Michael Spivak
Born
Queens, New York, The United States
Website
Genre
Calculus
14 editions
—
published
1967
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Calculus On Manifolds: A Modern Approach To Classical Theorems Of Advanced Calculus
10 editions
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published
1965
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A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Vol. 1
6 editions
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published
1970
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to Calculus
2 editions
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published
1995
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A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Volume 3
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published
1999



A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Volume 2
3 editions
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published
2005
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A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Volume 5
2 editions
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published
1999
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Answer Book to Calculus
5 editions
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published
1984
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A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry, Volume 4
—
published
1999



Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I
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published
2010


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“For many years I have been saying that I would like to write a book (or series of books) called Physics for Mathematicians. Whenever I would tell people that, they would say, “Oh good, you're going to explain quantum mechanics, or string theory, or something like that”. And I would say, “Well that would be nice, but I can't begin to do that now; first I have to learn elementary physics, so the first thing I will be writing will be Mechanics for Mathematicians”. So then people would say, “Ah, so you're going to be writing about symplectic structures”, or something of that sort. And I would have to say, “No, I'm not trying to write a book about mathematics for mathematicians, I'm trying to write a book about physics for mathematicians”; …… it's elementary mechanics that I don't understand. … I mean, for example, that I don't understand this – lever.
... Most of us know the law of the lever, but this law is simply a quantitative statement of exactly how amazing the lever is, and doesn't give us a clue as to why it is true, how such a small force at one end can exert such a great force at the other.
Now physicists all agree that Newton's Three Laws are the basis from which all of mechanics follows, but if you ask for an explanation of the lever in terms of these three laws, you will almost certainly not get a satisfactory answer.”
―
... Most of us know the law of the lever, but this law is simply a quantitative statement of exactly how amazing the lever is, and doesn't give us a clue as to why it is true, how such a small force at one end can exert such a great force at the other.
Now physicists all agree that Newton's Three Laws are the basis from which all of mechanics follows, but if you ask for an explanation of the lever in terms of these three laws, you will almost certainly not get a satisfactory answer.”
―
“... who can forget the amazement of a child balancing an adult on a seesaw, simply by being placed at the right position. How could this be? Where did all that extra force come from!?
The only wonder nowadays is that a physics student is unlikely to produce a satisfactory answer to this question. Perhaps we will be offered a few mumblings about moments, force times distance, laws of the lever perhaps even the "principle of virtual work". But we probably won't get an answer that seems to explain where that extra force comes from; and it is highly unlikely that we will get an answer that begins by establishing principles about rigid bodies, even though the rigidity of the lever is an absolute necessity for it to work.
In fact, the whole path from Newton's Laws, which basically concern "point masses", to bodies whose shape and extent are significant, is often rather dubiously traversed, even though elementary physics courses blithely pose such problems of the most diverse sorts.”
― Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I
The only wonder nowadays is that a physics student is unlikely to produce a satisfactory answer to this question. Perhaps we will be offered a few mumblings about moments, force times distance, laws of the lever perhaps even the "principle of virtual work". But we probably won't get an answer that seems to explain where that extra force comes from; and it is highly unlikely that we will get an answer that begins by establishing principles about rigid bodies, even though the rigidity of the lever is an absolute necessity for it to work.
In fact, the whole path from Newton's Laws, which basically concern "point masses", to bodies whose shape and extent are significant, is often rather dubiously traversed, even though elementary physics courses blithely pose such problems of the most diverse sorts.”
― Physics for Mathematicians: Mechanics I
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