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I am looking for some good physics book(s) which shows the development of physics ideas from antiquity since 1850 or 1900 or something like that.

The book should covers all "elementary" topics (Quantum Mechanics/more advanced topics etc are not needed) i.e those which are taught at high school senior/beginning college first year topic (ie mechanics, thermodynamics, introductory electrodynamics, optics and bunch of small topics) . Also, note that I will use the book to read alongside (and occasionally to supplement) Halliday and Resnick, so I am not looking for books with pop sci etc, books with actual mathematical contents are appreciated.

For an example what I'm looking: History of mechanics by Ernst Mach almost fits, but I don't like two aspects of it (it's way too terse, and honestly I don't have the time to read ~600 page on just the history of mechanics, something like ~100 pages at max would be okay)

Since this will be a community wiki soon (I have flagged it to make it), please recommend one book per post, so votes have some meaning. Also there is a bit of confusion below, I'm not looking for books just on the history of mechanics, I am looking for all other topics too.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that this question is not a dupe of this question, although that have a somewhat similar motive, that asks for QM books. $\endgroup$ – cdt Mar 27 '18 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ See History of physics: Further reading: a small bibliography. For example: Jed Buchwald and Robert Fox, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Mar 27 '18 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ More detailed, the multi-volume Cambridge History of Science. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Mar 27 '18 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I remember the Segrè books (on the list Mauro linked) as especially good. $\endgroup$ – Francois Ziegler Mar 27 '18 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ @MauroALLEGRANZA Please do not post answers in the comments. I suggest you turn your suggestions into (three separate) answers. $\endgroup$ – Danu Apr 2 '18 at 14:29
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I would recommend

  • René Dugas, A History of Mechanics, trans. John Royden Maddox.
    • GoodReads reviews
    • Monumental study traces the history of mechanical principles chronologically from their earliest roots in antiquity through the Middle Ages to the revolutions in relativistic mechanics and wave and quantum mechanics of the early 20th century. Contributions of ancient Greeks, Leonardo, Galileo, Kepler, Lagrange, many other important figures. 116 black-and-white illustrations.

It starts with Hellenistic mechanics and ends with quantum mechanics.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Do you have any recommendations for the other topics I mentioned (classical optics, electragnetism, thermo) ? $\endgroup$ – cdt Mar 28 '18 at 2:01
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For electromagnetism:

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  • $\begingroup$ Please add something regarding the reason for recommending this specific source, so that your answer will be more useful for people trying to make their own decision. $\endgroup$ – Danu Apr 2 '18 at 14:30
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For thermodynamics:

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  • $\begingroup$ Please add something regarding the reason for recommending this specific source, so that your answer will be more useful for people trying to make their own decision. $\endgroup$ – Danu Apr 2 '18 at 14:30
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I highly recommend the book The mechanical universe: heat and mechanics, advanced edition written by Steven Frautschi, Tom Aposlot, Richard Olenick and David Goodstein. (Pick the advanced edition)

The book uses a historical approach to teach you elementary physics and how to think scientifically, instead of hard core problem solving and the math.

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On optics, you can add to the list above :

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On mechanics, a recent book is:

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