Revisiting Physics textbooks and materials I've already forgotten so quickly

Goldstein’s Classical Mechanics 3rd edition was the class text for graduate level Classical Mechanics. In my MS program this was the hardest class, worse than the classes on General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and Mathematical Methods for physicists. That may be consequence of the level of difficulty of how the other classes were taught, but Classical Mechanics by far was the hardest.

My favorite acknowledgement in Goldstein’s book was in Greek (I don’t know why Greek, since the Old Testament was in Hebrew!):

page xi:
Psalm 19: 1

οι ουρανοί διήγουνται δόξαν θεού
the heavens describe the glory of God

and on page xv Goldstein writes:

Above all I want to register the thanks and acknowledgement of my heart, in the words of Daniel 2:23:

And then quotes part of it in Hebrew:

לָךְ אֱלָהּ אֲבָהָתִי, מְהוֹדֵא וּמְשַׁבַּח אֲנָה, דִּי חָכְמְתָא וּגְבוּרְתָא יְהַבְתְּ לִי


I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,

The next brutal book was Mathematical Methods of Physics by Matthews and Walker. Mathematical Methods was the 2nd hardest class in my program. Some of my classmates were Savants, and they breezed through it. Not me.

Since my physics classes were to re-train engineers into physics, some of the other texts were on the easier side

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths

A first course in General Relativity by Bernard Schutz
I was interested in the topic of relativity since it was important for cosmology and understanding the various YEC alternatives to cosmology particularly the distant starlight problem.

We were thankfully spared the infamous
Classical Electrodynamics by JD Jackson (YIKES!)

A good book which I only got through the first six chapters was
Statistical Mechanics by Pathria and Beale
but some of the end-of-chapter problem sets were brutal

I’ve forgotten so much already of what I studied, and that was only 6 years ago!

The one topic I’ve probably studied more since my MS program was statistical mechanics and thermodynamics since these concepts appear frequently in chemistry. I’d like to go back and re learn QM, which I never really learned well. Griffiths book is a good book for that. Statistical Mechanics and QM appear every now and then in the ID debate, and that’s what motivated me to study these disciplines.

I had Solid State physics, which I felt was poorly taught and the class textbook wasn’t even used by the professor.

Next was Astrophysics. There was a supplemental text suggested by the professor:
Structure and Evolution of Stars by Martin Scwharzchild. I just started reading it last night. The professor, was really mathy so I learned some mathy stuff, but I didn’t feel I really learned astrophysics as much as I wanted. I wanted to study astrophysics some since it had relevance to YEC issues.

Relativity and another course on Cosmology (which used relativity) was informative. It was after studying Cosmology that I began to think YEC was more viable, especially after learning of Guth/Linde Inflation hypothesis where the universe supposedly expanded at 1000 to 1,000,000 or more times the speed of light, without any directly testable mechanism. Expanding space always bothered me in class, and even my classmates (who probably weren’t YECs) were skeptical.

The cosmology text book was on the easy side (again for retraining engineers like me, not physicists!):
Introduction to Cosmology by Barbara Ryden

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Is there a point here? If so, what is it? I’m at a loss to discover your reasons for posting this.

I was hoping I could find some other physics guys here to talk about physics.

I thought this was a good starting point for the forum mission:

“encourages presenting scientific findings in a theologically-neutral manner so as to reduce unnecessary conflict, so as to better advance understanding of scientific findings in the public square.”

So, I didn’t throw down a religious text, per se. I put on the table textbook science from which discussions can proceed.

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Here’s a suggestion: start by talking about physics, not your personal reminiscences of old physics classes and texts, none of them having anything to do with physics.

Well thanks for your suggestion, but I was sharing what I liked and loved in science, and I hope someone would share what they like and loved and science. I also thought some here could identify with the ordeals too.

Would you like me to start talking about statistical mechanics of monoatomic gases? I like talking about that.

There is stuff on relativity I don’t quite get. The stress energy tensors were a little challenging.

I want to understand the comparison of the Hamiltonian in Classical mechanics vs. the Hamiltonian Operator in the Generalized formulation of the Schrodinger equation. I’m not that comfortable with the Bra-Ket notation.

Maybe someone will talk about it and help me re-learn.

There was someone here who described this:

I never learned it. What class is that in?

Someone here knows particle physics. I’m not at all familiar with that field. Anyone here with background aside from Daniel?

Actually I’m working with some Creationist and pro-ID faculty in Christian and secular universities developing a curricula for ID/Creation theory to be offered in Christian colleges. I need to brush up on a lot of stuff, at least for my own piece of mind.

Some of the content will be offered through and online buffet-style module based learning since a freshman drama major will have a different knowledge base than a senior in biochemistry. I need to become versant and to vet some of the teaching materials.

In any case, I just stumbled across this:

To help vet some of my physics materials before I waste time of faculty that I have relationships with. I’m not going to impose heavy editorial responsibilities on them. I want the content to inspire trust, at least as far as the pure science.

Can you share any of the people you are working with?


The people I mention are teaching me what I need to know. They aren’t actually writing the curriculum but I am leveraging some of what they taught me.

There are some whose names should be withheld since they are in secular institutions and in sensitive positions.

Some names are out in the open:
Dr. Joe Deweese, associate professor of Biochemistry Lipscomb and Vanderbilt
Dr. Change Tan, associate professor of cellular biology, Missouri, post doc Harvard
Dr. Rob Stadler, biomedical engineer, private industry but Harvard trained

I mentioned Joe Deweese here:

Some of Dr. Tan’s writings have been featured in AnswersInGenesis, but I thought, for the most part it was legitimate for any venue. This was one her best offerings:

And that work needs to be adapted for a college course because it is too technical.

Rob Stadler wrote this book, and it led to a scandal:

I’m learning from some of the materials he wrote, but published and unpublished.

I might have to tap Dr. Bill Basener for a little help someday:

Hamiltonian in quantum mechanics is just the Hamiltonian from classical mechanics quantized.

Classical mechanics.


PdotdQ HEY!!!

You’re the one who mentioned the tautological one form. I honestly don’t remember studying it in Goldstein’s book or my Classical Mechanics class. That’s not say I didn’t forget a ton of things. Thanks a million.

Hey PdotdQ,

I still kept this from you in my archives of treasured ideas:

Taking the exterior derivative of the tautological 1-form turns the cotangent bundle into a symplectic manifold. This gives us classical mechanics.

A symplectic manifold is also a Poisson manifold. Integrating the resulting Poisson bracket gives one the quantomorphism group, which underlies quantum mechanics.

Therefore, it is fair to say that the little assumption \theta=P \cdot dQ gives birth to all of physics, which is why it is an “egg” in my display picture. (I am being overdramatic here; it does not literally gives one all of physics, but a significant chunk of it).

No one every told me that except you.