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Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems [Hardcover]

Stephen T. Thornton , Jerry B. Marion
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 7, 2003 0534408966 978-0534408961 5
This best-selling classical mechanics text, written for the advanced undergraduate one- or two-semester course, provides a complete account of the classical mechanics of particles, systems of particles, and rigid bodies. Vector calculus is used extensively to explore topics.The Lagrangian formulation of mechanics is introduced early to show its powerful problem solving ability.. Modern notation and terminology are used throughout in support of the text's objective: to facilitate students' transition to advanced physics and the mathematical formalism needed for the quantum theory of physics. CLASSICAL DYNAMICS OF PARTICLES AND SYSTEMS can easily be used for a one- or two-semester course, depending on the instructor's choice of topics.

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Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems + Introduction to Electrodynamics (4th Edition) + Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)
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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent balance of basic and advanced level classical mechanics, ideal for a junior level Physics courses."

"I like the order of topics: the early discussion of linear and non-linear oscillations and the early presentation of Lagrangian/Hamiltonian dynamics. I also like the problems at the end of the chapters."

"Good discussion of classical subjects."

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: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning; 5 edition (July 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0534408966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0534408961
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Below the dashed line is a 5 star review of this book that I wrote 10 years ago. It has been 19 years since I first used this book in college. Over the past couple years I began teaching AP Physics C and its become increasingly clear that this book is either a pedagogical mess or plagiarized from other texts. First its important to say this, if you interested in learning Newtonian mechanics buy Introduction to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow (K&K). The text is a masterpiece and should be required reading and its problems are outstanding, (My AP C students use it for the Mechanics portion of the class). If you want to learn about Hamiltonian Mechanics, use Goldstein, because Marion and Thorton (M&T) just borrow from it anyhow.

The notation in Marion and Thorton tends to get cluttered for no reason whatsoever, for instance read the derivation of the accelerating Atwood. Overall you do not get much of an appreciation for inertial reference frames from the text. Comparing it to the treatment that K&K gives and you quickly realize how inadequate (M&T) is. Another example is rotational dynamics. In many ways I feel like by using M&T for all those years I constrained my understanding of the subject. Now I am not saying that it is useless, I still use it as a reference but it should not be used for Intermediate Mechanics.


I took a mechanics course 9 years ago with an earlier edition, finished undergrad and left the study of physics. Recently I bought a new edition and I have just finished self studying this book and I felt that it's quite excellent. The problems are challenging but that is precisely what I expected.
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51 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Road to Higher Realms December 6, 2003
By A Customer
Whether knowingly or unknowingly, most of the physics text reviews that I have read may be divided into two categories:
- those who loved or hated the book because it was not written to teach physics through a conceptual framework.
- those who loved or hated the book because it was not written to teach physics through the development of skills.
Then the reviews may be divided again into two categories:
- those who loved or hated the book because it conveyed an exclusively classic and/or historical treatment of physics.
- those who loved or hated the book because it conveyed a modern treatments of physics.
Therefore, I will write my review within the same framework that everyone else seems to...
I loved this book because it was written to teach physics through the development of SKILLS; I loved this book because it did so through a CLASSIC TREATMENT of physics.
Now I will explain why...
The study of physics is FAR MORE than an extraction of information from a book, the way that, say, reading an encyclopedia entry is. The study of physics, rather, is a MENTAL DISCIPLINE, that takes 10,000 hours of intensive mental effort just to become a 'fairly skilled beginner', and at least half a lifetime of intensive mental effort to become an expert in just one, very small, sub-sub-field. It is a journey in which one must tavel the same mental footsteps that the great physicists of the past did before one is ready to travel the new and original mental footsteps of their own research activity. Along the way, one must start with easy treatments, must progress through the intermediate treatments, and must one day tackle the tremendously difficult advanced treatments, of every sub-field of study.
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31 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ad tedium September 28, 2003
I came to this course after taking honors freshman physics at Yale with An Intro to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow. And, unfortunately, this book just is not as good. The mathematical derivations are often tedious and uninsightful, a good description as well for many of the problems. In addition, many of the problems, particularly the tougher ones, are already worked out in the text. For me, the text is a combination of mediocre treatment of material with exceptionally poor problems. The problems in this text are, in general, easier than those in K&K, but they often take three times as long to write out. Many of them are exercises in 10th grade algebra, or 12th grade calculus (read: horrible integrals and looong expressions to simplify). What is required is not insight, but exceptional care at not making simple errors and patience for long derivations of often obvious results. For a physics major, this book just seems like a colossal waste of time and money. If you want reinforcement of concepts, turn to Feynman in his lectures. For insightful and challenging mechanics (though Hamiltonian and Lagrangian dynamics are missing), Kleppner and Kolenkow is a far better text.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A shame... April 28, 2006
By Reader
People who read this book carefully will find that many of the examples in the book contain flawed reasoning. The sloppy logic often leads one to understand certain concepts in a wrong way. The book does have lots of long-winded mathematical derivations, but they don't really add to the reader's physical insight. (eg. in chapter 11, some simple linear algebra that can be done in three lines are instead derived in pages of summations and index swap)

This book is a disgrace to the teaching of physics. Its tedious, sometimes illegitimate algebra spoils the elegance of classical mechanics. Compare it with Landau, and you will see the point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but there are better
I enjoyed this text book, I thought it was pretty well written and contained all the information I could need for the course I was taking. Read more
Published 25 days ago by AnomalousEllipse
2.0 out of 5 stars Go with Taylor's text
I am not sure why some faculty like this book so much. I can't find any redeeming qualities about, other than the fact that it has a "Gravity" chapter that Taylor's text... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jack
1.0 out of 5 stars Problematic to the Extreme
This book's chapters are fine, if a bit dry. They're informative, they show some important derivations, and they generally describe classical mechanics with a minimum of fuss. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alchemy
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy
I waited weeks for this book to come and guess what, it wasn't even initially the right books. Does it look like I need to know macroeconomics? No! Read more
Published 9 months ago by arya
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent foundation of classical mechanics
I can't imagine a better text to introduce senior level classical mechanics. It's similar to Fowles and Cassidy but more advanced. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars a good textbook
My professor used this book for my classical mechanics course in the semester that just ended.

My attitudes towards the book change dramatically during the... Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by Corwin
2.0 out of 5 stars Comparable to Climbing Mount Everest Your First Hike
As a third year undergraduate student in EE who has done fairly well with his studies (GPA > 3.0) and almost all of the introductory physics and math courses, this book was like a... Read more
Published on May 4, 2011 by Daniel Greenheck
2.0 out of 5 stars Pedagogical Nightmare
This book would probably be good if you already knew the material...the authors' explanations are often extremely poor. Read more
Published on July 28, 2010 by A. Cordisco
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent semester coming up!
This book is for a course I'm taking in spring. The textbook promises a great semester. The layout is very clean, the many examples are clearly set off from the rest of the text,... Read more
Published on January 9, 2010 by Kayoko Beth Shimmyo
1.0 out of 5 stars We probably need a new area of physics to explain how a book can be so...
Usually a physics book will have some redeeming qualities. Not this one. The examples are often convoluted and the topic discussions are anything but clear. Read more
Published on October 11, 2009 by D. Martin
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