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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Physics Textbooks

see science. philosophy of physics, physics

College Physics (5th Edition) by Jerry D. Wilson, Anthony J. Buffa and Bo Lou (Prentice Hall) the authors believe that there are two basic goals in any introductory physics course: (1) to impart an understanding of the basic concepts of physics and (2) to enable stu­dents to use these concepts to solve a variety of problems.

These goals are linked. The result detailed below is one of the better introductory texts for a practical utilitarian understanding of physics in our lives today.

Research in physics education has shown that a surprising number of stu­dents who learn to solve typical problems well enough to pass examinations do so without ever arriving at a real understanding of the most elementary physical concepts. Simply put, they can solve quantitative problems and get the right an­swer, but they do not know why it is right. In addition, students often do not check their numerical answer to see if it matches their understanding of the rele­vant physical concept.

The goals for the Fifth Edition of this text are simple, yet challenging. The authors identified areas in need of improvement and made efforts to further enhance the strengths of the book. These include:

Conceptual Basis. Giving students a secure grasp of physical principles will almost invariably enhance their problem‑solving abilities. Central to this thesis is an approach to the development of problem‑solving skills that stresses an understanding of basic concepts, rather than the mechanical and rote use of equations, as the essential foundation. Throughout the writing of College Physics, they organized discussions and incorporated pedagogical tools to ensure that conceptual insight drives the development of practical skills.

Concise Coverage. To maintain a sharp focus on essential concepts, a textbook should emphasize the basics and minimize superfluous material. In College Physics, topics of marginal interest have been avoided, as have those that present formal or mathematical difficulties for students. Similarly, they did not waste space on deriving relationships when they shed no additional light on the principle involved. It is usually more important for students in a introductory course such as College Physics is geared toward to understand what a relationship means and how it can be used, rather than the mathematical or analytical techniques employed to derive it.

Applications. College Physics is known for the strong mix of applications related to medicine, science, technology, architecture, and everyday life in its text narrative and Insight boxes. While the Fifth Edition continues to have a wider range of applications than do most texts, the authors also increased the number of biological applications, in recognition of the high percentage of premed and allied health majors who take the course for which it is used. Some examples of topics discussed in biology‑oriented Insights are nanotechnology, weightlessness and its effects on the human body, the physics of ear popping, desirable and undesirable resonance, body‑fat analysis, cornea surgery, and bioengineering.
Learn by Drawing Boxes. Visualization is one of the most important problem‑solving tools in physics. In many cases, if students can make a sketch of a problem, they can solve it. "Learn by Drawing" features offer students specific help on making certain types of sketches and graphs that will provide key insights into a variety of physical situations

Integrated Learning Objectives. Specific learning objectives, located at the beginning of each chapter section, help students struc­ture their reading and facilitate review of the material.

Suggested Problem‑Solving Procedure. An extensive section provides a framework for thinking about problem solving. This section includes: An overview of problem‑solving strategies; a seven‑step procedure that is general enough to apply to most problems in physics, but is easily used in specific

situations; three Examples that illustrate the de­tailed problem‑solving process, show­ing how the general procedure is applied in practice.

Problem‑Solving Strategies and Hints. The initial treatment of prob­lem solving is followed up throughout College Physics with an abundance of suggestions, tips, cautions, shortcuts, and useful techniques for solving specific kinds of problems. These strategies and hints help students apply general principles to specific contexts, as well as avoid common pitfalls and misunderstandings.

Conceptual Examples. College Physics was among the first physics texts to in­clude examples that are conceptual in nature, in addition to quantitative ones. The Conceptual Examples ask students to think about a physical situation and choose the correct prediction out of a set of possible outcomes, on the basis of an understand­ing of relevant principles. The discussion that follows ("Reasoning and Answer") explains clearly how the correct answer can be identified, as well as why the other answers are wrong.

Worked Examples. We have tried to make the solutions to in‑text Examples as clear and detailed as possible. The aim is not merely to show students which equations to use, but to explain the strategy being employed and the role of each step in the overall plan. Students are encouraged to learn the "why" of each step along with the "how." This technique will make it easier for students to apply the demonstrated techniques to other problems that are not identical in structure. Each worked Example also includes the following:

Thinking It Through Step. This section, which follows the statement of the problem and precedes the solution, focuses students on the critical thinking and analysis they should undertake before beginning to use equations.

