- Hardcover: 566 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (November 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521198119
- ISBN-13: 978-0521198110
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Introduction to Mechanics 2nd Edition
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Now brought up to date, this improved second edition is ideal for classical mechanics courses for first- and second-year undergraduates with foundation skills in mathematics. The book retains all the features of the first edition, but with new examples taken from recent developments and a solutions manual for instructors at www.cambridge.org/kandk.
About the Author
Daniel Kleppner is Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For his contributions to teaching he has been awarded the Oersted Medal by the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society. He has also received the Wolf Prize in Physics and the National Medal of Science.
Robert Kolenkow was Associate Professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Renowned for his skills as a teacher, Kolenkow was awarded the Everett Moore Baker Award for Outstanding Teaching.
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Top Customer Reviews
For a long time, I don't think there was any alternative to Kleppner and Kolenkow for a student who really wanted to know the whys and wherefores of freshman mechanics. The big-selling texts like Halliday may carefully derive certain things, but in other cases they just pop an equation onto the page and expect the student to use it without question. Today, however, there are many free, online alternatives to the big-budget commercial texts, and some of these do provide a level of intellectual honesty similar to K&K's. In addition, there is a recent commercial text by Morin that targets the same type of student as K&K.
There are many challenging problems that are of very high quality. The focus of these problems is on symbolic rather than numerical computation.
The book includes many topics that are not typically included in a freshman text, e.g., nutation, the moment of inertia tensor, and relativistic four-vectors.
The book is designed for highly motivated and talented students, at schools with highly selective admissions, who have already taken a rigorous high school physics course, and who have already completed about a year of calculus. It would be a disaster to try to use this book with a less highly selected population.
The book was originally published in 1973. McGraw-Hill kept it in print over the decades, but hiked the price outrageously and showed no interest in bringing out a new edition. Eventually the authors got the rights back from McGraw-Hill, redid the manuscript in LaTeX, made some changes, and published the 2nd edition in 2010 (37 years after the first edition!) through Cambridge University press. Cambridge brought the price way back down, which is great.
The changes made in the second edition are good ones, but they are mostly extremely minimal, and the book still shows its age. There is no discussion of numerical integration of the equations of motion. Attempts are made to help the student check results of symbolic results, e.g., by giving the output for a specific input, but today this would be far better done using open-source computer software such as LON-CAPA. Diagrams show common student lab apparatus from the Sputnik era. (The line art appears to have been redrawn on a computer, but is basically exactly the same.) The book predates essentially all modern pedagogical research in physics, and it does not do any of the things that that research shows can have an impact on common conceptual difficulties.
The book was unusual for first-semester freshman texts of its time in providing a fairly thorough introduction to special relativity. This is especially important if the students are to move on to Purcell's Electricity and Magnetism (also available in a new edition from CUP), which assumes a thorough familiarity with SR. Although the treatment of SR has been updated significantly in the second edition, to my taste it is still dreary and slavishly traditional, and compares poorly with the much nicer and more modern approach used in Morin. K&K still use the relativistic mass convention, which professional relativists stopped using ca. 1950. K&K use Einstein's 1905 axiomatization of special relativity, which to my mind reflects a century-old world-view and would be better replaced with an approach based on symmetry, as in Morin. The examples and the presentation of experimental tests of SR have essentially not been updated since the 1973 edition. For example, the old edition presented the concepts of GPS, which was being developed in the 70s. That was cool for its time, but the new edition merely sticks in the modern acronym GPS into the preexisting text. One important improvement is the elimination of ict from the four-vectors, which at least gives the book more of a feel of having been written after 1950.
The highlights of this text and its first edition are: the mathematical framework that leads the textbook, the proper treatment of the primacy of setting up coordinate systems for dynamics, the subtleties associated with dealing with variable mass systems, Newton's shell theorem, the treatment of the harmonic oscillator and its applications, the expansive treatment of angular momentum as a prerequisite to understanding torque, the thorough treatment of the central force problem and last but not least, the excellent presentation of special relativity that closes the book.
The only thing I believe this text is missing, is the Gauss's Law of gravitation and the potential formulation of gravitation. I think this is important to include because students generally take an introductory E&M class following this class, and it never hurts to introduce students to these topics for gravitation because students tend to have a much better conceptual grasp of the gravitational field than the electric field. Furthermore, Gauss's Law allows students to attack a broader set of problems in gravitation and reformulate Newton's Shell theorem in a much simpler way.
The reason this edition gets 4 stars instead of 5 is because I feel that the second edition was a disappointment. I was hoping for a whole new class of problems, and I figured that after 40 years since the first edition that the authors would have substantially expanded the problem sets, that has not happened.
Another strong point of the first edition was the brief chapter on vector calculus. The authors say in the forward to the teacher that they omitted this material because they felt it was unnecessary and caused too much math anxiety on the part of the students. I feel that it does a disservice to the students, at the very least they should have included and expanded on the material in the Appendix. The reason is that it serves as an excellent introduction to the mathematics necessary for understanding fields.
I still believe that it is worth getting the second edition, because they did clean up the text a bit to make it easier to read and use for students. Furthermore, Cambridge Press deserves credit for making this book and its prior edition affordable. So get it, you might regret it, but in a good way.
The book is pitched at a somewhat higher level than the standard Halliday & Resnick-type texts. It not only provides more sophisticated and interesting problems than these other introductory texts, but it provides a deeper context for the mechanics it teaches. Reading this book will teach you about physics, not just mechanics. It introduces readers to the way physicists think about the world and how they solve problems, topics that are completely absent from nearly every other introductory text I am aware of.
In addition to the more satisfying approach to teaching mechanics, the book is a treasure trove of problems. In fact, many of the problems introduced in the text have become classics that are now used in other books. The text weaves interesting problems into the insightful discussion of the material being introduced in a way that makes the problems part of the text itself, not just "example problems." The end-of-chapter problems are chosen so that each one has an important purpose for the reader; they are not just make-work problems. Anyone who has studied physics knows that it is learned by solving problems, not just reading texts, so there is a premium on having a battery of good problems. This book provides a long list of excellent problems in each chapter.
If you want a book that will provide an introduction to physics, not just mechanics, this is the one for you. It's brilliant.