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Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems, 4th Edition 4th Edition

41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0030973024
ISBN-10: 0030973023
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About the Author

Stephen Thornton is Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia. He has over 130 research publications in experimental nuclear physics and has done research at several accelerator facilities in the United States and Europe. He has directed the research for 25 graduate students. He has held two U.S. Senior Fulbright-Hays Fellowships and a Max-Planck Fellowship to do research at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany on two occasions. He was the founding Director of the University of Virginia Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics. He has published three college textbooks for physics: "Classical Dynamics" and "Modern Physics" (both published with Brooks Cole, a part of Cengage Learning), and "Physics for Scientists and Engineers." He is currently Director of the Master of Arts in Physics Education program at the University of Virginia, which has graduated more than 70 high school physics teachers. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of several organizations including American Association of Physics Teachers, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Science Teachers Association, Virginia Association of Science Teachers (past President), and the Virginia Math and Science Coalition. He has developed multiple courses for undergraduate students and high school physics teachers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 638 pages
  • Publisher: Saunders College Publications; 4 edition (January 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0030973023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0030973024
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Pros:
The Hamiltonian and Lagrangian sections were well-explained.
Good intro to mathematical formalism/style used in higher level courses. Notation a little clunky though. No use whining about the Math; just get used to it if you want your degree and graduate school.
Problems were interesting & challenging, but will kill newbies... more on that below.
Cons:
The other sections were so-so. Very often I could not see the forest for the trees. Initiates need some kind of context/background to fit the various topics together and with what they already know.
It's not readily obvious that intuition is just as important as analysis in Dynamics problem-solving--no advice given in this respect. Caused me to use up too much time trying to crack a problem when my approach was unsuitable in the first place.
Examples did not help in solving the problems; often felt like I was thrown into the deep end of the pool before I could swim.
Try Schaum's Outlines, Landau, Goldstein as well. Feynmann's Lectures give some background.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm taking physics 105 at UC Berkeley and we're using Marion and Thornton in my class. I like using the book as a reference, but I think that each chapter does a poor job of explaining how to solve the problems that appear in the end of each chapter. There are also very few simple problems in the book that allow one to become used to using new methods (like hamiltonian mechanics, and the use of lagrangians) before using them to solve difficult problems. I would reccommend another mechanics book such as "Mechanics" by Landau and Lifschitz or "Mechanics" by Symon. Unless you have an excellent instructor, Marion and Thronton is not very much fun to use.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Why is everyone complaining about the mathematical formalism in this text? While perhaps such formalism requires a certain level of mathematical maturity on the part of the reader, it does *not* detract from pedagogy. In my opinion, it is better to become used to such formalism in the context of classical dynamics, where intuition can be of great help, than later on, and please, calculus and linear algebra is all that's required! It's not *that* formal!
I'd also like to say that the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian sections present one of the more lucid explanations that I have seen.
Finally, no, the author does not give you an example problem and then ask you to do the same problem with different numbers at the end of the chapter--he assumes you could do that. If you can't read a book that doesn't have such trivial problems for you to work, perhaps you should go elsewhere. The problems in this book are often challenging, and require you to extrapolate from the previous chapters. I find such problems more interesting than ones that require you to only look back in the chapter, grab two equations, eliminate one variable, and then plug in numbers. I'm not sure why everyone has jumped on the "the problems aren't worded well" bandwagon either, as I have encountered very little ambiguity throughout this book. If you want to master classical dynamics, this isn't the only book you'll want to work through, but it certainly should be on your list.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I had to use this poorly written, overpriced book for my course at Cal State L.A. There are insufficient examples, some of which are confusing, and the binding seems to have been deliberately designed to fall apart after a few months (to limit the used market?). The problems sets are sorely lacking in imagination and, as others have noted, poorly worded. I would recommend the Schaum's outline in theoretical mechanics by Murray Spiegel. It is inexpensive and contains a wealth of good examples. When you finally get to sell back Marion at the end of the course , you will still have a good reference on intermediate mechanics and won't feel as bad about the money you lost on M&T.
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43 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
(Disclaimer: All my criticisms are directed against Stephen Thornton, who prepared this edition when Marion died. I haven't seriously examined the earlier editions.)
Let it not be said that this book is utterly without virtue. It does have a good store of challenging, interesting problems. Also, the introductory chapter includes a unique (for this level) discussion of the Levi-Civita notation, which is great for managing complicated expressions in vector and tensor analysis (if you're currently taking junior or senior E&M, use this if your teacher asks you to verify all those crazy vector identities on the inside cover of your book!). But beyond this, I can see no redeeming virtues. In a genre which is littered with astoundingly bad books, this book is a standout, and is among the "hated classics" like Reif's statistical mechanics book or J.D. Jackson's E&M book. But even those books, which are admittedly overly-difficult and often obtuse, do contain a lot of quality thought and valuable knowledge. A good book, when re-read, will reveal greater and greater depths of insight and knowledge.
But rereading this book only revealed greater levels of sloppy thought. Only the more elementary derivations are comprehensible; the rest are befuddling, and I found that I had to write my own derivations and look up alternatives because the examples were either unconvincing, incomprehensible, or seemed to be based on incorrect physical reasoning. Ironically, I found that this book improved my confidence in mechanics because I had to spend so much time trying to compensate for the enormous failings logic, calculation, and pedagogy. But I'd still give it zero stars if I could.
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