Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....

Why a New Physics Textbook?

We Americans assume that our economic system will always scamper to provide us with the products we want. Special orders don't upset us! I want my MTV! The truth is more complicated, especially in our education system, which is paid for by the students but controlled by the professoriate. Witness the perverse success of the bloated science textbook. The newspapers continue to compare our system unfavorably to Japanese and European education, where depth is emphasized over breadth, but we can't seem to create a physics textbook that covers a manageable number of topics for a one-year course and gives honest explanations of everything it touches on.

The publishers try to please everybody by including every imaginable topic in the book, but end up pleasing nobody. There is wide agreement among physics teachers that the traditional one-year introductory textbooks cannot in fact be taught in one year. One cannot surgically remove enough material and still gracefully navigate the rest of one of these kitchen-sink textbooks. What is far worse is that the books are so crammed with topics that nearly all the explanation is cut out in order to keep the page count below 1100. Vital concepts like energy are introduced abruptly with an equation, like a first-date kiss that comes before "hello."

The movement to reform physics texts is steaming ahead, but despite excellent books such as Hewitt's Conceptual Physics for nonscience majors and Knight's Physics: A Contemporary Perspective for students who know calculus, there has been a gap in physics books for life-science majors who haven't learned calculus or are learning it concurrently with physics. This book is meant to fill that gap.

Last Update: 2009-06-21