The CD-ROM allows material sufficient for a bulky and expensive book to be presented in a accesible and convenient form. The CD-ROM and book are significantly interrelated. The book by itself provides the foundation, but for further insights, self-tests and references to the literature, the student is referred to the CD-ROM. The CD-ROM is organised into the 16 Chapters of the book, and contains a brief summary of each Chapter.
The printed book is suited for beginners, but is linked to more meaty Note material on the CD-ROM for slightly more advanced students. This helps bridge the present discontinuity between introductory texts and high-level books for specialists.
Use of CD-ROMs is the way of the future for learning, because the many links to other material or to graphics are made conveniently, in a way that is transparent for the user. The user can test his/her understanding through a large number of multiple choice questions and numerical short-answer questions.
While the student will enjoy browsing through the Notes, searching for a reference or solving problems, the teacher will benefit from the series of teaching suggestions added to each Chapter. Practical experiments are described as well, for use either in the lecture theatre or in the field.
The CD-ROM contains 172 Notes on topics in the book, with 31 drawings and 16 tables. It has about 150 simple equations, ie many more than the book, yet they are all simple in form. Corresponding to each of the 16 chapters of the book, the CD-ROM includes a summary of the book material, the Notes, recommendations of further reading, multiple-choice questions (with answers), essay questions, numerical exercises (with answers), suggestions to teachers and practical experiments. Finally, there is a list of the many hundreds of references consulted in writing the book.