Computational Physics by Mark Newman
This indepth introduction to the field of computational physics explains the fundamental techniques that every physicist should know. Techniques such as finite difference methods, numerical quadrature, and the fast Fourier transform are of great importance in nearly every branch of physics. Computational Physics by Newman gives a detailed introduction to these techniques in Python along with clear examples. The text starts with an indepth introduction to the basic principles of Python and then heads on into various numerical methods used for solving differential equations. In addition, Fourier transforms and Markov chain Monte Carlo processes are explored as well.
Computational Physics by Giordano and Nakanishi
Computational Physics by Giordano and Nakanishi is another often quoted text that covers a wide range of topics in computational physics. The physical situations explored in the text include projectile motion, the movement of the planets in the Solar System, pendulum motion and chaos, problems in statistical physics and others. Additional interdisciplinary topics include neural networks and the brain, real neurons and action potentials and even cellular automata. The examples are written in Basic, which is a language renowned for being easy to pick up.
Computational Physics by Thijssen
This entry is a more advanced take on the core topics in computational physics. The book covers many different topics such as Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics, various electronic structure methodologies, methods for solving partial differential equations, and lattice gauge theory. Newly added topics in this updated edition include finite element methods and lattice Boltzmann simulation, density functional theory, quantum molecular dynamics and diagonalisation of onedimensional quantum systems. Recommended for those with a solid foundation in physics and programming.
A First Course in Computational Physics by DeVries and Hasbun
Intended for the physics and engineering students who have completed introductory physics courses, this text covers the different types of computational problems using MATLAB. Topics such as root finding, NewtonCotes integration, and ordinary differential equations are included and presented in the context of physics problems. A decent understanding of MATLAB programming is required.
Introduction to Numerical Programming by Beu
This often cited text aims to make numerical programming more accessible to a wider audience of scientists and engineers. Through practical examples in Python and C/C++ a wide variety of relevant topics are introduced, including function evaluation, solving algebraic and transcendental equations, systems of linear algebraic equations, ordinary differential equations, and eigenvalue problems. Furthermore, Markov chain Monte Carlo methods are employed to solve a variety of physics problems. The text requires only a basic understanding of programming in Python or C/C++, as an introductory section covers the needed topics.
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Know any other great mathematical physics textbooks? Please share in the comments.
1. Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering by Riley, Hobson and Bence
One of the classic basic mathematical physics books. This 1359 page tome offers an in depth analysis of all the basic topics as well as over 800 exercises. In particular, the book starts off with basic algebra and calculus, as well as a great introduction to series and complex functions. More advanced and specialized topics, such as quantum operators, probability theory and statistics are covered as well. The book offers a great introduction and a reference guide for later undergrad years. The only con of this book in my eyes is the annoying student solution manual that has to be bought separately. Selling the solution manuals separately, unfortunately, seems to be a vice shared by many of similar textbooks.
2. A Course of Modern Mathematical Physics by Szekeres
This course on mathematical physics by Szekeres has a reputation of being a quick, yet an indepth overview of the core concepts of mathematical physics. One obvious advantage is the “tiny” size of the book — being more than twice as short as the book in the previous entry, A Course of Modern Mathematical covers roughly the same material.
3. Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences by Boas
Here we have another classic textbook. Written by Mary L. Boas back in 1966, the 3d edition of the book still dominates the shelves and happens to be one of the popular reference guides to both math and physics undergrads. The topics covered include basic algebra, calculus, complex analysis, series, differential equations, statistics and probability theory, tensors and a few others. In addition, the book contains problems after each section with answers to selected problems given at the end.
4. Mathematical Methods for Physicists by Arfken, Weber and Harris
Another popular textbook often used as a reference source in many mathematical physics courses. Even though the book is widely used among undergrads, the reviews range from awful to absolutely recommended. Common complaints of the book focus on the lack of solutions to the exercises and the lack of depth in certain chapters. On the positive note, the book is often regarded as one of the best sources for refreshing your mathematical physics knowledge.
5. Mathematical Techniques by Jordan and Smith
This entry has a reputation for being an easily accessible, clear and nononsense guide to mathematical techniques for physicists and engineers. The topic selection is a bit smaller than in the previous entries, but all the crucial topics are still there. In addition to the problems at the end of each section, the reader is also offered a selection of selfcheck questions.
Bonus: Mathematics for Physics by Stone and Goldbart
Here we have a free prepublication pdf version of the great textbook by Stone and Goldbart. It is geared towards graduate students and thus covers a little more advanced topics, including complex analysis, lie groups, calculus of manifolds, geometry of fibre bundles and so on.
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1. 
The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity (USCA) The theory of general relativity, first presented in 1915, has caused quite a revolution in physics. For a hundred years the theory has been questioned, tested and explored revealing some of the most surprising secrets of the universe. In this book astrophysicist Pedro Ferreira brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers, who played the crucial role in its development. For the upcoming anniversary of GR, The Perfect Theory offers a great overview of a great theory. 

