- Hardcover: 1552 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (15 September 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691159025
- ISBN-13: 978-0691159027
- Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 6.4 x 26.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 3.3 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Modern Classical Physics: Optics, Fluids, Plasmas, Elasticity, Relativity, and Statistical Physics Hardcover – 15 Sep 2017
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Kip S. Thorne, Co-Winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics
From the Inside Flap
"Remarkable for its scope and authority, this text offers a new vision of the 'theoretical minimum' of classical physics that all physicists should know, a vision that I hope will revitalize the curricula of many physics departments. On my own shelf it will replace half a dozen dog-eared reference texts."--Scott Tremaine, Institute for Advanced Study
"In an era of fragmentation and specialization, Thorne and Blandford have given us an audacious and splendid grand unification of classical physics, using geometry and space-time as synthesizing principles. Complicated fields as diverse as optics, elasticity, and plasma physics fall to their masterful pedagogy."--William H. Press, University of Texas at Austin
"Comprehensive, concise, and coherent, this is a marvelous summary of the essence of classical physics, somewhat reminiscent of the classic texts of Landau and Lifshitz, and an essential part of any physicist's toolkit. Classical physics is not 'old' physics; it contains many of the most interesting challenges to our understanding of nature and it stands (as in this book) in consistent juxtaposition with quantum physics. This book includes many interesting and often difficult problems, and it will particularly benefit students in the astrophysical and related sciences."--David Stevenson, Caltech
"This is an excellent resource for students and researchers seeking introductions to important subjects neglected by most modern physics curricula."--Jeremy Goodman, Princeton University
"This text is a tour de force. I cannot overemphasize how big a contribution to teaching it will be. It is also likely to instantly become a desk reference for a large part of the research physics community."--Steinn Sigurdsson, Pennsylvania State University
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Sold as a first-year graduate course in Physics, anyone who has browsed through it, would discover as I did, that this is certainly true if the graduate course in question is one of the caliber of a Cal Tech, Princeton or Stanford University. However, at most American universities, this content would be broken up into six or more second-year or above graduate level courses.
As a dilettante, and a Physicist wanna-be, I only wanted to get right to the sexy stuff, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology, but first Kip had to give us a little “Roo-Roo,” called optics, fluids, plasmas, statistical physics and elasticity. Indeed, only as an afterthought, does it all make complete sense, because at various points in my physics life, I too have had to grapple with each of these as a side issue while pursuing other topics. I guess the logic is: Why not treat them all up front and get them out of the way?
A warning to those squeamish about mathematics: Be ready to rumble, to jump off the high end of the diving board, as the book assumes everything up to Tensors to be elementary mathematics (Say what?).
The good news is that if you are old like me, you don’t have to worry about working out the exercises. Imagining the broad outlines of their respective solutions is quite sufficient — provided you do not cheat. You must play the mind games fairly in order to feel that you really understand.
I guess my point is this: You only need a good enough grasp of the concepts to be able to follow the mathematics to their logical conclusions without getting stuck. As usual, this means from time to time, you must consult and review older mathematics texts, or run the risk of getting tied in knots trying to unravel the matrix notation implicit in most of the more generalized formulations. But as anyone who has been reading any modern physics texts knows, that is par for the course. In this case, it is par for six different courses. It helps too if you have been over this material before, in particular, the geometric paradigm, because prior knowledge will kick-in at the right time.
One reviewer complained that he did not need any handholding. Well, I say speak for yourself? For me, the more handholding the better. I found it especially helpful for the authors to give us a thorough overview of his approach, and then tell us where earlier topics would be inserted and used in the grand finale — and then pointed back to those references once we got there!
Going back and forth, not only was useful, but necessary. In fact without these critical intercessions, it was quite easy for my mind to drift off. Statistical Physics, Optics and Fluids, okay? Even Elasticity too, but why would I need a primer in Plasma physics in order to prepare for Relativity and Cosmology?
It didn’t matter, I cheated anyway, and jumped forward to the main menu items, General relativity and Cosmology. But I will be the first to admit that even after reviewing every U-Tube lecture on Einstein’s field equations, and going over Richard Feynman’s two-volume “Lectures in Physics” for the third or fourth time, these authors’ treatment of the Field Equations were still scary. Even with that much preparation, the presentation in this book remained difficult.
My plan going forward is to stick with the difficult parts until I am satisfied that I understand them well enough for my own needs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime book, and I am going to enjoy it for years to come. What a treat for a home-grown frustrated Physicist! 10 stars!
"In this book, a central theme will be a Geometric Principle: The laws of physics must all be expressible as geometric (coordinate-independent and reference-frame independent) relationships between geometric objects (scalars, vectors, tensors,...) that represent physical entities."
Kip Thorne, Charles Misner, and John Archibald Wheeler attempted to fulfill this same geometric vision for General Relativity in the early 1970s with the publication of the 1279-page landmark work, Gravitation. One can therefore see this recent book by Blandford and Thorne as the extension of the geometric program to many areas of classical physics. For those of us who are "true believers" in the geometric program, this book is a welcome addition to the literature.
One remark on the physical quality of the book under review. Despite having 1511 pages, the book is hardbound and sturdy enough to hold up under years of study. The paper quality is first-rate, and there are even color graphics scattered throughout. Princeton University Press is to be commended for producing a first-class textbook at a reasonable price. Their recent hardbound republication of the classic book Gravitation is also extremely well done, and for an amazingly low price.
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