Reddit reviews: The best physics of light books

We found 6 Reddit comments discussing the best physics of light books. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 4 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

Top Reddit comments about Physics of Light:

u/dargscisyhp · 7 pointsr/AskScienceDiscussion

I'd like to give you my two cents as well on how to proceed here. If nothing else, this will be a second opinion. If I could redo my physics education, this is how I'd want it done.

If you are truly wanting to learn these fields in depth I cannot stress how important it is to actually work problems out of these books, not just read them. There is a certain understanding that comes from struggling with problems that you just can't get by reading the material. On that note, I would recommend getting the Schaum's outline to whatever subject you are studying if you can find one. They are great books with hundreds of solved problems and sample problems for you to try with the answers in the back. When you get to the point you can't find Schaums anymore, I would recommend getting as many solutions manuals as possible. The problems will get very tough, and it's nice to verify that you did the problem correctly or are on the right track, or even just look over solutions to problems you decide not to try.


I second Stewart's Calculus cover to cover (except the final chapter on differential equations) and Halliday, Resnick and Walker's Fundamentals of Physics. Not all sections from HRW are necessary, but be sure you have the fundamentals of mechanics, electromagnetism, optics, and thermal physics down at the level of HRW.

Once you're done with this move on to studying differential equations. Many physics theorems are stated in terms of differential equations so really getting the hang of these is key to moving on. Differential equations are often taught as two separate classes, one covering ordinary differential equations and one covering partial differential equations. In my opinion, a good introductory textbook to ODEs is one by Morris Tenenbaum and Harry Pollard. That said, there is another book by V. I. Arnold that I would recommend you get as well. The Arnold book may be a bit more mathematical than you are looking for, but it was written as an introductory text to ODEs and you will have a deeper understanding of ODEs after reading it than your typical introductory textbook. This deeper understanding will be useful if you delve into the nitty-gritty parts of classical mechanics. For partial differential equations I recommend the book by Haberman. It will give you a good understanding of different methods you can use to solve PDEs, and is very much geared towards problem-solving.

From there, I would get a decent book on Linear Algebra. I used the one by Leon. I can't guarantee that it's the best book out there, but I think it will get the job done.

This should cover most of the mathematical training you need to move onto the intermediate level physics textbooks. There will be some things that are missing, but those are usually covered explicitly in the intermediate texts that use them (i.e. the Delta function). Still, if you're looking for a good mathematical reference, my recommendation is Lua. It may be a good idea to go over some basic complex analysis from this book, though it is not necessary to move on.


At this stage you need to do intermediate level classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermal physics at the very least. For electromagnetism, Griffiths hands down. In my opinion, the best pedagogical book for intermediate classical mechanics is Fowles and Cassidy. Once you've read these two books you will have a much deeper understanding of the stuff you learned in HRW. When you're going through the mechanics book pay particular attention to generalized coordinates and Lagrangians. Those become pretty central later on. There is also a very old book by Robert Becker that I think is great. It's problems are tough, and it goes into concepts that aren't typically covered much in depth in other intermediate mechanics books such as statics. I don't think you'll find a torrent for this, but it is 5 bucks on Amazon. That said, I don't think Becker is necessary. For quantum, I cannot recommend Zettili highly enough. Get this book. Tons of worked out examples. In my opinion, Zettili is the best quantum book out there at this level. Finally for thermal physics I would use Mandl. This book is merely sufficient, but I don't know of a book that I liked better.

This is the bare minimum. However, if you find a particular subject interesting, delve into it at this point. If you want to learn Solid State physics there's Kittel. Want to do more Optics? How about Hecht. General relativity? Even that should be accessible with Schutz. Play around here before moving on. A lot of very fascinating things should be accessible to you, at least to a degree, at this point.


Before moving on to physics, it is once again time to take up the mathematics. Pick up Arfken and Weber. It covers a great many topics. However, at times it is not the best pedagogical book so you may need some supplemental material on whatever it is you are studying. I would at least read the sections on coordinate transformations, vector analysis, tensors, complex analysis, Green's functions, and the various special functions. Some of this may be a bit of a review, but there are some things Arfken and Weber go into that I didn't see during my undergraduate education even with the topics that I was reviewing. Hell, it may be a good idea to go through the differential equations material in there as well. Again, you may need some supplemental material while doing this. For special functions, a great little book to go along with this is Lebedev.

Beyond this, I think every physicist at the bare minimum needs to take graduate level quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and statistical mechanics. For quantum, I recommend Cohen-Tannoudji. This is a great book. It's easy to understand, has many supplemental sections to help further your understanding, is pretty comprehensive, and has more worked examples than a vast majority of graduate text-books. That said, the problems in this book are LONG. Not horrendously hard, mind you, but they do take a long time.

Unfortunately, Cohen-Tannoudji is the only great graduate-level text I can think of. The textbooks in other subjects just don't measure up in my opinion. When you take Classical mechanics I would get Goldstein as a reference but a better book in my opinion is Jose/Saletan as it takes a geometrical approach to the subject from the very beginning. At some point I also think it's worth going through Arnold's treatise on Classical. It's very mathematical and very difficult, but I think once you make it through you will have as deep an understanding as you could hope for in the subject.

u/Light-of-Aiur · 1 pointr/videos

So, without any human interference, sunsets/sunrises are supposed to be nearly mirror images of each other. However, interfered we have, so there are some differences between photos of sunset and sunrise.

Assuming this wasn't taken on a tripod with a good camera sporting a really good zoom lens, my terribly amateur opinion is that this is a photo of sunset, based on how scattered the light is.
At sunrise, the color tends to be more focused nearer the sun. At sunset, however, the larger amount of pollutants/dust in the atmosphere help scatter the light more, muting/dulling out the more vibrant colors and scattering the reds/oranges further from the horizon.

Source: We read this book for a drafting/design class in high-school.

u/pixeljammer · 1 pointr/AfterEffects

Thanks for turning me on to Loomis. In return, here's an excellent and fascinating reference on real-world light: Color and Light in Nature https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521775043/

u/learnyouahaskell · 1 pointr/funny

The Amazon reviews suggest that book is not very satisfying to the students. Our professor did not have major complaints about Hecht's textbook, but he bought the copies because it was a supplement for the last half or third of the course. You can see the reviews of the 4th edition here. Personally, I thought it was useful but still not as clear and organized as I had hoped.

u/phlogistic · 1 pointr/MLPLounge

Not exactly what you were asking about, but this is the book that first got me interested in learning about physics. It's been forever since I read it though, so I don't remember it very well and can't vouch for it's quality anymore.

u/Physics_Cat · 2 pointsr/AskPhysics

Oh, for your other question, my favorite book about light scattering theory is this: http://www.amazon.com/Light-Scattering-Small-Particles-Physics/dp/0486642283

I think you can find a pdf copy online and then cite the book in your report.