2. 
Wizards Aliens and Starships (USCA) From teleportation and space elevators to alien contact and interstellar travel, science fiction and fantasy writers have come up with some brilliant and innovative ideas. Yet how plausible are these ideas? Charles L. Adler, a physicist and lifelong science fiction enthusiast tackles this question in this definite guide to science fiction. 

3. 
Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler (USCA) One of the most underlooked and, in many ways, mysterious era in the history of science was of course the reign of the third reich. Serving the Reich tells the story of physicis under Hitler when some scientists tried to create an Aryan physics that excluded any ‘Jewish ideas’, whereas many others made compromises and concessions as they continued to work under the Nazi regime. Interestingly, some of the most famous physicists played an important role at this bizarre time in history including Max Planck, Peter Debye and Werner Heisenberg. 

4. 
Five Billion Years of Solitude (USCA) How would you describe the history of Earth in a single sentence? How about five billion years of solitude? After all, since Earth’s formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. But over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets,” including some that could be similar to our own world, and the pace of discovery is accelerating. In this book Lee Billings draws on interviews with the world’s top experts in the search for life beyond earth. 

5. 
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (USCA) What if everyone pointed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time? Or, What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% of the speed of light? If you need to know the answer to these and dozens of other absurd, yet charming questions, What If is the perfect book for you. From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd.com, this book offers hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. 
1. University Physics with Modern Physics by Young, Freedman & Lewis Ford
University Physics is one of the most popular physics textbooks used in many universities around the world. This beast of a book (1600 pages) covers all the basics that a physics or engineering student might need, plus adds a thorough introduction to modern physics. The topics covered include: mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, optics & modern physics. The modern physics section covers relativity, quantum mechanics, particle physics, cosmology & atomic structure. Due to the relatively high price of the 13th edition, many students might prefer the 12th edition, which covers mostly the same topics.
2. Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics by Douglas C. Giancoli
This one is another popular textbook focusing on the basics of physics for university students. The book is a little shorter and cheaper than University Physics, however it covers almost the exact same topics. The textbook has a nice structure, with an emphasis on examples. In addition, it is calculus based, which is pretty standard for many of similar textbooks, however, this book seems to have the right level of difficulty. For students from other disciplines, or simply those, who are looking for something lighter in terms of math, there is a very nice algebraic introductory textbook by Giancoli called Physics: Principles and Applications. This text is cheaper and is dedicated to premed, agricultural, technology, and architectural students.
3. Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick and Jearl Walker
Here we have another classic textbook, which is often regarded as the gold standard of freshman textbooks and also happens to be my personal favourite. What is more, in 2002, Fundamentals of Physics was named the most outstanding introductory physics textbook of the 20th century by the American Physical Society. Like other books from this list, Fundamentals of Physics is a huge tome that covers all the major areas of undergraduate physics. In particular, the main topics include: basics of physics and mechanics, waves, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, optics and special relativity. The extended edition of the textbook also covers such modern physics topics as quantum mechanics, solid state physics, atomic and molecular physics and cosmology. Two great features of the book, that I found especially helpful, were the sample problems for each topic and the summaries after each chapter, which were invaluable during exam revision. In addition to that, Fundamental of Physics has plenty of problems after each chapter, which are also a great source for extra practice.
4. Physics for Scientists and Engineers: A Strategic Approach by Randall D. Knight
Physics for Scientists and Engineers is another widely acclaimed textbook used in physics classes all around the world. The author has a reputation of using as little math as possible and focusing on the logic of problem solving, which you may like or hate depending on what you want to learn. The book is often mentioned among the textbooks that focus on educational research to update and improve the material with each new edition. This is obvious in the new edition, which has additional chapter previews, challenge examples, problem sets and summaries.
5. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman
The Feynman Lectures on Physics are often regarded as one of the most popular physics textbooks ever written. And while it is hard to say if that is true or not, one thing is undeniable — these lectures are invaluable when it comes to teaching conceptual understanding of basic physics. Most people, including experts of the field, recommend The Feynman Lectures due to their intuitive explanation of complex topics and an original approach to teaching undergrad physics. One disadvantage of these books, however, is a lack of focus on problem solving, which is obviously a major part of any physics course. Despite that, most physicists would likely agree that anyone with an interest in physics should read these books at least once.
Agree, disagree? Have your own favourite textbook? Please share in the comment section below.
Extra links:
A free physics textbook: Motion Mountain
List of free science books, including many textbooks
A huge list of recommended physics and math books
Jennifer Ouellette (from Coctail Party Physics) listed her favourite books of the year at the beginning of December. The top three books were The Particle at the End of the Universe, The Universe in the RearView Mirror & Newton’s Football. The top book, by the way, was written by her husband, a great physicist Sean Carroll and I have to agree that in 2013, the year of the confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs boson, Carroll’s wellwritten book really stands out. The Particle at the End of the Universe describes the hunt for and the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider and was the 2013 winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
Andrew Zimmerman Jones also listed his favourite science books at his blog on about.com. The list was topped by the newest bestseller autobiography of Stephen Hawking called My Brief History. My personal favourite of the list, however, is the Magnificent Principia by Colin Pask. In Magnificent Principia Pask leads the readers through one of the most important works of science: Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. The work is discussed in light of modern understanding of Newtonian physics.
Among the top books in New Scientist’s list, we can also find some great physics books such as Beyond the God Particle, which takes up the gargantuan task of explaining the physics of Higgs boson to everyday readers and Forecast, which explains what role physics and meteorology play in economics.
Amazon editors’ selection of the top science books of the year include such books as Love and Math: the Heart of the Hidden Reality and Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age.
Finally, Physics World has recently announced their choice for the book of the year and it was a work on the peculiar science of quantum mechanics and how it relates to consciousness called Physics in Mind: The Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein. The book tackles a variety of problems in current understanding of consciousness and does it by resorting to quantum mechanics. As you might imagine, writing about such controversial subjects always leads to a high risk of resorting to wild speculations, but, as Physics World editors mentioned, Loewenstein does a great job of avoiding this. Take this and add Loewenstein’s great prose and you have a great book worthy of your attention.
All in all, there are many great books to choose from in these lists. My personal recommendation to you would be The Particle at the End of the Universe, The Magnificent Principia & Physics in Mind.
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Hardcover: 584 pages Publisher: Pegasus (15 Aug 2011) ISBN10: 1605981974 ISBN13: 9781605981970 Kindle edition: (US) Reviews: customer reviews


