You Need This Book: Serway, Jewett, Wilson and Wilson
I would like to take this opportunity to run some advertising. A wonderful new Physics textbook was recently published here in Australia. It is called Physics: Asia-Pacific Edition by Serway, Jewett, Wilson and Wilson (ISBN-10: 0170189309 ISBN-13: 9780170189309). It is a localised version of the well-known US Physics text Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway and Jewett, but it is more than that. Not only has every single reference to baseball been replaced by a reference to cricket, not only does it drive on the left and spell ‘colour’ with a ‘u’, but it contains a series of case studies by Australian scientists, covering topics like the Australian Synchrotron, how the didjeridu works, and how to shear sheep without straining your back. I mean, how Australian can you get?
You may scoff and ask: is it really necessary to localise a Physics text?
“Are Newton’s Laws different in the southern hemisphere?” I hear you guffaw, amazed at your own wit.
Well, no. But science does not take place in a cultural vacuum, despite our best efforts to the contrary. While we work hard to make sure that the results of an experiment are independent of who is doing it and where, we have students who are doing their degrees with one eye on the job market, and who don’t know where the career might take them and what opportunities they might have. Science is a deeply human endeavour — it is about humanity collectively increasing its understanding of itself and its environment — and putting a human face on it, and a relevant and local one, is very valuable. Most students using a first year Physics text will not go on and become Physicists, or professional partisans for science in any capacity. But it would be good if they walked away with a strong sense of the contribution that Physics makes to people’s lives, on every level from the sheer wonder of cosmology to the incredibly practical — like developing new imaging techniques that can save your life.
That they also walk away knowing some topic content is handy too, I guess.
Oh yes, and I should note for conflict-of-interest reasons: One of the author’s is my wife