Case Studies/Motion Mountain - The Free Physics Textbook

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Adoption date unspecified
physics, textbook, motion, relativity, quantum theory, OER


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Page Importance: B-Class
Page Quality: Medium
A free 1600 page physics textbook written to be surprising and challenging on every page.

Exploring physics with this text is more fun than making love. — Christoph Schiller


Free physics texts are rare. This is one of them. The text starts with an uncommon, but clear definition of physics: physics is the science of motion. The project then takes the search for a precise description of motion as a guiding principle for an exploration of modern physics. This leads to a storyline which is somewhat different from the usual one. Nature's limits to speed, entropy, force, action and charge are central to the presentation.

The text is written for self-study. It tells a story; it is not a commented formula collection. In its teaching approach, the project tries to satisfy several needs. First of all, the explanations are written in a way that should appeal both to people who prefer thinking in images and to those that prefer thinking in words. Furthermore, the content has been selected to attract both male and female readers. Next, the text is written to appeal to composer and to competitor characters. The text also tries to cater both for the experimentally and the theoretically inclined. Finally, the story should appeal to those who like the natural sciences and to those who like the humanities.

This free textbook is entertaining, surprising and challenging on every page. With little mathematics, starting from observations of everyday life, the text presents the most fascinating aspects of things that move. It explores mechanics, thermodynamics, special and general relativity, electrodynamics, quantum theory and modern attempts at unification. The essence of these fields is summarized in the most simple terms possible. For example, the text presents modern physics as consequence of the notions of minimum entropy, maximum speed, maximum force, minimum change of charge and minimum action

License Usage

The text uses a CC-NC-ND license. There is a slight modification on the topic of usage, to close a loophole in the wording of the license.


Across all languages, physics is the science with the worst textbooks. This project wants to change this, by producing a simple, vivid and up-to-date introduction to modern physics. 'Simple' means that concepts are stressed more than formalism; 'vivid' means that the reader is continuously entertained, motivated and challenged; 'up-to-date' means that modern research and present ideas about unification are included. The subtitle of the text, The Adventure of Physics, sums up these three aspects.


The text is a 1600 page pdf file; it includes 600 photographs and drawings and about 20 embedded films. It also includes 900 clickable internet links to additional material.