By Art Friedman and Leonard Susskind
Review by Scott (Physics)
I would recommend this book to any aspiring university physicists as it gives an insight into what physics at university level is like. Unlike other popular science books, this book aims to keep the number of words to a minimum and as the name implies, only say exactly what is needed to explain a concept. As a result, the book can seem a little dry at times but you learn so much more from it in the absence of the waffling, hand-wavy descriptions that other books contain. It’s also the sort of book you can read multiple times and learn something new on every read whether you are a year 12 reading ahead or a 1st or 2nd year undergraduate student. The one caveat I would add is that you shouldn’t go into it expecting to understand the subtleties of every piece of maths within the book – I certainly didn’t / still don’t!
However, the book is arranged logically such that the difficulty gradually ramps up as the chapters progress, so the first time I read it, I didn’t even reach the last chapter. Nonetheless, I still learnt so much from reading the first few chapters and, each time I came back to it, I could get a little further through the text. It’s a great book to mention on your personal statement because physics admissions tutors are always particularly keen to see students who recognise and appreciate how different A Level physics is to university physics. On the whole, this book provides a fascinating insight into what university level physics is like and is a book you will be able to keep coming back to for years to come.
Classical Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum by Art Friedman and Leonard Susskind
Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.