3000 Solved problems in physics

This book is intended for use by students of general physics, either in calculus- or noncalculus- based courses. Problems requiring real calculus (not merely calculus notation) arc marked with a small superscript c.

The only way to master general physics is to gain ability and sophistication in problem-solving. This book is meant to make you a master of the art — and should do so if used properly. As a rule, a problem can be solved once you have learned the ideas behind it; sometimes these very ideas are brought into sharper focus by looking at sample problems and their solutions. If you have difficulty with a topic, you can select a few problems in that area, examine the solutions carefully, and then try to solve related problems before looking at the printed solutions.

There are numerous ways of posing a problem and, frequently, numerous ways of solving one. You should try to gain understanding of how to approach various classes of problems, rather than memorizing particular solutions. Understanding is better than memory for success in physics.

The problems in this book cover every important topic in a typical two- or three-semester general physics sequence. Ranging from the simple to the complex, they will provide you with plenty of practice and food for thought.

The Chapter Skeletons with Exams, beginning on the next page, was devised to help students with limited time gain maximum benefit from this book. It is hoped that the use of this feature is self- evident; still, the following remarks may help:

  • The Chapter Skeletons divide the problems in this book into three categories: SCAN, HOMEWORK and EXAMS. (Turn to page ix to see an example.)
  • To gain a quick overview of the basic ideas in a chapter, review the SCAN problems and study their printed solutions.
  • HOMEWOR K problems are for practicing your problem-solving skills; cover the solution with an index card as you read, and try to solve, the problem. Do both sets if your course is calculus based.
  • No problem from Scan or Homework is duplicated in Exams, and no two Exams overlap. Calculus-based students are urged also to take the Hard Exam. Exams run about 60 minutes, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Still further problems constitute the two groups of Final Exams. Stay in your category(ies), and good luck.


Chapter skeletons with exams
Chapter 1. Mathematical introduction
Chapter 2. Equilibrium of concurrent forces
Chapter 3. Kinematics in one dimension
Chapter 4. Newton’s laws of motion
Chapter 5. Motion in a plane I
Chapter 6. Motion in a plane II
Chapter 7. Work and energy
Chapter 8. Power and simple machines
Chapter 9. Impulse and momentum
Chapter 10. Statics of rigid bodies
Chapter 11. Rotational motion I: Kinematics and dynamics
Chapter 12. Rotational motion II: Kinetic energy, angular impulse, angular momentum
Chapter 13. Matter in bulk
Chapter 14. Simple harmonic motion
Chapter is. Hydrostatics
Chapter 16. Hydrodynamics
Chapter 17. Temperature and thermal expansion
Chapter 18. Heat and calorimetry
Chapter 19. Heat transfer
Chapter 20. Gas laws and kinetic theory
Chapter 21. The first law of thermodynamics
Chapter 22. The second law of thermodynamics
Chapter 23. Wave motion
Chapter 24. Sound
Chapter 25. Coulomb’s law and electric fields
Chapter 26. Electric potential and capacitance
Chapter 27. Simple electric circuits
Chapter 28. The magnetic field
Chapter 29. Magnetic properties of matter
Chapter 30. Induced emf: generators and motors
Chapter 31. Inductance
Chapter 32. Electric circuits
Chapter 33. Electromagnetic waves
Chapter 34. Light and optical phenomena
Chapter 35. Mirrors, lenses, and optical instruments
Chapter 36. Interference, diffraction, and polarization
Chapter 37. Special relativity
Chapter 38. Particles of light and waves of matter
Chapter 39. Modern physics: atoms, nuclei, solid-state electronics

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