subjects. Most people are introduced to quantum through the Hamiltonian formalism, and while you can do calculations in quantum without understanding where the formalism comes from in classical mechanics, you might be confused as to why the calculations work the way they do. You can also do calculations with a Lagrangian in QFT without really understanding what actually is, but again, if you truly want to understand the material it won't get you quite far enough. It is a graduate subject, after all. So you'll probably struggle to understand the material without having a solid undergraduate background in physics, but it's not impossible. It's also the kind of subject that requires multiple attempts to understand it. I took one semester of it as an undergraduate and there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge at the time, so I found it quite difficult. Then I took another class on it again after going through first year graduate courses in classical mechanics, quantum, and electrodynamics, and I had a better feel for the subject.

u/dargscisyhp · 2 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

For Statistical physics I would second the recommendation of Pathria. Huang is also good.

For electromagnetism the standard is Jackson. I think it is pedagogically terrible, but I was able to slowly make my way through it. I don't know of a better alternative, and once you get the hang of it the book is a great reference. The problems in this book border from insane to impossible.

So that's the basics. It's up to you where to go from there. If you do decide to learn QFT or GR, my recommendations are Itzykson and Carroll respectively.

Good luck to you!

u/mrcmnstr · 2 pointsr/Physics

I thought of some books suggestions. If you're going all in, go to the library and find a book on vector calculus. You're going to need it if you don't already know spherical coordinates, divergence, gradient, and curl. Try this one if your library has it. Lots of good books on this though. Just look for vector calculus.

Griffiths has a good intro to E&M. I'm sure you can find an old copy on a bookshelf. Doesn't need to be the new one.

Shankar has a quantum book written for an upper level undergrad. The first chapter does an excellent job explaining the basic math behind quantum mechanics .

u/SegaTape · 4 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

David Griffiths' textbooks on E&M and quantum mechanics were easily the best textbooks I had as an undergrad. Clear, concise, refreshingly informal, and even a dash of humor.

u/HungOnGravity · 3 pointsr/PhysicsStudents

Take Physics Thermodynamics, it'll open your eyes. We use Schroeder 20 miles north of you. I had a Nuclear Energy Conversion course that was essentially our Thermo from our department and finally had the chance to see all of the theoretical physics applied to real world (well, 1970s reactors ;D) applications.

I'm up at SPSU finishing a Physics BS and just completed our Nuclear Engineering minor. I liked the similarities in curriculum because I had seen it before, but there were some ME/EE majors that weren't too thrilled with Physics Thermodynamics showing up in a Nuclear course.

Is your advanced lab course Modern, Electronics, or Adv Measurements?

By classical physics do you mean something similar to Intermediate Mechanics?

You should be able to relate Optics to Nuclear pretty well comparing it to what you've studied with neutrons passing through matter and moderators.

Sorry about the wall of text, I don't get to talk about both subjects much in either department.

u/DeeperThanNight · 2 pointsr/askscience

As with most things you gotta know the basics. Start with classical mechanics. The best book is Landau's Mechanics, but it's quite advanced. The undergraduate text I used at university was Thornton and Marion. If that's still too much I've heard Taylor's book is even gentler.

Also, make sure you know your calculus.

u/leoboiko · 3 pointsr/science

> If you want to involve photons in this picture, you can, but it won't help you very much.

I beg to differ. I only really understood what “electricity” is, including said guitar-amp phenomenon, when I got photons in the picture , thus creating a very different model than the one presented by most textbooks on transistor electronics. The stuff that moves at the speed of light when you turn a switch on? Photons. The stuff that actually transfers electromagnetic energy, including wire “electricity”, from a battery/source to charge? Photons. Stuff that binds electrons to protons? Photons. Stuff that get stored in capacitors? Photons. Hell the photon↔electron interaction goes well beyond “light” or “electricity” and do most things in the universe! (except gravity and nuclear phenomena). I don’t feel qualified to explain it all in quantum terms but I got the better picture from Richard Feynman’s QED, which I heartily recommend to any curious layman. (Also, this page).

