I believed that i understood Classical Mechanics. When i look back i see this idea originated when i was preparing for IIT-JEE. Since i could solve mechanics problems from H.C. Verma, Resnick and Halliday, and a few from I.E. Irodov, i thought i was the king of classical mechanics. Years later even when i took a graduate course on Mechanics (Goldstein) i felt the same. The techniques of solving problems changed but it was all the same mechanics.
Someone (I think it was Shakir) once told me about an excellent but extremely difficult Russian text on mechanics. It was titled “Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics” by V.I. Arnold. As i was the greatest Physicist the earth has ever seen (i really believed so), i quickly grabbed a copy of this text from my library. That night i sat down with this book, a few pages and a pen, determined to finish a chapter or two.
The next one hour changed me.
I realized how little i knew. I realized there is much more than just being able to solve problems. I realized power of a different viewpoint, the power of geometry.
Ever since then, Arnold became a God for me and his books became the sacred texts. The untimely death of Prof. Arnold on 3rd June, 2010 (aged 72) is a huge loss to Physics community worldwide. It’s a shame that American Physical Society (APS) didn’t even cared to publish an Obituary in any of their publications.
My first post is dedicated to my hero prof V.I. Arnold. His works and texts have guided and given insight to generations of Physicists and Mathematicians and will keep on doing so till eternity.