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In this unconventional and stimulating primer, world-class physicist Leonard Susskind and citizen-scientist George Hrabovsky combine forces to provide a brilliant first course in modern physics. Unlike most popular physics books – which give readers a taste of what physicists know but not what they actually do – Susskind and Hrabovsky teach the skills you need to do physics yourself. Combining crystal-clear explanations of the laws of the universe with basic exercises, the authors cover the minimum – the theoretical minimum of the title – that readers need to master in order to study more advanced topics. In a lucid, engaging style, they introduce all the key concepts, from classical mechanics to general relativity to quantum theory. Instead of shying away from the equations and maths that are essential to any understanding of physics, The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics provides a toolkit that you won't find in any other popular science book.
- Lecture 1. The Nature of Classical Physics
- Interlude 1. Spaces, Trigonometiy, and Vectors
- Lecture 2. Motion
- Interlude 2. Integral Calculus
- Lecture 3. Dynamics
- Interlude 3. Partial Differentiation
- Lecture 4. Systems of More Than One Particle
- Lecture 5. Energy
- Lecture 6. The Principle of Least Action
- Lecture 7. Symmetries and Conservation Laws
- Lecture 8. Hamiltonian Mechanics and Time-Translation Invariance
- Lecture 9. The Phase Space Fluid and the Gibbs-Liouville Theorem
- Lecture 10. Poisson Brackets, Angular Momentum, and Symmetries
- Lecture 11. Electric and Magnetic Forces
- Appendix 1 Central Forces and Planetary Orbits
Leonard Susskind has been the Felix Bloch Professor in Theoretical Physics at Stanford University since 1978. The author of The Black Hole War and The Cosmic Landscape, he lives in Palo Alto, California. He is widely considered to be one of the fathers of string theory.
George Hrabovsky is the president of Madison Area Science and Technology (MAST), a nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific and technological research and education. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
"Beautifully clear explanations of famously 'difficult things.'"
– Wall Street Journal
"What a wonderful and unique resource. For anyone who is determined to learn physics for real, looking beyond conventional popularizations, this is the ideal place to start."
– Sean Carroll, physicist, California Institute of Technology, and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
"A spectacular effort to make the real stuff of theoretical physics accessible to amateurs."
– Science News
"Very readable. Abstract concepts are well explained [...] [The Theoretical Minimum] does provide a clear description of advanced classical physics concepts, and gives readers who want a challenge the opportunity to exercise their brain in new ways."
– Physics World
"Readers ready to embrace their inner applied mathematics will enjoy this brisk, bare-bares introduction to classical mechanics."
– Publishers Weekly