I'm trying to amass a list of physics books with open-source licenses, like Creative Commons, GPL, etc. The books can be about a particular field in physics or about physics in general.

What are some freely available great physics books on the Internet? edit: I'm aware that there are tons of freely available lecture notes online. Still, it'd be nice to be able to know the best available free resources around.

As a starter: http://www.phys.uu.nl/~thooft/theorist.html

jump to list sorted by medium / type

Table of contents sorted by field (in alphabetical order):

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24 Answers 24

up vote 38 down vote accepted


Galileo and Einstein very interesting book, 200 pages, by Michael Fowler , Text for Physics 109, Fall 2009 (from Babylonians and Greeks to Einstein)

Physics Made Easy Karura notes

Classical and quantum mechanics via Lie algebras by Arnold Neumaier, Dennis Westra , 502 pages, (arxiv)

by Hans de Vries: 'Physics Quest' Understanding Relativistic Quantum Field Theory
- I love this 'book in progress' to understand Special Relativity, and beyond. To see how a real Lorentz contraction do happen (ch. 4) and how magnetic field is induced by electrostactic field and Non-simultaneity (it is like a Coriollis effect)

by Benjamin Crowell: 'Light and Matter' - General Relativity
explore other physics topics here http://www.lightandmatter.com/

by Bo Thidé: Electromagnetic Field Theory - advanced Electrodynamics textbook

Elecromagnetic Fields and Energy MIT Hypermedia Teaching Facility, by Herman A. Haus and James R. Melcher (with media)

HyperPhysics - everything, in short.

the physics hypertextbook detailed online book, very interesting Work in Progress.

Relativity - The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (1920)

Feynman Lectures (pdfs) (final index)

Wikipedia Physics a portal to start digging. A colaborative gigantic work.

WikiBooks -SR a textbook on Relativity.

WikiSource - Relativity Portal find here "The Measure of Time" by Henri Poincaré and many other original sources.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy a plethora of info related to physics (for ex. singularities)

The Physics of Waves by HOWARD GEORGI of Harvard
The Physics of Ocean Waves (for physicists and surfers), by Michael Twardos at UCI
Photonics - The Basics and Applications 92 pages , University of Pennsylvania
Photonic Crystals: Molding the Flow of Light 305 pages, Joannopoulos et al, Princeton Univ Press
Computational Genomics Algorithms in Molecular Biology, Lecture notes by Ron Shamir (pdfs)

Motion Mountain by Christoph Schiller

Journals open access and online collections


Directory of Open Access Journals free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals (6286, been 2735 searchable at article level)

MathPages - lectures on various subjects in physics and mathematics.

livingreviews journal articles by invitaton on relativity and beyond

livingreviews blog about the journal articles

Calphysics research on the electromagnetic quantum vacuum (with care, controversial material)

MIT - OpenCourseWare Several courses available
MIT OCW fundamentals-of-photonics-quantum-electronics download pdfs

Sources to use with precaution


ARXIV door to papers that I cannot afford (sometimes good ideas) -- Cornell univ controlled
I follow this archive thru this MIT's blog The Physics arXiv Blog

VIXRA free to post the ugly, the bad, the crazy, and sometimes good ideas
Independent researchers can publish here. The arXiv is usually closed to authors without academic affiliation.


Archive.org Access to a world of original digitized books, and much more.
NASA ADS Absctract Data Service search
Scribd - a generic social publishing site where I find books (scientific/technical) with full or partial access.
scholar.google.com from the giant that is changing the observable universe of Human beings
Cosmos Portal from Digital Library
Encyclopedia of Earth from Digital Library
NanoHub - A resource for nanoscience and technology


youtube Berkeley Chanel with courses

Richard Feynman - Science Videos - 4 original videos (recorded at Auckland) arguably the greatest science lecturer ever.

