Physics: The First Science

Physics: The First Science

Physics: The First Science

Physics: The First Science


Today's physics textbooks have become encyclopedic, offering students dry discussions, rote formulas, and exercises with little relation to the real world. Physics: The First Science takes a different approach by offering uniquely accessible, student-friendly explanations, historical and philosophical perspectives and mathematics in easy-to-comprehend dialogue. It emphasizes the unity of physics and its place as the basis for all science. Examples and worked solutions are scattered throughout the narrative to help increase understanding. Students are tested and challenged at the end of each chapter with questions ranging from a guided-review designed to mirror the examples, to problems, reasoning skill building exercises that encourage students to analyze unfamiliar situations, and interactive simulations developed at the University of Colorado. With their experience instructing both students and teachers of physics for decades, Peter Lindenfeld and Suzanne White Brahmia have developed an algebra-based physics book with features to help readers see the physics in their lives. Students will welcome the engaging style, condensed format, and economical price.


The world is a wonderful place. Our aim is that working with this book will help you to be more aware of it than you were before and to see it more fully, both the aspects that are visible and those that are hidden.

Let’s look at the different parts of this book. First there is the text. We hope that you find it clear, interesting, and sometimes surprising. We want this to be a book that you read. In between the narrative passages are the examples. They turn the words into action. They are essential parts of the book, and it is very important that you read and study them carefully. Each example has questions, usually with numbers and quantities. Working through them is not difficult since the answers are there too.

You might think that leaves nothing for you to do. That’s where the “Guided Review” comes in. There is one at the end of each chapter. For each example in the text there is a Guided Review question that is closely related to it. The idea is that as you think about the question at the end of the chapter you will go back to the example that goes with it and study it more closely, and also read and reread the part of the text that goes with it.

The other questions at the end of the chapters are for review, and to let you try out the ideas and the different ways of finding answers. Some of them also take the story further. They are grouped in sections called “Problems and reasoning skill building,” “Multiple choice questions,” and “Synthesis problems and projects.” For simplicity all quantities in the examples and other questions are assumed to be known to three figures unless otherwise noted.

A particularly interesting feature consists of the simulations that have been developed at the University of Colorado. They give you an even closer look at the phenomena that are discussed in the text. In most of them you are asked to make specific measurements, but in addition they invite free explorations that take the concepts further.

We should say a little about the math. That’s the language of physics, and it is important to know how to use it. We don’t expect you to come knowing more than you learned in high school. But there may be ways of using math that are new to you, and symbols that are different from those that you are used to. We explain them as we go along. We don’t use calculus in the problems, but we talk about the ideas of calculus where they are helpful.

The important part of learning physics is not to memorize facts and formulas. It is, rather, to approach and analyze unfamiliar situations. It uses ways of thinking that are accessible to everyone. The study of physics can be frustrating at times, but also exhilarating and rewarding. We hope that you will find it to be an adventure that enriches your view of the world. There may be hard work ahead, but we want you to enjoy the trip that we take together!

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