Rating: ★★★★  Rank: 542,196  US version  UK version 
For many reasons the 5th decade of the 20th century should be marked black in the history of science. First of all, the 2nd world war used the most advanced technologies known at that time, secondly, the 5th decade marked the creation of the atom bomb. The creation of the atom bomb marked a beginning of a new order in the world after the great war and eventually played a major role in the cold war. In The First War of Physics, Baggott tells the story of the atom bomb, focusing on years 19391949.
The subject of the development of the atom bomb has been covered thoroughly in literature, which is obvious from the sheer number of books dedicated to the Manhattan Project. The other side of the story — the Soviet nuclear program — is still mostly unknown to many people. The unique aspect of the book is that it goes over and beyond what most other popular books did — Baggott aims to describe the detailed story of the atom bomb, as it happened all around the globe, using the information from the American, British and Soviet archives.
Needless to say, the book, besides the historical facts, also focuses on the lives of the great physicists, who played a role in the creation of the deadly weapon. This part of the book uncovers the doublesided lives of the scientists, who, besides tackling the mysteries of the atom, often played important, yet often overlooked, roles in the history of the world’s strongest countries. First War of Physics, follows the lives of Robert Oppenheimer, Otto Frisch, Werner Heisenberg, Edward Teller and others.
Overall, the book stands out from other similar books, due to its length and completeness. It gives an overview of the story of the atom bomb, covering it from all different angles. All of this is done using information from the archives. Thus it is recommended for anyone, who’s looking for a solid and a thorough overview of the subject.
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Author: John Gribbin Paperback: 336 Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (2013) ISBN13: 9781118299265 Reviews: customer reviews Buy on eBay 

Rating: ★★★★½  Ranking: 904  US Version  UK Version 
John Gribbin, who is often described as one of the best living science writers, has written a number of great books about quantum physics including “In Search for Schrodinger’s Cat“, “Schrodinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality” and “Q is for Quantum“. Thus it is no surprise that the newest book focuses on life of Erwin Schrodinger and the quantum revolution at the beginning of 20th century. In a way this book is a continuation of the earlier works of Gribbin on the history and revolutions in science, as it tells the story of how the discoveries of quantum mechanics played a crucial role in transforming our understanding of the world.
As a physicist Schrodinger heavily criticized the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which was put forward by Niels Bohr and his colleagues. The main critique was that the interpretation gave results that disagreed with common sense, which was something that Schrodinger hated. The so called Schrodinger cat thought experiment was meant to illustrate the logical flaws of the most popular interpretation of quantum mechanics. This battle with Bohr’s view of quantum mechanics, as Gribbin writes, made Schrodinger into a bit of rebel in the physics community.
Interestingly, Schrodinger wasn’t only an unconventional physicist — he was also an eccentric man. As his colleagues noticed, Schrodinger was at his creative peak only when involved into passionate affairs, which were an integral part of his life. Naturally, such a hobby led to countless cases of adultery and even illegitimate children — a more controversial side of the Schrodinger’s life, which Gribbin doesn’t shy away from in his work.
Overall, Gribbin gives a thorough overview of Schrodinger’s life from every angle. One of the greatest advantages of the book is that it doesn’t ignore technical details, which will be especially appealing to more technical readers. This is true mostly because the author is a great scientist himself. And this is especially obvious at the end of the book, where Gribbin concludes with an uptodate overview of experimental tests of quantum entanglement, quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation.
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