Maybe you have seen some of my posts on basic topics. One of the original ideas I had for creating the “basics” posts was so that I would not need to keep repeatedly explaining what the fundamental physics concepts were for each post. I can only explain the work-energy principle so many times before I go crazy (maybe I am already there).
So anyway, it appears I have written enough of these posts that they could somewhat be considered a textbook. I have thought about textbooks for some time now. I considered writing one, but wasn’t sure where to start. This way was really nice because I could just do a little here and a little there.
Textbooks are in a strange situation. It seems that publishers are trying to figure out how textbooks will evolve and what the next big thing in textbooks will be. There are many possibilities out there with the internet and ebook readers and such, but I am not sure what the best thing is. I do know this – if no one reads a book, it is not very useful. For some groups of students (depending on which class it is), they just use the textbook as a place to hunt for formulas. Clearly, this is not how the book was intended to be used.
Enough about the general idea behind textbooks. What in in this textbook? This “textbook” is very basic. It does not have end of chapter exercises. It does not even have chapters for that matter. Also, this is just the first semester of a traditional introductory physics course (mechanics type stuff). In mechanics there are just a few very basic ideas – the momentum principle and work-energy principle. That right there covers a huge chunk of most textbooks (although the students don’t normally see it that way).
How should you use this book? I have no idea. Maybe you just want to use it as a reference. Actually, there are some other reference type websites out there. In particular, I can think of a couple:
- Hyper Physics: This is a concept-map oriented site. It has basically all of the intro physics topics.
- Physics 2000: This is not exactly a textbook – but it came to my mind. It is really more of a conceptual presentation of modern physics.
- Wikipedia: Really, this has a lot of good stuff. Look up apparent weight, for instance. Everything is essentially there (and if it’s not, you can add it). Of course, it may not all be organized in chapters and stuff.
There are ton more out there, but I hesitate to list any that I am not familiar with. If you have one you like, feel free to post it in the comments.