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I'm a retired police officer trying to learn classical mechanics on my own. I have gone through many links on the Internet including the classical mechanics quick reference textbooks from Physics Stack Exchange. But, I always have the same problem just as anyone trying to learn classical mechanics on his/her own has had the experience of "going down the Classical Mechanics Rabbit Hole".
It turns out that only classical mechanics is the most difficult part of physics to learn on ones own. I had a friend who confirmed this by comparing how difficult it is to learn classical mechanics (including Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation) on his own with electrodynamics and general relativity. (Who are much much more difficult that all the field of CM)
For example, suppose you come across the novel term vector space, and want to learn more about it. You look up various definitions, and they all refer to something called a field. So now you're off to learn what a field is, but it's the same story all over again: all the definitions you find refer to something called a group. Off to learn about what a group is. Ad infinitum. That's what I'm calling here "to go down the Math Rabbit Hole."
For example, I had lot of difficulties with the book "An Introduction to Mechanics" by Daniel Kleppner, Robert J. Kolenkow, which seemed according to many views to be an easy approach toward Newtonian and relativistic mechanics. The authors in general only and quickly pushes equations in my front without giving any reason for why a certain procedure is correct, and give no explanation on most of the things. I had then one choice: search on the net. But when I do, to search for a term X, I get to wikipedia page X, who give a definition that contains another term Y, where I click to understand the full meaning of term X, but who then contain another term Z, who redirects to... which leaves me with no understanding.
Another thing is that when I go here on Physics Stack Exchange, and when I see answers like:
- and many many others... (like an answer by David Z for a question that kinda looks like: 'Would a heavier object fall faster because they attract earth stronger', I have no idea where he found the equations he wrote down. Also in many applied physics questions and answers by Lubos Motl. And in some questions: like: 'Why Newton's third law apply to all inertial frame?' I have no idea about that even if I already learn a lot from Daniel's book.)
I don't know where those guys got all that stuff. I feel like: Mechanics is not well organized. For example, in relativity we first learn about Galilean relativity, then special relativity then general relativity. Everything is in order and it makes of the understanding a lot smoother. (according to my friend) But in classical mechanics I don't know where to start or what to pick.
In Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics book, it is even worse.
Result? I fail to correctly answer some basic questions like: what happens when a cup of water starts to melt? or even more easy physics questions.
So I'm searching for a clear textbook that explains Newtonian mechanics well, then goes to special relativity, then to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics.
My dream for the next years of my life is to understand mechanics: Newtonian, SR, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian. And to start writing a web page about explanations of different phenomena like John Baez this week on mathematical physics. And maybe to do research on problems in classical physics which would make of me the most happy man in the world.
Regards. Thanks for your understanding and time. My situation is similar to this guy
My background: I'm very old, so I forgot almost all the math/physics I've got in school, however, I've taken courses on Algebra, trigonometry and single variable calculus using KhanAcademy and some MIT videos. I've taken an MIT test on CalcI (just downloading the test online and verifying the solutions) and I scored 90%.