Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Physics references

I've collected a considerable physics reference library over the years. Much of it is portable, either as ebooks or in my Kindle reader. Here's an annotated bibliography. Some items may no longer be available. Many are free downloads, but most of the books are fairly inexpensive and remember that your public library may have any or all of them.

Science Toys


This website by Simon Quellen Field is an excellent source of projects in several fields of science. They are generally inexpensive and use readily available parts, but some require considerable work and assembly time. They are all well explained.

Science Notebook


This website reminds me a lot of the Engineer's notebooks by Forrest Mim's. It's oriented toward children and beginning science explorers - much of the material is very basic, but one of the fascinating things is that they include a library of manuals from old science kits. See how they don't make science kits like they used to.

MIT Opencourseware


You get all the course materials the MIT students get (except the items they have to buy) often including textbooks, lecture notes, and recorded lectures. What you don't get are the credits.

BYU Optics Book

By Justin Peatross and Michael Ware. 

Get the latest edition at https://optics.byu.edu/textbook.aspx

This is the textbook used at Brigham Young University for Optics classes and it delves as far as you might want to go. Expect advanced math.

CK-12 Basic Physics

CK-12 People's Physics Book

CK-12 is an organization that makes quality textbook (kindergarten to high school level) available free. The books can be obtained from dealers like Amazon or in online, interactive format at the CK-12 website: 


There are also several other CK-12 physics textbooks and other learning materials.

Common Equivalents Weight and Measures (https://www.sccgov.org/sites/weights/Pages/Equivalents.aspx) Santa Clara County provided a nice table of weights and measures. Another option is the Google unit converter. Just type "convert" one unit "to" another unit (for instance "convert inches to centimeters") into your browser search bar.

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics

John Rumble, editor in chief

Published by CRC Press

Now in it's 99th edition, this monster tome is useful as a doorstop or weapon, and it also has every table imaginable that a normal person might want for scientific inquiry. New editions are sorta expensive but older editions can be found, especially in college bookstores or online for less than $20, and it's well worth every penny

Forrest Mims library. Remember the Engineer's Notebook series - those tiny paperback books sold at Radio Shack that were loaded with information for electronics hobbyists back in the 70s and 80s? They are still available here


And here


And at Amazon.

Although I will get around to electronics, it's really useful to be able to create your own equipment and these tiny, inexpensive books are just what you need.


Stands for "Free high school science textbook" and it's a Wikibook available here


Fundamental Optics

Published by CVI Melles Griot, this book is the reference of optical information. Find it at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~lah/ay105/pdf/Fundamental-Optics.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjl2KeI5OXkAhVNop4KHbJfAzgQFjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw35Hzf9r7zagQEA6PIKMBhn&cshid=1569201831073

Make:The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

Raymond Barrett and Windell Oskay (2015) published by Maker Media, Inc.

Way back in the 60s Raymond Barrett produced an amazing book that wowed science enthusiasts by showing them how to build things like carbon arc furnaces and cloud chambers. Now you can get an annotated edition created by Windell Oskay. Double wow!

Mathematical Tools for Physics

James Nearing

Available at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~lah/ay105/pdf/Fundamental-Optics.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjl2KeI5OXkAhVNop4KHbJfAzgQFjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw35Hzf9r7zagQEA6PIKMBhn&cshid=1569201831073

This is an extensive university level textbook of mathematics for physicists.

Electrical Engineer's Portable Handbook

Robert B. Hickey

2nd edition (2004). McGraw Hill

Just what it said, it's a reference book for electrical engineers.

Mechanical Engineer's Handbook

Myer Kutz, editor

(2006) John Wiley and sons

Another reference tome, this time for mechanical engineers.

Nuclear Science Merit Badge Handbook

What do you need to know to qualify for a Boy Scout merit badge? Well, first, be a boy scout. Next, check out this site:


And, yes, there are requirements for various fields of physics, but they change, so keep up.


You might notice that I recommend several spreadsheets. If you have the software to read them they can be a lot of help. Several such phone apps are available. The spreadsheets might or might not be online at this writing so, do a search and, if you don't find the one I reference, there's probably an equivalent one somewhere.

Physics Study Guide (Wikipedia website) The Wikipedia offers this concise and extensive college level physics Study Guide at: 


Physics Wikibooks. They also have a wide range of Wikibooks (free textbooks) here:


Schaum's Basic Electricity: Schaum's Outlines are all good - concise, complete, inexpensive, full of solved and unsolved problems, and written by acknowledged experts. What more could you want. A few more of the many titles in physics are….

Schaum's Easy Outlines: College Physics

Schaum's Electronic Devices and Circuits

Schaum's Outline of Optics

Schaum's Outlines: Thermodynamics for Engineers

Schaum's Outline of Theory and Problems of Basic Circuit Analysis

temperature_scales.xls I have one from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://academic.pgcc.edu/~ssinex/excelets/temperature_scales.xls&ved=2ahUKEwjBrMqu6-nkAhWLup4KHYN-B_0QFjAAegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw0ja8Prre4gQB0KuIrW3Xv9&cshid=1569341192825

But similar spreadsheets are all over the Internet.

Turning the World Insideout (1990. Robert Ehrlich. Princeton University Press)

I keep this one with my field guides. The excellent demonstrations are inexpensive, mostly "simple" enough to be portable, and theoretically both deep and well written (understandable). This book is a treasure.

The next two items are user guides for two of my favorite science explorer apps, so see my blog on Physics Tools for more information. Both have great ideas for experiments and demonstrations in all the sciences.

Physics Toolbox Play User's Guide (by APD net and available at www.vieyrasoftware.net )

Getting Started with Google Science Journal. Check out the Google Science Journal website at https://sciencejournal.withgoogle.com/ .

Understanding the Quantum World

The Teaching Company

Erica Carlson

Particle Physics for Nonphysicists

The Teaching Company

Steven Pollock

Physics and Our Universe. 

The Teaching Company

Richard Wolfson

Understanding Modern Electronics

The Teaching Company

Richard Wolfson

And lots more. Frankly, all of the Teaching Company's courses are excellent. They won't get you to the practical level of an engineer, but you'll learn a lot. The presenters are experts in their fields, so the lectures provide very up to date information. Also, the sets are expensive but the Teaching Company places each of them on sale at least once a year so, with some patience, they're quite affordable. And many public libraries carry them.

Check out their website.


Physics can be fascinating and fun as a study or a hobby. Engineering is applied physics so, when you design and build something, you are using your knowledge and skills in physics. Check out the resources in your local library. See what you can find on the Internet. See if physics is for you, and join me next year for adventures in physics.

No comments: