Courtesy of Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools blog. Someday, I’d love to get time to go back and learn the physics and math that I once knew.
Inspiring physics textbook
This is not your father’s physics textbook. It is the self-published 1,500-page (!!), still-unfinished physics textbook written and designed by your polymath genius uncle who dwells on a mountain with the spirits of departed philosophers (whom he quotes, in German). It’s what a physics textbook would be like if a poet wrote it and made no mistakes. The book is massively visual. There is minimal math. It’s a textbook with soul.
The guiding metaphor of Motion Mountain, and thus its name, is to frame physics as varieties of motion and change. When it gets to quantum mechanics it considers this in almost Taoist terms, as the “smallest change.”
This textbook is a work of art. Unlike standard texts, it is an enthusiastically personal masterpiece, yet still has exercise problems for students to practice. It sprawls across topics you won’t find in any other physics textbook: semantics, lying, color theory, the physics of pleasure. In many ways it reminds me of Godel, Escher, Bach in its witty brilliance, stupendous range, and self-designed idiosyncrasies. Motion Mountain is an amazing portrait of the physical world as flux. It has the power to equip you with the intellectual tools to work with, and love, this flux. Studying it is an adventure in understanding.
Best of all, it is a free PDF book. A PDF means that it is hyperlinked to footnotes and intensely cross-referenced. And it is easily searchable. Every student — anywhere — can download a copy.
Motion Mountain: An Adventure in Physics
By Christoph Schiller
2007, 1498 pages
Available at Motion Mountain