EM - Griffiths
CM - Taylor along with Goldstein
Modern Physics - Beiser
Hi! I have a question about what learning path to take if I want to learn the basics of electric propulsion.
In 6 months I'm starting an internship and I'll be working in Hall/ion thrusters. I'm a 4th year Aerospace Engineering undergrad student, and I've only done basic EM. I know the basics of electric/space propulsion, but my knowledge in EM is limited, not to mention plasma physics.
In order to prepare myself for the internship, I've thought of studying the first 7 chapters of Griffiths (up to Maxwell's eqs), then jump directly into a Hall/ion thruster textbook (Goebel & Katz). My course on EM in uni was pretty basic (I never learnt how to solve Laplace's eq for example and I barely touched Maxwell's eqs) so that's why I'm planning to unrust my EM with Griffiths first. There's a chapter on Goebel & Katz on basic plasma physics. I'm wondering if I'll be able to understand it after reading the first part of Griffiths.
Do you think it's a good strategy? Are chapters 8-12 necessary to jump into basic plasma phyiscs? Would you first study basic plasma physics on a dedicated textbook before moving onto Goebel and Katz? Any tips and comments are appreciated!
Thank you very much! :D
Do I have a book for you
1) Find a good source of information --- typically, this is either very good lectures (like on youtube), a good textbook, or good lecture notes.
2) Do problems. There is a fairly large gap between those that just watch the lectures and those that have sat down and try to go through each and every step of the logic, and that's what everyone here (on HN) is pointing out when they similarly mention doing problems.
2b) Have solutions to those problems. I make this a separate point because it's important to spend quality time on a problem yourself before looking at the solutions. At the end of the day, if you read the problems and then the solution right away, that's much closer to reading the textbook itself instead of the more rigorous learning one goes through when trying things themselves.
If you were to ask me what textbooks or lectures I recommend, I think that's a more personal question than many here might guess. What topics are you most interested in? Are you really just solely interested in a solid background? How patient are you when doing problems?
Regardless, I'll give my two cents for textbooks anyway. In no particular order:
1) Griffiths E&M: https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Electrodynamics-David-J-...
2) Axler, Linear Algebra Done Right: https://www.amazon.com/Linear-Algebra-Right-Undergraduate-Ma...
If you want to self learn, well let's go through some books and then youtube channels.
Books: Missing Discrete and Graph Theory
(You can get previous versions to save money. The content of these is mostly the same). Mostly in order of level (math then physics)
Calculus: Stewart's Calculus (this is pretty much the standard) This has calc 1,2, and 3 (multi variable)
Linear Algebra: David Lay . Start sometime after calc 2 (series problems). This will start you on some optimization and constraint solving. Stress learning eigen values/vectors and least squares. I don't have a good level 2 book, but that would mean looking into coordinate transformations, QR decomposition, and some more stuff.
Differential Equations: Blanchard Differential equations . You will need diff eq to gain a true appreciation for physics. You will also gain a lot of the pre-req's for optimization and constraint solving.
Physics: Halliday and Resnik is one of my favorites. But this is the lower college level (3 courses: Classical, E&M, Rel/quant). If you are relearning you can skip to below (though you might struggle a little more) Req: Taken or taking Calc 1 (differentiation and integration required later)
Classical Dynamics: Thornton You will learn A LOT about constraint, optimization, and simple harmonic motion (necessary!!). You will also learn about Hamiltonian Systems. (1.5 courses) Req: Diff Eq, Calc 3
Electrodynamics: Griffiths . Another standard. You won't find a better book than this for E&M. (1.5 courses) Req: Diff Eq, Calc 3
Quantum Mechanics: Griffiths  (He's the man, seriously) (1.5 courses) Req: Diff Eq, Calc 3 (lin algebra is nice, same with a tad of group theory)
Astrophysics: BOB  Lovingly called the "Big Orange Book" you will see this on every astrophysicists' shelves. (2+ courses) Req: Calc 1
Particle Physics: That's right! You guessed it! Griffiths! Take after QM.
BlackPenRedPen: Fantastic teacher. He will help you with calc and help you understand a lot of tricks that you might not see in the above books. I can't stress enough that you should watch him.
Go find MIT OCWs, I'm not going to list them.
Honorable mentions: 3Blue1Brown, Numberphile, Veritasium, StandUpMaths, SmarterEveryDay. All these people talk about some neat concepts that will help you gain more interest and think about things to pursue. But they are not course channels, they are much more casual (somewhere between what you'd see on the Discovery Channel and a classroom, more towards the latter).
> I follow a bunch of folks on the internet and idolize them for their multifaceted personalities
Don't stress too much about being like those people you idolize. I guarantee that you see them as much more intelligent people than they are or think of (not dissing on them, but we tend to put these people on pedestals and this is a big contributor to Imposter Syndrome. Which WILL have, probably already does, an effect on your learning process). Don't compare yourself. You can get to most of these peoples' levels by just doing an hour or two a day for a few years.
> I can totally see that these are the folks who have high IQs and they can easily learn a new domain in a few months if they were put in one.
This is a skill. A trainable skill. Just remember that. Some people are much more proficient at it, but I be you'll see that they have much more experience. In music you sight read. Doing the same thing with math, physics, engineering, etc will result in the same increase in talent.