How To Solve Physics Problems (College Course)

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9780070481664: How To Solve Physics Problems (College Course)
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The purpose of this book is to show you how to do physics problems. It is only through applications of concepts to solving problems that we can know for certain that we understand something. Nowhere is this more true than in a physics course where performance is measured almost exclusively by your ability to do problems. This book is not a collection of problems. Neither is it a text. It is an attempt to strike a balance between theory and problem solving with heavy emphasis on the problem solving. As such it is intended to complement your course text.

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From the Author:

Author's Summary of Content and Approach
Generations of physics students, the authors included, have often lamented, concerning their physics courses, "I understood everything in lecture and the text but I can't do the problems." This book was written to help you do the problems.

We explain not only how to do a problem but why we do it a certain way. This gives you not just a collection of problems, but a collection of methods that can be used, modified, and built on to do other physics problems. We do not claim to present every problem you will ever encounter. We do, however, present the methods that work for large groups of problems. If you develop the techniques we describe for solving problems then you will know how to successfully attack the problems you will encounter on tests.

This is the book you should have as a reference when you are doing your homework problems. It will show you how to work the problems and explain why they are being done the way they are.

The topics in this book are in the order of most physics texts. Each chapter begins with a theoretical discussion. Problems are mixed in with the discussion as soon as possible. These problems follow the development of the theory. This starts you working problems and learning from them before digesting large amounts of conceptual material.

A "standard" route is followed for problems wherever possible. We avoid methods that may be quick and have limited application to problem solving in favor of possibly longer solutions that have broad applications and always work. The problems and text are integrated with a minimum of artificial barriers between them.

The book is intended as a complement to either the calculus-based or the non-calculus-based elementary physics course. It has been our experience that calculus can be introduced into the traditionally non-calculus course and used in the development of concepts. Conceptually, calculus is not difficult especially when it is introduced in a physics problem. In those instances where calculus is needed, the problems and paragraphs are marked with a calculus icon. Even the student without formal calculus training will benefit from these sections.

Learning physics is different from most disciplines. Most disciplines can be learned by reading and listening, with mastery demonstrated by writing. Physics is not like that. Learning physics requires learning to do the problems of physics not by writing about them but by manipulating mathematical symbols in the correct manner. Success in physics is demonstrated by solving problems. This is what you will learn in this book.

The book was started around 1980 (by RMO) and was provided in rough form to his students in the elementary physics sequence to help them understand concepts and give them practice and confidence in working problems. The favorable response from those students provided motivation to continue to expand the number and extent of the topics. In 1984 the problems were used (by DMO) as an aid in the elementary physics courses he was taking. Since then the collection of problems and text has been expanded by both authors and refined through further use by their students.

Robert M. Oman e-mail: omanr@aol.com
St. Petersburg, Florida

Daniel M. Oman e-mail: doman@lucent.com
Orlando, Florida

From the Back Cover:

The Problem: Physics. The Solution: How to Solve Physics Problems

No one says physics is easy, not even physics professor Bob Oman or microelectronics researcher Dan Oman. They struggled with physics as undergraduates, too, and know the physics student's lament--"I understood everything in lecture and the text, but I couldn't do the problems."

That's why they wrote How to Solve Physics Problems. This book prepares you for physics exams by moving you directly into problem-solving. You learn to solve physics problems naturally and systematically as you read along--before you even know you're doing it--and in a way you simply can't forget. This book also helps you with your homework and gives you a preview of problems that will be on your exams. Plus you get good, solid advice on how to reduce study time, get maximum benefit from class, prepare for your exams effectively, and make your note-taking count.

No matter how tough your textbook or how rigorous your course--whether you are studying calculus-based or non-calc physics--this book will help you understand more and improve your grade.

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