Videos for Shiraz's lectures on String Theory

Leonard Susskind - Modern Theoretical Physics from his "physics for everyone" blog

Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics NanoHub - Lectures (Purdue Univ ref. ECE 495N) including Lecture 10: Shrödinger's Equation in 3-D (mp4)


Multivariable calculus and vector analysis A set of on-line readings (Interactive click and drag with LiveGraphics3D) ; explore tab Topics

KhanAcademy (videos) mission: to deliver a world-class education to anyone anywhere

Math and physics online tools:

Online Latex Equation Editor (right click the result and apply anywhere)
wolframalpha - computational knowledge engine, do you want to calculate or know about?
sage online - support a viable open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica, and MATLAB.
Euler Math Toolbox free software for numerical and for symbolic computations
geogebra - Free mathematics software for learning and teaching

Modeling and simulation

OpenModelica Physical modeling and simulation environment
Elmer Open Source Finite Element Software for Multiphysical Problems (examples)
Mason Multiagent based simulation (IA)
ECJ Evolutionary Computation (IA)
Breve A 3d Simulation Environment for Multi-Agent Simulations and Artificial Life (IA)
NanoHub-Periodic Potential Lab solves the time independent Schroedinger Equation in a 1-D spatial potential variation

demonstrations.wolfram 7050 applets

Astronomy and astrophysics

Books and reviews

Cosmology today-A brief review (arxiv 2011) This is a brief review of the standard model of cosmology. We first introduce the FRW models and their flat solutions for energy fluids playing an important role in the dynamics at different epochs. We then introduce different cosmological lengths and some of their applications. The later part is dedicated to the physical processes and concepts necessary to understand the early and very early Universe and observations of it.

review of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) (arxiv 2008)


astro-canada Introduction to astronomy, light, instruments, etc.


simbad search data on celestial bodies with the proper tools.
NASA PDS: The Planetary Data System data related to Nasa missions

Sky viewers

Skyview , Nasa SkyView is a Virtual Observatory on the Net
WWT World Wide Telescope, Microsoft

Simulation and presentations

Celestia free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions.
astrolab presentations_astronomiques (FR)

Other resources

Kirk McDonald page at Princeton.edu a handful of resources on EM,QED,QM (+-5Gb ;-)

Springerlink's LaTeXsearch you can search articles by using latex formulas input

  • I will use this question, and my post, as an ongoing list of resources, books and other material, that are accessible in the net, irrespective of the license. – Helder Velez Mar 5 '11 at 14:21
  • My list is not mine it can be improved by anyone. – Helder Velez Mar 10 '11 at 17:30
  • American Journal of Physics Resource Letters is not open access and imo it shoud not be listed. – Helder Velez Mar 14 '11 at 19:09
  • 1
    I asked in meta with 2 answers. The better I think is to make the OP a table of contents that link to others posts (to be) separated by subjects. I invited everyone to add in this post because it is simpler to organize in the future by spliting it. – Helder Velez Mar 28 '11 at 9:27
  • 1
    The second link (Quantum Mechanics For Advanced Beginners. R. Golub and R. Ince) is dead, so it should probably be removed or replaced by a working link. – Dalker Mar 30 '12 at 5:26

Quantum field theory

Fields, by W. Siegel

Quantum Field Theory, by Mark Srednicki

Superspace, or One thousand and one lessons in supersymmetry by S.J. Gates Jr, M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek and W. Siegel

  • 2
    The first two parts of Srednicki's book are also on the arXiv: Spin 0, Spin 1/2. – Simon Mar 1 '11 at 7:17

Mathematical Tools for Physics, James Nearing

Also available in paperback from Dover. Undergraduate-level math methods book. Clear writing, many problems and exercises (usually without solution). IMHO better than Boas.

Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics Sussman, Wisdom, Mayer

A No-Nonsense Introduction to General Relativity, Sean Carroll

  • Sean Carroll: also available on arxiv arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9712019 – pcr Mar 2 '11 at 7:08
  • 1
    SICM style, differential geometry groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/gjs/6946/calculus.pdf – pcr Mar 2 '11 at 20:46
  • Can anyone who has read this book tell us what does it have in common with SICP? Just a great title or does the analogy go deeper? I don't believe they use Scheme to teach classical mechanics, but still... :) – Marek Mar 18 '11 at 18:37
  • @Marek Well, it at least shares an author (I haven't read the book, though). – Mark Eichenlaub Mar 28 '11 at 3:58
  • @Marek Yes, they use Scheme to teach classical mechanics. – dfan Jan 4 '12 at 14:41

Applications of Classical Physics, Kip Thorne and Roger Blandford

Unpublished so far, this book covers special relativity, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, continuum mechanics, and some general relativity at the graduate level. I've read about a third of it. It's well-written and surprisingly-polished for being a freely-available preprint.

Problem sets and solutions are available on the website as well.

The art of computational science, Piet Hut and Jun Makino

A computational lab for N-body experiments. Includes books and source code for doing simple N-body simulations.

Fitzpatrick's The Physics of Plasmas is excellent. He also has notes on Classical Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, and more, but I'm less familiar with these works.

Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan

Short book covering dimensional analysis, estimation, and visualizing mathematics. The goal is to make mathematics easier and more useful for scientists and engineers, specifically physicists. (Mahajan is a physicist/educator). Uses mostly undergrad and high school level math.

A version is available free as a pdf under the creative commons license.

The paper version is available for purchase from the MIT press.

  • @David Don't be ridiculous. The PDF is free. The point is to make a list of resources people can access for free. Do you think that fact that it's possible to get a paper version makes the PDF less-informative? – Mark Eichenlaub Mar 28 '11 at 3:29
  • I've updated your answer with a link to the free pdf download. Nice book. – David LeBauer Mar 28 '11 at 3:36

Howard Georgi's The Physics of Waves

I wish someone would make the (now mostly out of print) Berkeley Physics Course volumes public domain. Or at least Dover could start cranking out cheap versions.

Making, probing and understanding ultracold Fermi gases

"A review on superfluidity and the BEC-BCS crossover in ultracold Fermi gases."

Wolfgang Ketterle (Nobel 2001), Martin W. Zwierlein

The FreeScience website links to a large listing of free books on a wide range of physics, math, and other fields of science.

Photonic Crystals: Molding the Flow of Light second edition


A nice set of books have been made available through project Gutenberg, are made available through the Open Ebooks Library, including:

Handbook of Formula and Physical constants

Space, Time and Gravitation - An Outline of the General Relativity Theory, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (beware of this book)

Relativity : the Special and General Theory, Albert Einstein

Quantum Mechanics for Engineers

I stumbled across this book the other day when I was looking for a text on nuclear physics. It seems like a handy resource.

To quote the preface:
The book was primarily written for engineering graduate students who find themselves caught up in nano technology. It is a simple fact that the typical engineering education does not provide anywhere close to the amount of physics you will need to make sense out of the literature of your field. You can start from scratch as an undergraduate in the physics department, or you can read this book.

Two freely available stellar physics books by George W. Collins II:

Someone has mentioned the archive.org.

I have found Landau's Course of Theoretical Physics there, without Volumes 4 and 9.

You can also get Feynman's book on Quantum Electrodynamics there.

  • very interesting. legal free online classic books. – pcr Sep 17 '12 at 6:25

The OpenStax College Physics text looks promising as a low-level introduction to the subject (algebra-based).

Meanwhile, looking at the other list(s) here, is it really true that Feynman's lectures (and QED) are legally available online for free today? I have serious doubts about that. Has anyone yet made an effort to go through this list and verify the legality (let alone "openness") of the resources linked?

I am a big fan of David Tong's lecture notes on Relativity, Classical Mechanics, QFT, Stat Mech, Soitons, String Theory and Kinetic theory available free.


I had learned classical mechanics first time as an undergrad from his notes, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The notes on QFT are also excellent to prep you for things like Peskin & Schroeder.

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