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116 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MIT 8.012 Textbook
Wow, here it is at Amazon.com. The textbook used for "Advanced" freshman physics/mechanics at MIT. I first used Kleppner's book when it was a collection of notes in a binder. It was not for sale at the bookstore; you bought it at the Undergraduate Physics office for, [$$$] I recall.
But here's the real point: this book, and its wonderful set of homework problems, was...
Published on September 2, 2002 by K. Luey

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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for physics professors, not for hobbyists
This text is used for MIT's advanced mechanics course, taught in the fall of the freshman year, sometimes still by Dan Kleppner himself. Historically, about 50% of the students drop out of the course and retreat to one of the other physics variants (which use Young and Freedman, or Halliday, Walker, Resnick, I believe). Yes, that's right, valedictorians and...
Published on June 1, 2004 by Nicholas Homer


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116 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MIT 8.012 Textbook, September 2, 2002
By 
K. Luey (Culver City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Wow, here it is at Amazon.com. The textbook used for "Advanced" freshman physics/mechanics at MIT. I first used Kleppner's book when it was a collection of notes in a binder. It was not for sale at the bookstore; you bought it at the Undergraduate Physics office for, [$$$] I recall.
But here's the real point: this book, and its wonderful set of homework problems, was written for freshman completely and thoroughly trained in differential and integral calculus. After all, mechanics is all about calculus. I have read many science book reviews here at Amazon, and I am getting the impression that there are many well-prepared students out there, and that calculus is a second language by high school graduation. If this is true, then forget Halliday/Resnick. Forget Serway, forget Giancoli. If you know your calculus well (and I mean well) and you take Freshman Physics using those books, you have wasted a perfectly good semester.
It's as simple as this: Does F = ma? Or does F = dP/dt? (Where, of course, F, P and a are vectors.) The problems are, indeed, challenging. They require thinking, reasoning and excellent mathematical skill. They do not simply ask you to draw a force diagram, plug in some masses, resolve some vector components and ask you what the net motion is. From my own personal experience, it is difficult to learn calculus and study this book at the same time. Do your calculus first, and maybe even some differential equations. I think this book is not widely used because it is not easy to ensure that 100% of the class comes in with a good grounding in calculus. That is perhaps why it is sometimes spoken of here as an "honors" level textbook.
I will add that Dan Kleppner and his colleague at MIT, David Pritchard (who taught this course for many years) are excellent scientists and teachers. They are not satisfied with the "tried and true" ways of looking at things, and are always searching for new ways to delve into the subject matter. Thus, you will find this to be an intriguing book, with lots of unique approaches and viewpoints. It is very much worth the effort.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Appropriate for honors physics, July 19, 2004
By 
Paul Heiney (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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I am a college professor who has used this text a number of times for an honors course in freshman physics. Quite simply, it is in a class by itself. Standard physics textbooks (Halliday/Resnick, Serway, Young/Freedman, etc.) are all pretty similar to each other, and pretty good if you are learning calculus at the same time. Then there are mechanics books suitable for junior/senior physics majors, or graduate students. There just isn't anything else in between.
Students, however, uniformly report that they hate the book--they sometimes express this view quite vehemently in course evaluations. Those that find the course valuable tend to view it like a particularly rigorous boot camp--maybe for Green Berets or Navy Seals or something like that--really tough while you are doing it but a deep sense of accomplishment afterwards.
The book is about as non-glossy as you can imagine--no color pictures (or color anything else), no cool pictures of rock climbers or ballet dancers, no warm fuzzies. Just text and equations. But everyone agrees that the homework problems are cool and challenging.
Under no circumstances should you use Kleppner and Kolenkow unless you (or your students if you are the instructor) have completely mastered basic calculus and are moderately comfortable with concepts like multidimensional integration, partial derivatives, and differential equations. And be prepared to work hard.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for physics professors, not for hobbyists, June 1, 2004
By 
Nicholas Homer (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This text is used for MIT's advanced mechanics course, taught in the fall of the freshman year, sometimes still by Dan Kleppner himself. Historically, about 50% of the students drop out of the course and retreat to one of the other physics variants (which use Young and Freedman, or Halliday, Walker, Resnick, I believe). Yes, that's right, valedictorians and overachievers drop left and right out of this course, many citing the text as to abstract and difficult to follow. I understand that many other elite universities have similar classes that use this book with similar results.
Some people have very good things to say about this book. They are the ones who already have a good understanding of classical mechanics and are looking for a rigorous, challenging set of examples and problems. I have found this sort of person to be very much in the minority.
For the majority of people, who are looking to get an intuitive view of mechanics and how they apply to the modern world, I would suggest Halliday, Walker, and Resnick's Fundamentals of Physics instead of this book. But if you really want deep insight into the nature of mechanics (i.e. you're going to teach it someday), run--don't walk--to the bookstore and buy this book today.
On a side note, the E&M portion of the MIT advanced physics series uses Purcell's Electricity and Magnetism, Vol. II. My recommendation would be the same for this book as well: if you love physics and understand it well already, buy the book. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great challenge that's worth it, December 16, 1999
By A Customer
I used this book for my Honors Physics- Mechanics course at UC Berkeley which I took my freshman year. I have never been more challenged intellectually in my entire life. This book covers mechanics at a remarkable depth for a lower division course and really gives you a great understanding of mechanics if you put the hundreds of hours into it which it requires. This is a must for any Physics major, especially one who wants to go on to Grad. School. Although, the book can be very intimidating, the key is to stick with it and be patient and eventually you'll really get it- it's a wonderful feeling. The hard work does pay off.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still the best, October 3, 2001
By A Customer
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This is still the best intro mechanics book. It tries to teach you how the world works. In comparison, most other textbooks are recipe books that show you methods on how to solve important sets of problems but do not really teach physics. Feynman is the exception but is too scattered for use as a textbook. Goldstein gives you more tools but don't explain them. Landau and Lifschitz is very good but does almost everything from path integrals which I believe is not suitable as an intro text. Many people have suggested that the problems are hard. I think the problems are original in trying to teach you physics concepts. Don't use this book if you are trying to satisfy requirements. Don't try to be a physics major if you find this book uninspiring--okay if you find it takes time.

