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The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics Hardcover – 29 Jan 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (29 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846147980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846147982
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

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. It gets directly to the important points, with nuggets of deep insight scattered along the way. I'm going to be recommending this book right and left (Sean Carroll, physicist and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe)

So what do you do if you enjoyed science at school or college but ended up with a different career and are still wondering what makes the universe tick? . . . The Theoretical Minimum is the book for you. In this neat little book the authors aim to provide the minimum amount of knowledge you need about classical physics . . . to gain some real understanding of the world . . . They do so with great success . . . Along the way you get beautifully clear explanations of famously 'difficult' things like differential and integral calculus, conservation laws and what physicists mean by symmetries (John Gribbin Wall Street Journal)

Book Description

"Beautifully clear explanations of famously'difficult' things"-Wall Street Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's difficult to see who this book is aimed at. I really enjoyed it and learnt a great deal, but then I've completed 3 years of undergraduate education in physics. Perhaps it would be best for a 1st year university level physicist, one who's completed a couple of courses in calculus, or perhaps a brave A-Level student.
I've deducted a star though, because the book is rife with errors. Just have a look at the errata at madscitech.org, it's huge. Spelling mistakes are fine but errors in equations can really lead you astray.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The material covered in this book is just right for those with a desire to re-acquaint themselves with the fundamentals. The reason I have marked it down is that it is poorly produced in terms of the printing. In this day and age it is simply not good enough not to be able to produce formulas in perfect form especially as this is of prime importance in a book containing quite a lot of mathematical expressions. I have also picked up a few mistakes which should have been detected in proof reading. My guess is that the book was produced cheaply and in a hurry.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've tried to watch Leonard Susskind's on-line lectures you will know its really difficult to follow along without his notes. Of course it all makes sense as he says it. But he writes on a succession of boards and then refers back. At that point, without the notes you can become lost.

I thought this book would be a proxy for the notes but one that can be read independently. And it is, and it has the material. The problem to watch out for is that an issue is laid out and the foundations prepared then an equation will appear which is supposed to explain everything but it doesn't. It's a step too far. It's like there's a missing link. So in this sense it is frustrating because then its necessary to go to another book or web site to find the connection.

It also presents problems but the solutions are not in the book. They are on-line in a PDF which you have to download and print out separately. Why?

This could be a great book. After some revisions it may well be but not at the moment. It's written by someone who is good at Physics, for whom this all makes sense. I think George is not able to see when the leaps he makes, which are just common sense to him, are a challenge for the person trying to gain that sense.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a non-physicist, non-mathematician with a strong interest in both disciplines, I have tried to get to grips with quantum mechanics for years. I can get my head around the subject qualitatively, but have come to the realization that I am lacking the math to understand it quantitatively, so at the ripe old age of 69 I decided to try to get into the required math. This book is a godsend - it starts at a level I am familiar with from my college years, and goes on to explain the fundamentals of classical mechanics in a way that I was never taught, at a level within my capabilities. The videos of Susskind's accompanying lectures on YouTube are great. I am looking forward to reading the Quantum Mechanics version of the book with great eagerness.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that will appeal to anyone who has never studied physics beyond GCSE. The text is refreshingly clear and takes the reader on trip through the basics of classical mechanics in a very readable style. Susskind tackles the mathematics of calculus in a practical way cutting out the rigour and unecessary
baggage found in more formal texts. Having covered Newtonian mechanics he very quickly introduces the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian view, with just enough math to grasp the essentials. The overall aim is to provide the reader with insight to his other book, Quantum Mechanics a Theoretical Minimum. If you have a passing interest in the subject and do not want to plough through a two year math course then this book fulfills the purpose. Examples and exercises are provided throughout which can be tackled by anyone with basic high school math skills.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Susskind is a master at teaching complex physics theory in an easy to understand way - he's even better than Feynman
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having an undergraduate background in maths from 45 years ago I was very pleased with the way the book reminded me and updated my understanding of the subject but, and it's a big but, the formulae have been reproduced at such a small size that for example the dot representing a time derivative is a single pixel. This and all the formulae cannot be easily read except in a very good light or by using the back light at maximum. (To forestall some obvious remarks, my eyesight is quite a lot better than standard and has been recently tested.) Some of the material requires concentration and puzzling over exactly which symbol has been used is a considerable distraction. Enlarging the font makes no difference, presumably because the formulae have been reproduced as images. I have not found any which could not have been reproduced at twice the size without upsetting the page layout. This is such a problem that I was tempted to assign two stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a rip-off. I ordered this Basic Books version at the same time as I ordered "The Theoretical Minimum: Classical Mechanics" (Penguin). After browsing through the physics book, I thought that it was more a mechanics book than a physics book. I then had a look at the Classical Mechanics book and it looked very similar to the physics book. They are the same books, but retitled and issued by different publishers. The preface of the physics book even contains the line "Welcome, then, to The Theoretical Minimum - Classical Mechanics".

The books themselves, including the Quantum Mechanics book, look quite good at first glance, but it's a one start rating for the re-naming of the book.
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