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iDante comments on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject - Less Wrong

167 Post author: lukeprog 16 January 2011 08:30AM

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Comment author: iDante 20 July 2012 05:39:28AM *  3 points [-]

Special relativity: Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler is excellent. It reminds me of the general style of the Feynman lectures, but is in depth and has good problem sets. Like the Feynman lectures it is based on developing intuition, which is important for relativity because, like QM, every single human is born with the wrong intuition. It takes time and practice to develop. Also like Feynman, the writing style isn't akin to a barren wasteland like most textbooks. It is written to teach, not as an accompaniment to a university course. Finally, the problem sets are the best I've ever run into in any physics book.

The Feynman lectures has a few chapters about special relativity but they're short and not nearly as good as the rest of the lectures.

The first time I learned this material was through the book Modern Physics by Harris. Dodge this book at all costs. The writing is as clear as a muddied lake, or maybe a blizzard sky of deepest winter. The problems are numerous and boring. Rote physics indeed.

The MIT intro to special relativity is decent, but very dry like all the other MIT intro books. Not recommended for self study, but great as a class companion.

These are all that I've read, but there are many many more out there. This site is a bit dated but contains lots of good books. It recommended spacetime physics which turned out to be amazing. One book I see overlooked often is Einstein's own explanation of the subject. Be careful what printing you buy, or download it off of Gutenberg. It is somewhat outdated and very short, but if you only have a few hours to spare it will give you a good outline of both theories. Since it's free and short I'd recommend giving it a go before buying a textbook. I personally find SR fascinating, but others might not and this will help you decide.