Student review: Physics: A Student Companion

May 24, 2012

Author: Lowry A. Kirkby

Edition: First

Publisher: Scion Publishing

Pages: 432

Price: £.99

ISBN: 9781904842682

Every undergraduate physicist ought to own a copy of this remarkable, unique and innovative textbook. Unlike conventional physics texts, this is written very much with the student in mind; Lowry Kirkby was until recently an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, and the essence of this textbook is derived from the notes she compiled throughout her degree.

The textbook's main aim is to provide undergraduates with a text that complements standard undergraduate textbooks but can also stand alone as a concise and complete overview of an undergraduate physics course. Given the book's succinct format, it would be perfect as an aid to exam revision. It would also prove useful to researchers and to postgraduate students as a reference book should they need to be reminded of the basic concepts or equations.

The core fields in any accredited undergraduate physics degree are covered, including Newtonian mechanics and special relativity, electromagnetism, waves and optics, quantum physics and thermal physics. The book provides easy access to the fundamentals in all these fields, including key concepts, equations and their derivations.

The manner in which Kirkby presents the information is a feature that sets this textbook apart from many others. The format is extremely clear, with useful topic headings, an overview of the physics, key equations in boxes, and - possibly the most impressive feature of all - derivations in boxes with the mathematical steps on the left and the written explanation for these steps on the right. This clarity in a derivation is unique to this book: in other texts, authors generally assume a significant amount of knowledge when carrying out a complicated derivation and therefore the steps are not always obvious to the reader.

On the whole, the textbook is also very memory-friendly. In physics, the demands to memorise equations and derivations are frequently daunting, but with the help of this book, the task seems far more achievable. The clear explanations that aid understanding and concise summaries will mean that student readers are much more likely to retain the information and therefore succeed in examinations.

Overall this textbook is a worthwhile investment, particularly to physicists at undergraduate level, but also to more advanced physicists. It provides clear explanations of fundamental concepts, which is invaluable at all stages.

Who is it for? Primarily physics undergraduates.

Presentation: Clear and concise explanation of fundamental concepts.

Would you recommend it? Most definitely. I truly believe this textbook should be taken advantage of by all undergraduates, and I wish it had been published earlier in my undergraduate degree.

Highly recommended

Electricity and Magnetism

Author: Edward M. Purcell

Edition: Second

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Pages: 504

Price: £40.00

ISBN: 9781107013605

A Student's Guide to Einstein's Major Papers

Author: Robert E. Kennedy

Edition: First

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Pages: 328

Price: £25.00

ISBN: 9780199694037 and 9780191626937 (e-book)

Recommended

Mechanics of the Cell

Author: David Boal

Edition: Second

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Pages: 622

Price: £90.00 and £50.00

ISBN: 9780521113762 and 130691

Statistical Mechanics in a Nutshell

Author: Luca Peliti

Edition: First

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Pages: 416

Price: £52.00 and £62.40

ISBN 9780691145297 and 9781400839360 (e-book)

Mathematics and Sports

Editor: Joseph A. Gallian

Edition: First

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Pages: 342

Price: £25.00

ISBN: 9780883853498

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