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Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics

  1. Nov 23, 2009 #1
    Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    Is Dirac's http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10194741" the best physics book since the Principia? Thanks
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2009 #2
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    The The Principia is horrible! I am sure Dirac's book had some merit at the time, but that was before Shanker cane out.
  4. Nov 23, 2009 #3
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    Definetely not. I put my money on David bohm's quantum theory
  5. Nov 23, 2009 #4
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I have the quantum theory by bohm. I used it last year along with griffiths while taking my first intro QM course. Bohm expects you to know classical mechanics and E&M. In fact, he used E&M in the first chapter actually. So I think its better to stick with Griffiths or Shankar for an comprehensive introduction to QM. Especially if you are not familiar in basic E&M. But then the Bohm book is so cheap that you can't really beat it. (Reason I bought it in the first place heheh)
  6. Nov 24, 2009 #5
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    Just a little context: I read Griffiths when I first learned quantum and Mertzbacher and Cohn-Tannoudji as a more advanced text. I really liked Cohn-Tannoudji as a textbook. Now that I know quantum at the intermediate level, Dirac's Principles is very good; the first chapter alone is worth the price of the book, but everything else—from his introduction of the Dirac δ function all the way to his derivation of the Dirac equation—is very concisely and beautifully written. I wanted to start this thread to figure out why there seems to be so many adverse reactions to Dirac's Principles.
  7. Nov 24, 2009 #6
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I have heard that one is good, too. Is it suited for those who already have some quantum experience?
  8. Nov 24, 2009 #7
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    He just assumes that the reader should know: classical mechanics, calculus and differential equations and the basics of linear algebra. I don't even think the book requires to have prior knowledge of modern physics, the book is so self-contained .What I like best about Bohm's book is that he explains why the laws of classical mechanics in the area of the universe and why scientists must developed an entirely new set of laws to explain the strange new physical phenomena occuring at the subatomic realm. He also goes into detain of how the quantum mechanics experiments where conducted and developed. Whereas QM books written by Peebles fail to present a mindset for the student to transition from a CM mindset to a QM mindset, and expects us just to easily accept that a schrodinger's equation is apt at explaining subatomic phenomena better than Newton's laws of motion without an explanation why the former is superior to the latter.
  9. Nov 24, 2009 #8
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I still think Dirac's Principles is probably better; it was written ~20 years before Bohm, is more significant historically, and gives so much insight into quantum in only ~300 pages, half of Bohm's book. Dirac doesn't assume much from the reader's physics background, either.
  10. Nov 26, 2009 #9
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    Physics books are not philosophy or other classical literature. The older a physics book is, the more irrelevant it gets. There are some exceptions, but Dirac is not one of them. Shanker is similar to Dirac, but has a more modern insight.
  11. Nov 27, 2009 #10
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I disagree.
  12. Dec 2, 2009 #11


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    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I think the poll results are skewed by the fact that some responders mention first level books that don't come close to Dirac. I think Griffith's (Ask him.) and Bohm would acknowledge that Dirac is better, but they have tried to dumb it down it for undergraduates.
  13. Dec 3, 2009 #12
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    That is for sure.
  14. Dec 15, 2009 #13
    Re: Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics"

    I am currently reading Principles (along with Griffith's book) to teach myself quantum mechanics (after hilariously oversubscribing myself and being forced to drop the quantum mechanics section I was taking this semester), and have found it quite a neat book so far. The writing is much better than the textbook we were using in class, and I find it rather interesting to see him slowly developing the bra-ket notation and his delta function. Some of the results are quite presaging; for example, when he showed that in general a complete set of eigenkets could be expressed as a sum of discrete eigenkets and an integral over a continuous range, it was obvious that that would later show up in the quantization of electron energy levels, and the continuous electron spectrum outside of atoms.

    I can't really compare it to Griffith's or Bohm's because I haven't looked at the former yet and wasn't solid enough on the right kind of math to follow the latter completely. I'd say it's quite a good book and immensely better than the text we were using in class, Gasiorowicz, though.
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