Follow‑up Exercise. The Follow‑up Exercise at the end of each Conceptual Example and each regular worked Example further reinforces the impor­tance of conceptual understanding and offers additional practice. Integration of Conceptual and Quantitative Exercises. To help break down the artificial barrier between conceptual questions and quantitative problems, we do not separate these categories in the end‑of‑chapter exercises. Instead, each section begins with a series of multiple‑choice and short‑answer questions that provide review of the chapter's content, test students' conceptual understanding, and ask students to reason from principles. The aim is to show students that the same kind of conceptual insight is required regardless of whether the desired answer involves words, equations, or numbers. The conceptual questions are marked by a bold CQ in the text for easy reference when assigning questions. College Physics offers short answers to all odd‑numbered conceptual questions (as well as to all odd-numbered quantitative problems) at the back of the text, so that students can check their understanding of those problems.

Paired Exercises. Most numbered sections include at least one set of paired Exercises that deal with similar situations. The first problem in a pair is solved in the Student Study Guide and Solutions Manual; the second problem, which explores a similar situation to that presented in the first problem, has only an answer at the back of the book, thereby encouraging students to work out the problem on their own.

Additional Exercises. Each chapter includes a supplemental section of Additional Exercises drawn from all sections of the chapter, to ensure that students can synthesize concepts.

New features to the Fifth Edition include the following:

Physlet ® Illustrations. Physlet ® Illustrations are short Java applets that clearly illustrate, through animation, a concept from the text. Available on the Wilson/Buffa Companion Web site, Physlet° Illustrations are followed by a series of questions that ask students to think critically about the concept at hand. Physlet ® Illustrations are denoted by an icon in the margin of the text.

Integrated Examples. In order to further emphasize the connection between conceptual understanding and quantitative problem‑solving, we have developed Integrated Examples for each chapter. These Examples work through a physical situation both qualitatively and quantitatively Integrated Examples demonstrate how conceptual understanding and numerical calculations go hand in hand in understanding and solving problems.

Integrated Exercises. Like the Integrated Examples in the chapter, Integrated Exercises ask students to solve a problem quantitatively as well as answer a conceptual question dealing with the Exercise. By answering both parts, students can see if their numerical answer matches their conceptual understanding.

Figure Reference Icon. In the Fifth Edition, we have placed an arrow next to each in‑text figure reference as well as next to each figure caption. These "placeholders" point the student in the direction of the appropriate figure and are easily located when the student returns to the sentence.

Chapter Review. The Important Concepts and Equations section is integrated into the new Chapter Review section of each chapter. Key concepts are in bold and defined in words as well as symbolically. This new format provides a quick study reference for students.

The Fifth Edition is supplemented by a state‑of‑the‑art Media and Print Ancillary package developed to address the needs of both students and instructors.

Companion Web Site. The Web site (http://www.prenhall.com/wilson), which hosts contributions from leaders in physics education research, provides students with a variety of interactive explorations of each chapter's topics, easily accommodating differences in learning styles.


Physics: Concents and Connections by Art Hobson (Prentice Hall) is for all those who desire to better understand the universe and their role in it, and especially for those who want to make a difference in our planet's future. It is written in nontechnical language for students whose careers will probably lie outside the sciences, but it is also for scientists and others striving to understand nature's ways and her connections to our lives. Thus, this is not a watered‑down version of the standard physics textbooks for scientists. It presents physics as a human endeavor in its full philosophical and social context.

Many groups' have recommended new approaches to science education and science literacy. This book reflects these recommendations in several ways:

Scientific literacy. This book addresses the values, philosophical meaning, and societal impact of science, and stresses the scientific approach to knowledge.

Modern view of the universe. Fully half of this book is devoted to relativity, quantum theory, nuclear physics, quantum fields, and other post‑Newtonian and contemporary topics. I

Societal connections. This book includes such physics‑related societal topics as ozone depletion, global warming, technological risk, energy resources, nu­clear power, nuclear weapons, and pseudoscience.

Interactive learning. Research in physics education has shown the importance of interactive engagement in student learning. This book engages students through frequent quick "Concept Checks" within each chapter, "How Do We Know?" subsections, a choice of topics that is relevant to student needs and interests, and a style that focuses on understanding rather than techni­calities.

A conceptual approach, with appropriate quantitative skills. Physics educa­tion research has shown the importance of explicitly focusing on the meaning of physics. For nonscientists, there is no need to learn algebra­based problem‑solving techniques. On the other hand, quantitative meas­urement and tools such as graphs, probabilities, estimates, and powers of 10

are important for everyone. Thus the text is conceptual and numerate, but nonalgebraic. Algebra‑based problems are, however, included in most chap­ters for those classes in which they are appropriate.

