Introduction to Classical Mechanics

With Problems and Solutions

David Morin

Cambridge University Press

The formal description:

This textbook covers all the standard introductory topics in classical mechanics, including Newton's laws, oscillations, energy, momentum, angular momentum, planetary motion, and special relativity. It also explores more advanced topics, such as normal modes, the Lagrangian method, gyroscopic motion, fictitious forces, 4-vectors, and general relativity. It contains more than 250 problems with detailed solutions so students can easily check their understanding of the topic. There are also over 350 unworked exercises which are ideal for homework assignments. Password protected solutions are available to instructors here. The vast number of problems alone makes it an ideal supplementary text for all levels of undergraduate physics courses in classical mechanics. The text also includes many additional remarks which discuss issues that are often glossed over in other textbooks, and it is thoroughly illustrated with more than 600 figures to help demonstrate key concepts.

The informal description:

Well, folks, after ten years of writing, and after nine years of using successive versions in the Physics 16 (honors freshman mechanics) course at Harvard, my classical mechanics textbook is finally a real live book, published by Cambridge University Press. The title is "Introduction to Classical Mechanics, With Problems and Solutions." And considering what many new books cost nowadays, I'm happy to say that the price is only $80 (or less, depending on whether Amazon, etc. is offering a discount).

The book contains 250 problems (with included solutions) in addition to all the examples in the text, 350 exercises (without included solutions - for homework assignments), 600 figures, and 50 limericks. There are various things that make this book different from other classical mechanics books, but the most obvious is the number (and range of difficulty) of worked problems. I've spent a great deal of time (some people would say too much!) over the past decade thinking up wacky mechanics problems. The cooler ones of that lot have ended up in the book. I've always thought that doing problems is the best way to learn, so if you've been searching for a supply to puzzle over, this should keep you busy for a while!

The Preface to the book, contained here, gives a description of the intended audience. But in a nutshell: I wrote the book for honors freshman mechanics classes. However, it will also work well in sophomore/junior-level mechanics classes. If the more challenging exercises are chosen for homework assignments, there is certainly no issue about the level of the book being high enough (take a look at some of the problems, and you'll see what I mean!). The only issue is that the book might not contain certain topics normally covered in such a class. But a few supplements can easily round things out. (I will post a chapter on the Hamiltonian formalism sometime this summer). At any rate, even if the book doesn't work as the primary text for a given course, it can serve as a fantastic companion "problem book," considering that roughly half of it consists of worked problems. With all the worked examples in the text and crazy problems at the end of each chapter, you really can't go wrong.

At times, the book is a bit lighthearted, with all the limericks and occasional silly comments. But don't let that fool you - there's no fluff in the physics. I get straight to the point, I don't gloss over things, and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty. So if you're a serious physics student who appreciates a little goofiness, then this book is for you. Have a ball.

David Morin