Light and Matter
Benjamin Crowell, Fullerton College
Copyright Year: 2010
Last Update: 2020
Publisher: Benjamin Crowell
Conditions of Use
This textbook does include many of the standard topics appropriate for an introductory physics course. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover these topics on a level that supports the attainment of mastery for the user. There are examples worked in this... read more
This textbook does include many of the standard topics appropriate for an introductory physics course. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover these topics on a level that supports the attainment of mastery for the user. There are examples worked in this text, but these examples aren't the standard physics problems that students are expected to solve. Also, there aren't enough end-of-chapter questions and problems for sufficient student practice.
The content in this textbook is error-free and unbiased.
The arrangement of material in this textbook does show the connectedness between topics, but this interweaving of content makes it difficult to cover the information in the "typical" sequencing found in most introductory physics courses.
The author is to be commended for trying to present this material in its historical context. Unfortunately, this leads to an overly complicated plethora of information that can't be easily digested by the student. The content needs to be separated and streamlined in order to make it usable.
The content represented in this textbook is internally consistent.
Many of the concepts presented in this textbook are woven together in a way that makes them difficult to separate into subunits or smaller reading sections.
The author's attempt to present this material in a more "story-like" fashion falls woefully short of the structure and rigor needed in an introductory physics course.
There are no issues are concerns regarding this textbook's interface.
There are no issues are concerns regarding the grammar used in this textbook.
There are no cultural or racial insensitivities found in this textbook.
This textbook lacks the rigor and structure needed for an undergraduate introductory physics course or an AP Physics B course.
While the book “nominally” covers all the topic of an introductory physics course [either algebra- or calculus-based], the topics are not covered at a level appropriate for a standard college-level course. For example, in the chapters on forces,... read more
While the book “nominally” covers all the topic of an introductory physics course [either algebra- or calculus-based], the topics are not covered at a level appropriate for a standard college-level course. For example, in the chapters on forces, the text does not solve typical problems covered in these courses, such as the sliding of a block on an incline plane with friction. A textbook should include a step-by-step explanation how these problems are solved.
The text is fairly accurate, with only few mistakes. For example, on page 149, two hands are connected by a string. The text writes: “Two people’s hands exert forces on each other.” This is technically not correct since the two hands are not in contact with other: it’s not acceptable that a textbook would make such a mistake.
The text is an idiosyncratic text. It has its charm, but is ill-suited for a highly “regulated” introductory course. These courses cover a long-list of required topics and prepare students for standardized tests [such as MCAT]. It would be very difficult to adopt the text and amend it such that it would a standard course outline.
The text introduces too many concepts in the same chapter. In chapter 2 that deals with translational kinematics in one spatial dimension, it introduces: rotation, deformation, center of mass, rolling motion, projectile motion, and the principle of inertia. I cannot see that how anyone just learning the “language of physics” cannot distinguish between these different concepts.
The authors lament that students are frequently not able to distinguish between force and energy. This reviewer shares this sentiment; it is then puzzling why the authors do not address this difficulty by step-by0step explanation of illustrative examples.
Overall, the book is far too long; students do not read long books. Short book are much more likely to be read. Short texts also have the benefit of authors forcing to be very concise in their writing.
The book is internally consistent.
Physical concepts are used in different chapters. This will make it difficult to split the text into different parts.
The organization of the text is very unusual. Air resistance is discussed in the chapter on forces. It should instead be in the chapter on fluids where density is introduced. This organization is detrimental to student learning. This is a single example of a much deeper problem of the organization of this text.
There are no problems with the interface.
The grammar is fine.
The book is not insensitive in any form. It is difficult to address racial disparities in a physics text.
This text is ill-suited for an introductory physics course or as a self-study text for students.
Table of Contents
- 0 Introduction and review
- 1 Scaling and estimation
- 2 Velocity and relative motion
- 3 Acceleration and free fall
- 4 Force and motion
- 5 Analysis of forces
- 6 Newton's laws in three dimensions
- 7 Vectors
- 8 Vectors and motion
- 9 Circular motion
- 10 Gravity
- 11 Conservation of energy
- 12 Simplifying the energy zoo
- 13 Work: the transfer of mechanical energy
- 14 Conservation of momentum
- 15 Conservation of angular momentum
- 16 Thermodynamics
- 17 Vibrations
- 18 Resonance
- 19 Free waves
- 20 Bounded waves
- 21 Electricity and circuits
- 22 The nonmechanical universe
- 23 Relativity and magnetism
- 24 Electromagnetism
- 25 Capacitance and inductance
- 26 The atom and E=mc$^2$
- 27 General relativity
- 28 The ray model of light
- 29 Images by reflection
- 30 Images, quantitatively
- 31 Refraction
- 32 Wave optics
- 33 Rules of randomness
- 34 Light as a particle
- 35 Matter as a wave
- 36 The atom
About the Book
This is an introductory text intended for a one-year introductory course of the type typically taken by biology majors, or for AP Physics B. Algebra and trig are used, and there are optional calculus-based sections.
About the Contributors
Ben Crowell teaches physics at Fullerton College, a community college in southern California. PhD in physics from Yale.