Head First Physics

Head First Physics

Wouldn't it be great if there were a physics book that showed you how things work instead of telling you how? Finally, with Head First Physics, there is. This comprehensive book takes the stress out of learning the mechanics of physics by providing a fun and engaging experience, especially for students who "just don't get it."

Head First Physics offers a format that's rich in visuals and full of activities, including pictures, illustrations, puzzles, stories, and quizzes—a mixed-media style proven to stimulate learning and retention. One look will convince you: This isn't mere theory, this is physics brought to life through real-world scenarios, simple experiments, and hypothetical projects. Head First Physics is perfect for anyone who's intrigued by how things work in the natural world.

You'll quickly discover that physics isn't a dry subject. It's all about the world we live in, encompassing everything from falling objects and speeding cars, to conservation of energy and gravity and weightlessness, and orbital behavior. This book:
  • Helps you think like a physicist so you can understand why things really work the way they do
  • Gives you relevant examples so you can fully grasp the principles before moving on to more complex concepts
  • Designed to be used as a supplement study guide for the College Board's Advanced Placement Physics B Exam
  • Introduces principles for the purpose of solving real-world problems, not memorization
  • Teaches you how to measure, observe, calculate—and yes—how to do the math
  • Covers a full range of mechanics principles—scientific notation, SI units, vectors, motion, momentum conservation, Newton's Laws, energy conservation, weight and mass, gravitation and orbits, circular motion and simple harmonic motion, and much more

If "Myth Busters" and other TV programs make you curious about our physical world—or if you're a student forced to take a physics course—now you can pursue the subject without the dread of boredom or the fear that it will be over your head. Head First Physics comes to rescue with an innovative, engaging, and inspirational way to learn physics!

A collection of images from inside the book.

Read Me:
What you should know before reading this book

This is a learning experience, not a reference book. We deliberately stripped out everything that might get in the way of learning whatever it is we're working on at that point in the book. And the first time through, you need to begin at the beginning, because the book makes assumptions about what you've already seen and learned.

We begin with experiments, measurements, graphs and equations, then move on to forces and energy conservation, and then more advanced topics such as gravitation and simple harmonic motion.

It's important to start with a firm foundation. We start out with the building blocks and tools of physics Ė experiments, measurements, graphs, equations Ė and most importantly, how to approach problems by thinking like a physicist. But this is no dry, theoretical introduction. Right from the word go, you'll be picking up these important skills by solving problems yourself. As the book goes on, your brain is freed up to learn new concepts such as Newton's Laws and energy conservation because you've already absorbed and practiced the fundamentals. By the time you reach the end of the book, you'll even be sending people into space. We teach you what you need to know at the point where it becomes important, as that's when it has the most value. Yes—even the math!

We cover the same general set of topics that are in the mechanics sections of the AP Physics B and A Level curriculums

While we focus on the overall learning experience rather than exam preparation, we provide good coverage of the mechanics sections of the AP Physics B and A Level curriculums, as well as the practical side of experiments and data analysis in physics. This means that as you work your way through the topics, you gain a deeper understanding that will help you get a good grade in whatever exam you're taking. You'll also learn how to break down complicated problems into simpler ones that you already know how to do. This is a far more effective way of learning physics than rote memorization, as you'll feel confident about tackling any problem even when you haven't seen one exactly like it before.

Advance Reviews

"If you want to learn some physics, but you think itís too difficult, buy this book! It will probably help, and if it doesnít, you can always use it as a doorstop or hamster bedding or something. I wish I had a copy of this book when I was teaching physics."
—John Allister, physics teacher

"Head First Physics has achieved the impossible—a serious textbook that makes physics fun. Students all over will be thinking like a physicist!"
—Georgia Gale Grant, freelance science writer, communicator and broadcaster

"Great graphics, clear explanations and some crazy real world problems to solve! This text is full of strategies and tips to attack problems. It encourages a team approach thatís so essential in todayís work world."
—Diane Jaquith, high school physics, chemistry and physical science teacher

"This is an outstandingly good teacher masquerading as a physics book! You never feel phased if you donít quite understand something the first time because you know it will be explained again in a different way and then repeated and reinforced."
—Marion Lang, teacher

"This book takes you by the hand and guides you through the world of physics."
—Catriona Lang, teacher

"Head First Physics really rocks—I never thought it was possible to enjoy learning physics so much! This book is about understanding and not about rote learning, so you can get to grips with the physics and remember it much better as a result."
—Alice Pitt-Pitts

"Head First Physics' best feature is to recognize that not everyone's brain works the same way. Does learning Physics feel like watching a play written in Martian, with a plot that makes no sense, while the rest of the audience is laughing and clapping along? Head First helps you climb into the story where you can see it, hear it, act it out and grasp it."
—Philip (flip) Kromer, infochimps.org, University of Texas, Austin
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Buy 2 books, get 1 free!

Buy 2 books and get the third free! Use the coupon code OPC10 when you check out.

Try it!

(See Chapter 20 of Head First Physics)

Your job is to work out which variables (mass of pendulum bob, length of string, amplitude of swing) affect the frequency and period of a pendulum. This is a completely open-ended investigation—you can go about it however you like, designing and doing your own experiments, drawing your own graphs and writing up your conclusions.

Submit your writeup to talkback@headfirstlabs.com. We'll pick our favorite entries and send out some Head First prizes!

Who is this book for?

If you can answer "yes" to all of these:

  • Do you have access to a pen and a scientific calculator?

  • Do you want to learn and understand physics by doing, rather than by reading, whether you need to pass an exam at the end or not?
  • Do you prefer chatting with friends about interesting things to dry, dull, academic lectures?

You should probably back away from this book if you can answer "yes" to any of these:

  • Are you someone who's never studied basic algebra? (You don't need to be advanced, but you should be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide. We'll cover everything else you need to know about math and physics.)
  • Are you a physics ninja looking for a reference book?
  • Are you afraid to try something different? Would you rather have a root canal than mix stripes with plaid? Do you believe that a physics book can't be serious if it involves implementing a training schedule for thoroughbred hamster racing?


Ask the authors questions and chat with fellow readers in the Head First Physics Forum.