u/Telephone_Hooker · 1 pointr/AskPhysics

This is probably the best book for your situation. It was written to help philosophy grads turn into philosophers of physics. It does the mathematical basics you need to understand QM, but its different from a QM textbook in that instead of going on to look at applications like the simple harmonic oscillator or the hydrogen atom it goes on to look at conceptual issues. It won't give you the grounding you need to actually do physics, but it will let you think about it properly.

u/Lanza21 · 1 pointr/bestof

Fortunately, special relativity isn't that mathematically intensive. If you took college algebra and trigonometry, it will be familiar to you. If you took calculus, it will be mathematically easy. Although the concepts are certainly difficult.

This book presents it at a very simple level.

This book and this book present some very interesting physics at a layman level. I'd suggest it to anybody curious about topics such as relativity.

u/krypton86 · 2 pointsr/IWantToLearn

This is the standard QM text for a large sector of undergraduates. It's what I used and it's very good as an introductory text. I can highly recommend it. Another excellent text is Shankar's book. Some prefer it as it's perhaps more in depth and comprehensive. It's been a while since I've read any QM books, but the last one I read that I quite liked was Bohm's Quntum Theory, though it's dense and a little out of date.

u/CapBateman · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

If you want a more general introduction into philosophy there's a Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn and the older What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy by Thomas Nagel. A more academic introduction (the last two books are more aimed at a general audience) is Fundamentals of Philosophy edited by John Shand. If you're willing to sit through it there also Russel's classic A History of Western Philosophy, which is a sort of introduction to philosophy through the history of the field (the audiobook is on youtube btw), and there also his Problems of Philosophy

I'm not that familiar with eastern philosophy, but a classic introduction to Existentialism is Walter Kaufmann's Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre and it should go nicely with Existentialism is a Humanism.

Hope this helps :)

u/Dimpl3s · 1 pointr/askscience

Recommended reading on the subject. Here's my explanation, though this is outside my expertises, and a physics major should offer a more comprehensive answer. But here we go.

When a photon strikes an atom, it causes an electron to jump to its next energy level. The photon is absorbed in the process, and its energy is conserved by an increase in the electron energy level. The atom won't like the configuration, so the electron will soon drop back down to the lower energy level, releasing a photon. This is called reflection.

Now, when you get enough atoms lined up in the right orientation, the image will be conserved. The book I provided offers an awesome explanation of the phenomena. Simply, the light can be considered to be reflected off the front surface and back surface. You know how light is sometimes thought of a wave? It is useful to think of it in this way for this explanation. The reflections from the back and front surface will interfere (two waves taking up the same space). If a peak meets with a valley, the two cancel. If a peak meets with another peak, it will interfere 'constructively', and the light will be preserved.

Now, if the surface is nice and smooth, a clear reflection will be seen as a result of this interaction between the two lights. reflections off glass windows works in this manner. When you are in a bright room at night, the light reflecting off from the room is brighter than the light coming in from outside. This is why you have a hard time seeing through your windows at night, and it helps to shield the glass from the light with your hands. BUT I DIGRESS

Now, you are correct in thinking that the absorption/emission event sends the photon in a random direction. But the waves associated with these random reflections cancel each other out in most cases. The only photon that survives the mass extinction are the ones that reflected with an angle of reflection equal to the angle of incidence.