Children of some friends are now using this book in their freshman physics classes. They are not quite ready but they also didn't know high school physics really didn't teach them much physics. So I would suggest that this book is only for folks who have never found calculus or high school physics anything but being taught too slowly. If that person is you then you'll love this book. Don't be dismayed if you don't get it. Half of the kids in 8.012 also found themselves in the wrong class. Oh, and it isn't just for physics majors--it is for someone who really wants to understand how the world works.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book but has its problems, February 10, 2004
As almost every other reviewer already pointed out, this book is challenging; perhaps it's too difficult for freshman level. If you go into this book without having good knowledge of AT LEAST 2 semesters' worth of calculus, you'll have to learn a lot of math along the way. The book almost completely lacks routine excersises, making it a bad choice for self-learning. Also unfortunate is the authors' tendency to introduce important concepts amid lengthy and complicated examples; this lack of structure artificially increases the difficulty of what is already challenging material. I know of at least one flagrant error in the text that has serious implications for the validity of the material presented (chap 7, p.292 - the cross product w x r is evaluated incorrectly).
I believe this book is too advanced for at least 90% of freshman physics courses. A typical community college course, say, would likely be dumbed down far too much for the class to benefit from this book, and a more traditional textbook should be used. Still, the book has unparallelled scope and depth compared to ANY freshman physics text, and is probably the best text there is for classes with students of high ability.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely hard, but rewarding and comprehensive text, August 17, 1999
By A Customer
I borrowed this book form one of my professors at Cal State L.A. to help me prepare for upper-division mechanics. I figured it would be an easy summer read after having mastered Serway's book, but instead it was the most demanding text in any subject I have ever used. Many unique and useful examples not easily found elsewhere are one of this books strengths. Another is the use of polar coordinates, complex numbers, and vector calculus to sove problems. These mathematical tools are usually reserved for upper-level texts. The greatest virtue of this book is its coverage of rotational dynamics. This is a difficult topic to master, especially at the intermediate level, but all is made clear here. There is also a thorough introduction to special relativity. As great as this book is, the problems are mostly in the difficult to very difficult range. To get any benefit from it you have to put in a lot of hours of hard work. It makes Serway, Resnick & Halliday, etc. look like child's play.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, May 7, 2001
By A Customer
First of all - where's the fifth star? Well, since I've encountered this book after studying mechanics, I really can't testify to its value as an introductory book, nor to its internal consistency. So I'll withhold that fifth star. As for the other four - this book is my favorite mechanics book out there, not because it teaches mechanics in some wonderful way, but because of two other reasons: 1. it contains many illustrative examples, which are not to be seen in any other book. These examples help clarify many physical concepts and, well, they're extremely interesting and entertaining in their own right! 2. The problems at the end of each chapter are simply the most thought-provoking and challenging problems I've even encountered. I think no other problems have made me reconsider the mechanics I've learned as much as these have. Hey, some of them remain unsolved to this day! I might also add that this book also offers some parts which are almost never found in other books: 1. an IN-DEPTH discussion of rigid body motion in 3d, and 2. Transformation theory and special relativity. This offers the freshman a chance of studying this key-idea in physics.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building from basic foundations self teach physics, July 6, 2005
So much is lost in reading the multitude of physics books for the "layperson". A true understanding of physics requires not only the ideas of physics but how these ideas are formulated in mathematical terminology and most importantly it's applications.

This text is for the beginner in physics or the physics buff like myself who has no background in the field.

Starting with basic principles, and presupposing highschool math only, the author begins with a study of linear motion in the form of Newton's law reformulating them into the concept of momentum and eventually the work energy theorem and conservation of energy laws. He then adds the complication of extended bodies and center of mass concepts. Rotation is duly added and the appropriate rotational analogs of angular momentum and torque are introduced in an intuitive yet mathematical format using simple vector operations. He starts with fixed axis rotation and then adds linear motion and then considers non-fixed axis rotation adding some tensor concepts as he goes.

Nice examples of fictitious forces are added in non-inertial reference frames concluding with a chapter on special relativity.

A very well written concise and easy to understand intoduction to mechanics. The problems are a requirement for any serious understanding and I suggest attempting at least every other problem. These range from very easy to challenging.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want a deep understanding of mechanics, buy this book, August 17, 2004
I unfortunatley had to use the Serway text in my first year physics course. It really doesn't explain anything well and patrionizes the reader. While this text is extremely difficult, it forces the reader to understand every possible aspect of the subject, while at the same time realizing the power and beauty of calculus. If you are thinking about buying a mechanics book and are serious about really understanding physics, this is really the only text you should get. However, I give it 4 stars because it is NOT an introduction. You will be able to understand the concepts if you did high school physics and first year calculus in my opinion.
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An Introduction to Mechanics
An Introduction to Mechanics by Daniel Kleppner (Hardcover - June 7, 2010)
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