Ross Dempsey, TJ ’16, and Shankar Balasubramanian, TJ ’15, now a freshman at MIT, got to know each other through participating on TJ’s Physics Team, which meets during 8th period. By the time Ross was a junior and Shankar was a senior, both were giving lectures to the Team’s most advanced group. Shankar had started writing two book chapters based on his lectures when he asked Ross if he was interested in collaborating. Over the last two years, working mainly over winter and summer breaks, the two completed and published a full-fledged summary of mechanics, complete with a few advanced derivations and techniques that are often skipped.
The 650-page paperback, titled Mechanics: An Extended Introduction, covers an unusually broad range of topics. Six chapters of primarily introductory material are accompanied by eight more advanced chapters – many based on Physics Team lectures – covering such varied topics as the dynamics of spinning tops, the properties of planetary orbits, the intricate behaviors exhibited by waves, and the theory of special relativity. The book contains over 250 figures, illustrated by Ross, and over 200 challenging problems, compiled by Shankar, to help students hone their problem-solving skills.
Published by CreateSpace, the book has been available on Amazon since mid-February. The authors appreciate the substantive input they received from TJ math teacher Dr. Jonathan Osborne and TJ math and computer science teacher Dr. Peter Gabor, as well as their friends’ assistance with editing and proofreading.
When asked how they managed to add such a major project to their very full schedules, Ross admitted that it was sometimes difficult to find the time, especially near the end of the project, but that the prospect of being completely finished kept them going. “We’re hoping that motivated high-school students and undergraduates will get useful training and enjoyable challenges from our book,” Ross said.