Modern Physics for Science and Engineering by Marshall Burns provides an introduction to modern physics for students who have completed an academic year of general physics. As a continuation of introductory general physics, it includes the subject areas of classical relativity, Einstein’s special theory of relativity, the old quantum theory, an introduction to quantum mechanics, and introductory classical and quantum statistical mechanics.
A major objective of this book is to enhance student understanding and appreciation of the fundamentals of physics by illustrating the necessary physical and quantitative reasoning with fundamentals that is essential for theoretical modeling of phenomena in science and engineering. The majority of physics textbooks at both the introductory and the intermediate level seldom elaborate in sufficient detail the development of physical theories, but rather concentrate on introducing the basic concepts, formulas, and associated terminology of a broad spectrum of physics topics, leaving little space for the development of mathematical logic and physical reasoning from first principles. Students are expected somehow to develop the necessary physical and quantitative reasoning either on their own or from classroom lectures.
Modern Physics for Science and Engineering employs a deliberate and detailed approach. All of the topics presented are developed from first principles. In fact, all but three equations are rigorously derived via physical reasoning before being applied to problems or used in the discussion of other topics. Thus, the order of topics throughout the text is dictated by the requirement that fundamentals and physical derivations be carefully and judiciously introduced.
A gradual increase in the complexity of topics being considered is employed to allow students to mature steadily in physical and quantitative reasoning as they progress through the book. For example, Chapter 1 allows students to review pertinent fundamental equations of classical mechanics and to apply them to classical relativity before they are employed in the development of Einstein’s special theory of relativity in Chapters 2 – 4. This allows students time to develop the necessary quantitative skills and gain an overview of relativity before considering the conceptually subtle points of Einsteinian relativity.
This basic approach, of reviewing the classical point of view before developing that of modern physics, continues throughout the text to allow students to build upon what they already know and to develop strong connections between classical and modern physics. With this approach, students see how concepts of classical and modern physics are tied together, rather than seeing them as confused, isolated areas of interest.
The 290 chapter-end problems require students to be deliberate, reflective, and straightforward in their logic with physical fundamentals. Formal solutions for the odd-numbered problems are provided at the end of each chapter, and answers are given for the even-numbered problems. A student’s efficiency in assimilating fundamentals and developing quantitative reasoning is greatly enhanced by making solutions an integral part of the text.
Modern Physics for Science and Engineering is written with the understanding that mathematics is only a tool in the development of physical theories and that the mathematical skills of students at the sophomore level are often limited. Accordingly, algebra and basic trigonometry are primarily used in the beginning chapters, with elementary calculus being introduced either as an alternative approach or when necessary to preserve the integrity and rigor of the subject. The math review provided in Appendix A is more than sufficient for a study of the entire book. On occasions when higher mathematics is required, the mathematics is sufficiently detailed to allow understanding with only a knowledge of elementary calculus. Even quantum theory and statistical mechanics are easily managed with this approach through the introduction of operator algebra and with the occasional use of one of the five definite integrals provided in Appendix A. This reduced mathematical emphasis allows students to concentrate on the more important underlying physical concepts and not be distracted or intimidated by unfamiliar mathematics.
About the Author:
Dr. Marshall L. Burns is a Professor of Physics at Tuskegee University where he has taught for the past 36 years. He has also taught at Kent State University for 4 years and William Patterson College for 2 years. He has numerous publications in basic and pedagogic research in the areas of solid state physics and biomechanics. Some of his basic research theories are required reading and mastery by graduate students in bioengineering and material science engineering. He has given presentations on his basic and pedagogic research at numerous colleges and universities. He has received several teaching excellence awards at Tuskegee University and was the first recipient of the Amoco Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, which is a university wide award. His teaching and research have emphasized the enhancement of quantitative reasoning by students for success in science and engineering. In fact, everything in Modern Physics for Science and Engineering is developed from first principles via quantitative reasoning.