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I want to learn Physics in my own time. I am an electrical engineer, working in the same field and am tremendously interested in Physics. I have heard a lot about the 10 book series of Landau Theoretical physics.

I want guidance to get started with Landau Physics. More specifically, I want help with the following..

  1. What subjects/books/courses should I take as prerequisites (especially in Mathematics?)
  2. What are the best practices while going through such a self-learning course.
  3. Any good resources on Problem sets that I can solve while going through the course.
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closed as not constructive by David Z May 24 '13 at 7:31

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I believe if you're already an electrical engineer you should be good to go and just start –  OmnipresentAbsence May 23 '13 at 16:32
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If you want to learn physics for your own pleasure, I am not sure that Landau is a good idea. –  Peter Kravchuk May 23 '13 at 16:45
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I think that Landau's books are quite hard, especially if you aren't familiar to what he's talking about. You should try for example, Marion and if you feel comfortable with it, Goldstein would be a good option. You could learn mathematics as you need them (I suppose you know most of the differential equations that will appear). After you have a good foundation on Classical Mechanics the next step could be Quantum Mechanics. –  jinawee May 23 '13 at 17:22
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I second all of the above comments. In particular, being an electrical engineer is probably a great start, but the Landau series may not be the smoothest way to go. The Landau series plunges you in at the deep end, as is somewhat outdated. It would probably be a better idea to pick and choose your own texts as you go, getting a feel for which one will be most helpful at each stage. –  Mike May 23 '13 at 20:05
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Possible duplicate: physics.stackexchange.com/q/33222/2451 –  Qmechanic May 23 '13 at 22:06

2 Answers 2

Landau/Lifshitz is simply overkill for getting started in learning physics, especially since you are planning to do this on your own.

In general, you need a book that takes you by the hand and has a lot of worked examples in it. Most physics text books include exercises, but they do not give you worked solutions.

There are some text-books to which instructor solution manuals are available online, if you get what I'm saying. If you really want to learn physics, you need to do physics, i.e. calculate, think, calculate, think, calculate think...

You having an electrical engineering background, I would recommend you get started with electrostatics and electrodynamics, since you can relate and it is always easier to start with something that you can relate to.

A good place to start is this script by Uppsala University on Electrodynamics which has a lot of worked examples in it and is written extremely clear (plus it's free).

A good book to start is Griffiths Electrodynamics, since you can obtain a solution manual for the exercises by asking around and it contains worked examples.

Once you have mastered all of this, you can go on to read Landau/Lifshitz to prove that your are not a sissy ;-). Most of my professors include Landau/Lifshitz in their lecture notes, but when it comes down to really learning something from the scratch, we always go to more modern textbooks.

Concerning the prerequisites to read Landau/Lifshitz, maybe this is helpful:

Landau developed a comprehensive exam called the "Theoretical Minimum" which students were expected to pass before admission to the school. The exam covered all aspects of theoretical physics, and between 1934 and 1961 only 43 candidates passed.

Taken from Wikipedia entry on Landau.

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Personally, I find L/L to be a good reference, i.e. when you need to quickly recall some subject, these books usually have a consice treatment. In other aspects, L/L is pretty outdated, and is a terrible idea for learning from scratch (however, Classical Mechanics and Thermodynamics were ok for me). However, I believe that in the end you have to be able to read first 5 volumes without any problems. –  Peter Kravchuk May 24 '13 at 7:51

If you like video lectures, you might appreciate recordings of Prof. Balakrishnan at IIT Madras. Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics. The course was directed at engineering majors (so your background should be sufficient) and Prof. Balakrishnan is universally loved and acknowledged to be one of the best lecturers.

Of course, there are tons more on the internet, but it's difficult to know if they're good and what background they require. I would also recomment Susskind's lectures at Stanford, meant for a open audience, many of whom are learning physics casually. He has also published a recent book based on those courses, called The theoretical minimum which is well regarded and might be of use to you. Some links (with overlapping information, since I'm just posting the most relevant search results):

  1. http://www.lecture-notes.co.uk/susskind/
  2. http://tedyoung.me/2011/01/22/leonard-susskind-lectures/
  3. http://networkscience.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/eleven-essential-physics-lectures-by-prof-leonard-susskind/
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