Less is more. This book presents most of the great ideas of physics, but omits many "classical" topics normally included in introductory courses. Many studies have found that it is a mistake to present all of the traditional topics in one course. Depth is preferable to encyclopedic breadth, especially if the course is to move beyond nineteenth‑century physics.

Unifying themes. Four recurrent story lines, discussed below, unify the pres­entation and represent the book's pedagogical goals.

The first and foremost story line is how we know in science. Science is much more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of knowing‑a process for proposing, disposing, testing, and refining ideas. The notion that knowledge comes from ex­perience and is subject to testing by observation and rational thought is science's most basic value‑and probably its most important benefit. Thus "how do we know" dominates Chapter 1 and is the book's constant refrain.

The second theme is the significance of post‑Newtonian physics. "Modern" physics (physics since 1900) reveals a universe of fields and energy structured ac­cording to relativity and quantum theory, a universe vastly different from older theories of indestructible particles in precise and predictable motion. Our culture still lives in the Newtonian age, while science has moved far beyond it. So it is im­portant, especially for liberal‑arts students, to treat modern physics in depth.

Energy, the book's central physical concept, forms the third recurrent theme. From the fall of a pebble, to nuclear processes, to the evolution of the universe, the principles of energy provide a wonderfully unified view of natural processes. Furthermore, many science‑related societal issues are connected with uses and misuses of energy. I hope that readers will develop a habit of viewing all processes as transformations of energy and will perceive, in those processes, the great laws of energy.

The final theme is the social context of physics. The power conferred by science demands great responsibility from each of us including you, dear reader. Science is too important to be left to the scientists. This is why I have written this book. It is written for you, the teachers, poets, politicians, business people, and others who must help pull us through the challenges of the scientific age. Each societal topic is not merely added on, but is instead integrated by presenting it right after the relevant physics. For example, global warming appears in Chapter 9 right after electromagnetic radiation and following earlier prerequisite discussions of atoms (Chapter 2), energy (Chapter 6), and light (Chapter 8).

You will find many learning aids in every chapter:

Marginal quotations provide a range of views to lend perspective and depth. Please don't assume that I agree, or that the scientific community agrees, with each and every quotation!

Footnotes provide additional details for readers who want them. It is difficult to write accurately while not burdening students with excessive details. Footnotes are one way to handle such situations.

Concept Checks probe the reader's understanding about a dozen times in each chapter. Readers should respond to each of these before checking the an­swer at the end of the chapter. Instructors might want to use these questions interactively in the classroom.

How Do We Know? subsections appear regularly. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that scientists have evidence for their conclusions.

Making estimates is one skill that this book seeks to develop. Examples and ex­ercises bearing this title appear frequently.

Summaries of Ideas and Terms follow each chapter. They summarize and clar­ify the main concepts and should be helpful when studying for exams.

Review Questions and Conceptual Exercises follow each chapter and are or­ganized by sections within the chapter. Review Questions go over the main points and can be answered by glancing through the appropriate section. Most Conceptual Exercises are qualitative, while some are numerical but nonalgebraic. Designed to exercise the mind the way that jogging exercises the body, they require original thought. Answers to the odd‑numbered ex­ercises are in the back of the book.

Problems requiring algebraic manipulation follow all but the first two chap­ters. These could be used in courses in which algebra is appropriate. Answers to the odd‑numbered problems are in the back of the book.

Critical Thinking Questions, a few of them, follow most chapters. These are meant to stimulate thinking about values and other issues and have no sin­gle correct answer. They can be used for class discussion, essays, or individ­ual thought.

Hands-on Physics projects, a few of them, follow most chapters. There is noth­ing like hands‑on experience to bring out the experimental nature of sci­ence. These could be done at home, in a laboratory, or as demonstrations.

Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Extended Version 5th edition by Paul Allen Tipler, Gene Mosca (W.H. Freeman) this comprehensive edition has everything the other editions small editions have. For nearly 30 years, Paul Tipler's Physics for Scientists and Engineers has set the standard in the introductory calculus-based physics course for clarity, accuracy, and precision. In this fifth edition, Paul has recruited Gene Mosca to bring his years of teaching experience to bear on the text, to scrutinize every explanation and example from the perspective of the freshman student. The result is a teaching tool that retains its precision and rigor, but offers struggling students the support they need to solve problems strategically and to gain real understanding of physical concepts.
Every example has been scrutinized, with additional steps added wherever an assumption might have been made, new Remarks included, and new follow-up exercises, free-body diagrams added where appropriate. The answers are now boxed to make them easier to find. New features to this edition include the Plausibility Check, which offers quick tests that help students learn to evaluate their answers with logic. Also is added interactive Master the Concept exercises to help stu­dents work through key problems. The exercises follow examples in the textbook and are marked with a Master the Concept icon that directs students to the text’s Web site. There, the exercise is set up with algorithmically generated variables and students work the problem with step-by-step guidance and immediate feedback.
This edition also includes two types of specialized examples that provide unique problem-solving opportunities for students. The Try it Yourself examples prompt students to take an active role in solving the problem, and the Put It in Context examples approximate the real life scenarios they might encounter as scientists.

