The Berkeley Physics Course

This is a two-year elementary college physics course for students majoring in science and engineering. The intention of the writers has been to present elementary physics as far as possible in the way in which it is used by physicists working on the forefront of their field. We have sought to make a course which would vigorously emphasize the foundations of physics. Our specific objectives were to introduce coherently into an elementary curriculum the ideas of special relativity, of quantum physics, and of statistical physics.

The course is intended for any student who has had a physics course in high school. A mathematics course including the calculus should be taken at the same time as this course….

The five volumes of the course as planned will include:

I. Mechanics (Kittel, Knight, Ruderman)

II. Electricity and Magnetism (Purcell)

III. Waves and Oscillations (Crawford)

IV. Quantum Physics (Wichmann)

V. Statistical Physics (Reif)

…The initial course activity led Alan M. Portis to devise a new elementary physics laboratory.

Statistical Physics, Volume 5 of the Berkeley Physics Course, by Frederick Reif.

Preface to Volume V

The last volume of the Berkeley Physics Course is devoted to the study of large-scale (i.e.,macroscopic) systems consisting of many atoms or molecules: thus it provides an introduction to the subjects of statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, thermodynamics, and heat…My aim has been … to adopt a modern point of view and to show, in as systematic and simple a way as possible, how the basic notions of atomic theory lead to a coherent conceptual framework capable of describing and predicting the properties of macroscopic systems.

Electricity and Magnetism, Volume 2 of the Berkeley Physics Course, by Edward Purcell.

Preface to Volume II

The subject of this volume of the Berkeley Physics Course is electricity and magnetism. The sequence of topics, in rough outline, is not unusual: electrostatics; steady currents; magnetic field; electromagnetic induction; electric and magnetic polarization in matter. However, our approach is different from the traditional one. The difference is most conspicuous in Chaps. 5 and 6 where, building on the work of Vol. I, we treat the electric and magnetic fields of moving charges as manifestations of relativity and the invariance of electric charge.

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