University Physics with Modern Physics Companion Site, 2/e
Michigan State University Gary D. Westfall,
Michigan State University
ISBN: 0073513881 Copyright year: 2014
Note from the Authors
We are excited to introduce the second edition of our textbook, University Physics. Physics is a thriving science, alive with intellectual challenge and presenting innumerable research problems on topics ranging from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. Physicists have managed to bring understanding, order, consistency, and predictability to our universe and will continue that endeavor into the exciting future.
However, when we open most current introductory physics textbooks, we find that a different
story is being told. Physics is painted as a completed science in which the major advances happened at the time of Newton, or perhaps early in the 20th century. Only toward the end of the standard textbooks is “modern” physics covered, and even that coverage often includes only discoveries made through the 1960s.Our main motivation in writing this book is to change this perception by weaving exciting,
contemporary physics throughout the text. Physics is an amazingly dynamic discipline—continuously on the verge of new discoveries and life-changing applications. In order to help students see this, we need to tell the full, absorbing story of our science by integrating contemporary physics into the first-year calculus-based course. Even the very first semester offers many opportunities to do this by weaving recent results from nonlinear dynamics, chaos, complexity, and high-energy physics research into the introductory curriculum. Because we are actively carrying out research in these fields, we know that many of the cutting-edge results are accessible in their essence to the first-year student.
Recent results involving renewable energy, the environment, engineering, medicine, and
technology show physics as an exciting, thriving, and intellectually alive subject motivating students, invigorating classrooms, and making the instructor’s job easier and more enjoyable. In particular, we believe that talking about the broad topic of energy provides a great opening gambit to capture students’ interest. Concepts of energy sources (fossil, renewable, nuclear, and so forth), energy efficiency, energy storage, alternative energy sources, and environmental effects of energy supply choices (global warming and ocean acidification, for example) are very much accessible on the introductory physics level. We find that discussions of energy spark our students’ interest like no other current topic, and we have addressed different aspects of energy throughout our book.
In addition to being exposed to the exciting world of physics, students benefit greatly from
gaining the ability to problem solve and think logically about a situation. Physics is based on a core set of ideas that is fundamental to all of science. We acknowledge this and provide a useful problem-solving method (outlined in Chapter 1) which is used throughout the entire book. This problem-solving method involves a multistep format that we have developed with students in our classes. But mastery of concepts also involves actively applying them. To this end, we have asked more than a dozen contributors from some of the leading universities across the country to share their best work in the end-of-chapter exercises. New to this edition are approximately 400 multiversion exercises, which allow students to address the same problem from different perspectives.
In 2012, the National Research Council published a framework for K–12 science education,
which covers the essential science and engineering practices, the concepts that have application across fields, and the core ideas in four disciplinary areas (in physics, these are matter and its interactions, motion and stability, energy, and waves and their applications in information transfer). We have structured the second edition of this textbook to tie the undergraduate physics experience to this framework and have provided concept checks and self-test opportunities in each chapter.
With all of this in mind, along with the desire to write a captivating textbook, we have created
what we hope will be a tool to engage students’ imaginations and to better prepare them for future courses in their chosen fields (admittedly, hoping we can convert at least a few students to physics majors along the way). Having feedback from more than 400 people, including a board of advisors, several contributors, manuscript reviewers, and focus group participants, assisted greatly in this enormous undertaking, as did field testing our ideas with approximately 6000 students in our introductory physics classes at Michigan State University. We thank you all!
—Wolfgang Bauer and Gary D. Westfall