But really, read the book I linked. It explains this all much better than I can.

u/ebneter · 2 pointsr/scifi

Any decent introduction to special relativity should cover it. I don't know how technical you are, though. If you're mathematically inclined, Taylor and Wheeler's Spacetime Physics is an awesome book. A lot cheaper and pretty accessible would be Relativity: A Very Short Introduction

u/Araraguy · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Assuming the first:

For an introduction, Shankar's Fundamentals of Physics is good, but it doesn't have workable examples and it covers a large range of literature in a short period. I'd recommend it if you just want an understanding of the maths, and not a fluency in doing it. University Physics is commonly used for classical mechanics. Moving on:

Light and Optics

Griffith's Quantum Mechanics

Schroeder's Thermal Physics


Those are just a few introductory books; not mentioned were statistical mechanics, solid state physics, nuclear, plasma, special and general relativity, quantum field theory, etc. These aren't all needed for an introductory study, though. This is what one would need if one hoped to understand the contemporary problems in the philosophy of physics. As I mentioned below, you need at least single and multivariable calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra; these can be developed as one goes.

u/Kaliss_Darktide · 2 pointsr/atheism

What's your previous science background? Most of this stuff is built upon layers of knowledge like knowing calculus requires an understanding of algebra which requires an understanding of multiplication which requires an understanding of addition.

For example Hubble's observation of a red shift everywhere in the universe is based on an understanding of the doppler effect which requires an understanding of light as a wave. You don't need to know anything about light or doppler to understand what his observation means, it's the first major clue we had about the big bang theory. However without this knowledge it can seem to someone unfamiliar that it's all "based on faith" when in fact it is based on evidence.

>Does one need to know physics to understand astrophysics or cosmology? Or would one be better served learning astronomy? Or Both?

In a very broad sense astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology are all the same thing. Unfortunately astrology became associated with predicting the future based on your birth date when it's literal translation should mean science of the stars like geology means science of the earth and biology means science of life. So scientists had to look for another name so as not to be associated with the psuedo-science that is astrology today.

Are you familiar with the crash course series on youtube? They have series on both physics and astronomy I would recommend.

Astronomy episode 1

If you are really new to science I'd recommend the newer cosmos series with Neil Degrasse Tyson as a good starting point.

edit if you want a substantial read

I read this a while ago it's very good but not an "easy" read.

u/hungryascetic · 0 pointsr/askphilosophy

You're right, I'm not a physicist, but I'm well educated in physics. On the other hand, it seems that you didn't read my post, and that you are not well acquainted with either the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics, nor with the rich literature in philosophy of science with respect to the MWI and it's implications. I suggest you take a look at David Albert's Quantum Mechanics and Experience, David Wallace's The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory according to the Everett Interpretation and the anthology Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, & Reality.

u/Ninja_of_Physics · 2 pointsr/math

I'm assuming this is an undergrad QM class so what you have will be more than enough. If you're in the states odds are the book they will be using is Giffiths Amazon link, PDF of the first edition. If you can Taylor expand and find eigenstates you'll be fine.

First semester undergrad quantum is mostly focused on learning how to solve the Schrodinger equation for a variety of Potentials. Expect it to be like first semester calculus, you gloss over the deeper mathematical rigor, and focus on being able to take limits and derivatives. First semester quantum is the same, learn how to solve the Schrodinger equation, and learn what physical meaning you can get from it.

u/1337Lulz · 2 pointsr/books

If you want to start to learn how to actually do physics and not just novelty facts, [This may be the best introduction on physics you will find.] (
It covers all the basic topics from gravitation, optics, relativity, electromagnetism to particle physics. What they are and how they work and how they came to be known. It goes real light on the math and is very easy to grasp. You can buy a used copy dirt cheap on Amazon. I highly recommend it.

u/CurvatureTensor · 3 pointsr/Physics

Math, math and more math. If you don't feel comfortable with differential equations, or if you're like I was after freshman year you don't know what a differential equation really is, then that's where you should start. Quantum Mechanics basically starts with an awesome differential equation and then goes from there.

Learning the math of this level of Physics on your own would be challenging to say the least, but if you want to dive in I'd suggest Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by Boas. Pairing that with Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths might be fun.

