I was looking for resource material on how planets retain atmospheres to pass onto a particularly inquisitive A-Level student, when I happened onto this title.
Sure enough, the section titled “Retention of a planetary atmosphere” explained just how important the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution is in the ability of a planet to retain it’s atmosphere. This was soon extended to discuss why the moon would gradually loose any atmosphere it possessed.
Impressed with that section, I proceeded to review the whole title.
As a title to suggest to A-Level students, it is clearly beyond the scope of all A-Level curricula and is more suited to first or second year undergraduates. With that in mind, I continued through the book, looking for sections that I could utilise to support my own teaching.
There are interesting and well written sections on; signal, noise and digital filtering; least squares and data fitting; and homogeneity – each of which would be suitable to use as resource material for more able A-Level students.
Clearly the book is aimed at undergraduate students, covering as it does, just about everything that would be taught on most University courses. It is this breadth of coverage that ultimately lets the title down. It just feels “too comprehensive” – if that’s at all possible. At nearly 800 pages it covers a wealth of subject matter, but each individual topic can feel slightly under explored. For example, the Schrödinger wave equation is derived and explained in just 2 pages. I can imagine students either feeling relieved that such a pivotal concept has been distilled down or frustrated that the wider consequences have not been explored.
I left this title, feeling that it might have been better to split it into two volumes; “Volume 1 – Mathematical Techniques for Physics” and “Volume 2 – Mathematics of Classical Physics Problems”