The Theoretical Minimum

| January 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

For those of you who have no idea who Leonard Susskind is, perhaps the best description would be that he is “that guy who started off as a plumber and turned out to be one of the best theoretical physicists”. But besides that, Susskind is quite famous for being a good teacher, always working on improving his teaching skills, which can be seen in many of his lecture available online. His rather simple but efficient lecturing style has taught me some good stuff as well, so I would highly recommend these courses. But let’s get back to the subject — “The Theoretical Minimum” is a new book co-authored by Susskind and George Hrabovsky — the president of Madison Area Science and Technology, a developer of Mathematica and a theoretical physicists himself. As you might guess from the title, the aim of the book is to give you the absolute minimum working knowledge of physics.

Authors: Leonard Susskind and
George Hrabovsky

Paperback: 256

Publisher: Basic Books (January 29, 2013)

ISBN-10: 046502811X

ISBN-13: 978-0465028115

Kindle edition: (US|UK)

Reviews: 25 customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★★ Ranking: 1281 US Version UK Version

The aim of this book, in my view, is one of the hardest possible aims that a physics book can have — to give an exact amount of knowledge about a given subject — not too much but not too little either. That is, a book such as this aims in the dead center position between popular science books and solid textbooks — after all, you don’t want to make a book boring or too technical for beginners. And it seems “The Theoretical Minimum” has it almost right. The book is certainly aimed a little more towards a text book, but it is still enjoyable and quite readable.


 The chapters (lectures) included are as follows:

  • 1. Classical Physics
  • 2. Motion
  • 3. Dynamics
  • 4. Multiple Particle Systems
  • 5. Energy
  • 6. Least Action Principle
  • 7. Symmetries and Conservation
  • 8. Hamiltonian Mechanics
  • 9. Phase Space Fluid and Gibbs-Liouville
  • 10. Poisson Brackets, Angular Momentum, Symmetries
  • 11. Electric and Magnetic Forces

So as you can see from the content list, it’s quite a serious summary of basic physics, not excluding the required maths. This means that the book could be a little too hairy for a total beginner. However, readers who already have some experience with physics and maths, or those, who need a good refresher will definitely find this book handy. In addition, as one reviewer put it, this book could be very useful for physics students during revision, as it is like a summary of more serious textbooks.



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Category: Physics Books

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