Nuclear theory goes into statistical mechanics, classical mechanics is multivariable calc/linear algebra, quantum field theory combines those two with differential equations and sprinkles in a bunch of "whoa that's weird" just to keep you on your toes. But it's really important that you know the math (or more likely you fake your way through the math enough to gain some insight to the Physics).

u/Astrokiwi · 2 pointsr/space

I recommend this book:

We covered it as part of a 3rd year physics course. It's actually very accessible, and prefers to provide good explanations (and help you to learn how to resolve apparent paradoxes) instead of lots of mathematical exercises.

u/mccoyn · 2 pointsr/science

These reality branches can add together, or even cancel out. This effects the probability of certain events occurring, which can be tested by repeating experiments.

I would try to explain it further, but I am sure I'll mess it up. I recommend QED, which is surprisingly easy to read.

u/susySquark · 2 pointsr/IWantToLearn

This is THE book for that

Multivar calculus understanding more or less necessary, and familiarity with classical mechanics is pretty handy for tackling QM. Linear algebra is absolutely critical to understand everything well, mathematically speaking.

I personally liked Griffiths' book. The concepts are explained well and the examples are cleanly worked out. It's a decently accessible book and an easy read, which is always a plus.

u/GuitarGreg · 2 pointsr/electricians

Get this book, I think you would enjoy it and it would probably answer most (if not all) of your questions.

At a certain point you have to just accept that electricity behaves the way it does, just because it does. A lot of the way we talk about electricity is convention, or it makes general assumptions about the way electricity behaves that in most cases are well-founded, so you can get away with them. If you really start to dig, stuff can get weird.

If you want a glimpse of how strange reality can get, read this. It is not directly about electrons but it talks about light so there are some similarities. Plus Feynman is a great author.

u/fantasticmrbond · 1 pointr/Physics

My introduction to both General and Special Relativity was from John Taylor's Classical Mechanics, in free pdf form or in a dead trees format. The General Relativity section is lumped toward the end of the 'Special Relativity' chapter. It would be a great place to start.

u/iamhove · 5 pointsr/science

His primary point is sound. The light speed limit isn't a limit in the frame of the traveler.
The Taylor and Wheeler classic: is relevant here.
You can get around where you will in as short a time as you like given the ability to scoot. I recall programming a solver for this just outta high school and being astounded that most places in the universe are reachable even at a modest 1g. But you'd need mountains of fuel to with ungodly conversion ratios and nevermind the shielding to make it. ... And then, if you went too far, in what kind of place would you be arriving? It looks like a big crunch is out, so you just might run yourself early into a big rip?

u/mebbee · 3 pointsr/trees

That's the beauty of Buddhism. In an interview with Carl Sagan, the Dalai Lama said that if something in Buddhist beliefs did not align with scientific understanding, then it would make sense to discard that belief.

I believe that Buddhists have taken inner exploration into the realm of mental science. Their meditation techniques have a linear path that one can follow if they want to achieve an experience like OP talks about.

Anyway, I'll stop going on about it, because this is a wonderful topic and I don't want to write an essay at the moment. All I meant to say is that if one is interested in learning about the intersection between science and spirituality that I recommend this book:
The Dancing Wu-li Masters

u/nikofeyn · 1 pointr/Physics

i recommend the following books by shankar (who is also the author of a well known quantum mechanics book). the books are accompanied by the open yale courses on physics.

u/Bulldog65 · 1 pointr/Physics

Have you read the dancing wu li masters ? Its an oldie, but a fun and easy read.

u/perpwy · 2 pointsr/science

If you like Feynman, you might try the Feynman Lectures on Physics, which is a 3-book set covering everything from mechanics to QM to E&M to fluid dynamics. It definitely has that Feynman charm to it. It won't give you the math overview, though, but you're probably better off just picking that up as you go if you've already had calc. If you go much further you'll eventually want linear algebra, though.

u/Lemonkopf · 1 pointr/Physics

Unfortunately, a good understanding of quantum mechanics requires a basic understanding of classical physics.

I would recommend "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukov. "6 Easy Pieces" by Richard P. Feineman My personal favorite is "Understanding Physics" by Isaac Asimov HTH