Many physics teachers have recognized that the standard, calculus-based freshman physics course has stagnated, with texts today looking much like they did 50 years ago and student interest at a low point. A reform movement has developed in the last decade to attempt to remedy this situation, with some reformers trying to teach the conventional materials in an unconventional way, and others trying to introduce new material.
My own view is that most prospective physicists as well as many other students are attracted to physics by the dramatic and fascinating ideas of astrophysics, cosmology, particle physics, etc. Many of these students are irrevocably turned off by the standard freshman sequence of mechanics, thermodynamics, E&M, optics, with a touch of `modern' (i. e., early 20th century) physics at the end. One has to ask whether we as physicists and physics teachers are actively trying to kill our profession!
The usual excuse for the standard course is that mechanics is the basis of everything else, and that one has to learn it first. The text presented below challenges that assumption. Starting with waves and relativity, I attempt to develop all of physics in a modern context rather than adding a bit of modern physics at the end. I hope that the result at least stimulates thinking on this important issue.
This text is now published by the New Mexico Tech Press.
Here is information on my quantum mechanics on a computer course.