  • Side-by-side worked examples. Unique among calculus-based physics texts--breaks out the conceptual explanation into the left column, with corresponding equations on the right.

  • "Picture the Problem" sections precede and "Remarks" sections complete each worked example. Students report that these features encourage understanding of the key physical principles.

  • "Try It Yourself" self-checks appear periodically throughout each chapter. These are worked examples with some explanation missing. If students cannot complete the solution on their own, they know that they need to review the previous group of worked examples before proceeding. Each chapter features at least one interactive Worked Example, which students can try on the Web.

  • "Put it in Context" examples. Each chapter contains one or more "context-rich" worked examples. Unlike standard worked examples, these include extra contextual information (such as descriptions of the real-life situation) and state the problem indirectly. For example, in a standard problem, the student may be given a value for the tension in a rock-climber's rope and asked to find the acceleration of the climber, while in a context-rich problem, the student may be given additional variables and asked whether or not the rope will break. Such problems reflect the real problems scientists and engineers face.

Media links. Fully integrated with its companion Web site, the book helps students take advantage of interactive problem-solving:

  • About one-third of the Freeman iSOLVE Homework Service problems are designated as Checkpoint Problems, asking students for confidence level, the key principle(s) involved in a given problem, and applicable equations.

  • Focus on misconceptions. Drawing on their extensive classroom experiences, the authors identify and address common misconceptions about physics directly and carefully. Places where these misconceptions are addressed are highlighted with an icon.

  • Twenty percent new end-of-chapter problems, by Charles Adler of St. Mary's College-Maryland. Chapter problem sets include more conceptual and single concept problems, with conceptual questions grouped together at the beginning of the set.

  • New Estimation/Approximation Problems, which test students' conceptual understanding

  • More engineering and biological applications, driving home the relevance of specific coverage to students' experiences, further studies, and potential careers.

  • New brief chapter on Relativity in Volume 1. This new "mini" chapter (brief enough to be covered in a single lecture) allows professors to include a "modern" topic early in the course.

  • New chapter opening pedagogy, including
    New chapter-opening questions in the caption for the opening photo. Students are directed to a worked example within the chapter that answers the question.

  • Chapter outlines--a listing of chapter A-heads showing students what is to come.
    Highlighted chapter goal statement, identifying the main thrust of the chapter in the opening paragraph.

  • New design, with improved photo and art program.

The book now features a warmer, more colorful look. New photos bring to life the many applications of physics to the real world. Line art has been carefully revised to increase clarity, and where possible, to render it more life-like.
Web site at www.whfreeman.com/tipler5e
Web site author: Robin Jordan, Florida Atlantic University
Addressing the predominant need of introductory physics students, the Tipler/Mosca Web site focuses on assessment-based exercises, particularly worked examples and homework problems. The site offers:
Online Quizzing. Multiple choice quizzes for each of the book's chapters. Results can be accessed by the student's instructor within a comprehensive gradebook format, while students get instant feedback. Other features also.

Instructor's Resource CD-ROM, 0-7167-9839-5
To help instructors create their own Web sites and orchestrate dynamic lectures, the disc contains:

  • Text illustrations in .jpg format

  • Demonstration or Applied Physics videos in QuickTime format, compatible with any presentation software.

  • Presentation Manager Pro v. 2.0., which allows instructors to quickly create classroom presentations using figures from the text, the

  • Demonstration or Applied Physics videos, or the instructor's own still or moving images.

  • Solutions to the end-of-chapter exercises in Adobe Acrobat and HTML formats, for instructor reference or on instructor sites plus

  • The Instructor's Resource Manual in .pdf formats. Updated with the new edition, the IRM offers Web links to free sources of physlets, animations, and other resources. It also includes compilation of classroom demonstrations, a film and video guide, and a list of valuable Web sites for instructors.

For instructor and student convenience, the Fifth Edition of Physics for Scientists and Engineers is available in five volumes …


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