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Good book to break into quantum mechanics

  1. Jul 26, 2011 #1
    so im just finishing up hawkins a brief history of the universe, and while dated, it was a good read. im looking for something to break me into quantum mechanics. everything i see/hear about it intrigues me and i need to know more. i need advice on a good book to break me into it. im not looking for a textbook persay, but more of a book thats along the lines of a brief history of the universe. ive taken my first year of physics, as well as calc 1-3, but no linear or diff eqs yet (taking linear this semester).
     
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  3. Jul 26, 2011 #2

    Demystifier

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    Try B. Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos
     
  4. Jul 26, 2011 #3
    If you have a calculus background, get "The Odd Quantum" by Sam Treiman. Its not exactly popular science as it has quite a bit of equations (which, by the way, can be skipped without hurting the follow of the text), but, it is supposed to be for someone who knows some math and wants to get a proper overview of actual quantum theory, all the way up to quantum fields and standard model. Highly recommended!
     
  5. Jul 26, 2011 #4

    xts

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    I would recommend classics: "Feynman's Lectures on Physics" - vol.3 is fully devoted to QM. Perfect book at introductory level.
     
  6. Jul 26, 2011 #5

    Demystifier

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    Saim and xts, I don't think that your recommendations are compatible with his wishes:
    (Of course, he means "A brief history of time".)
     
  7. Jul 26, 2011 #6

    xts

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    I hardly can imagine anything more compatible :confused:
    Feynman's lecture is a popular lecture (it was originally designed as intro course for non-physics students) rather than academic textbook. It is focused on intuitions, understanding, ideas and meanings, rather than on mathematical formalisms.

    I don't recommend Laundau and Lifgarbagez's Quantum Mechanics - that would be deserve to be criticized for incompatibility :devil:
     
  8. Jul 26, 2011 #7

    Demystifier

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    Come on, Feynman lectures contain many equations, even if they are not the focus. By constrast, Hawking's "brief history" contains only one (E=mc^2). How can they be on the same level? Or perhaps you meant Feynman's "The character of the physical law"? Yes, "the character" (but not "the lectures") is a good POPULAR book which may very well be what gbux needs.
     
  9. Jul 26, 2011 #8
    I agree Feynman's lectures are inappropriate for the requirement but I stand by my own recommendation :D I used Treiman's book as a first, slightly non-popular, intro.
     
  10. Jul 26, 2011 #9
  11. Jul 26, 2011 #10
    I recommend "The God Particle" by Leon Lederman. It's a light-weight, humorous introduction to particle physics and the quest for the Higgs Boson. You will learn a lot about the past experimenters and their contribution to physics, the mysterious stuff that is matter, what particle accelerators do, nature's broken symmetry and more along the way.

    If you would like to see first hand, the 7 part lectures of Feynman at Cornell, head to
    http://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/tuva/index.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  12. Jul 26, 2011 #11

    EWH

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    The best book on quantum mechanics that has real content and will train your intuition without getting bogged down in math is Feynman's "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter". https://www.amazon.com/QED-Strange-Princeton-Science-Library/dp/0691125759

    Note that while he says he's talking about particles, he's really describing waves (the phase of the rotating "pointers" he uses is a description of wave propagation, but considering only one moving point at a time, rather than all the points of the wave at once. This makes things easier to follow, but sweeps one of the main bits of real weirdness under the rug: why do quanta always propagate only as waves and interact only as particles? (One can interpret the lines of Feynman diagrams as wave propagation and the junctions as particle interactions.)

    ***
    You can watch some relates lectures by Feynman in New Zealand at: http://vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8
    It really gets going about 18 minutes into the 2nd lecture.

    ***
    For understanding the math, it's better to study AC circuits first. The math is nearly identical - phases as complex numbers. Passive circuits (with resistors, capacitors, inductors, voltage and current sources) are represented as systems of equations set up according to conservation laws (Kirchoff's), which in turn become complex-valued matrices. This is then applied to the complex-valued spectral responses of filters and so forth. In QM these circuits and filters are made finer-grained (infinite circuit elements or continuous wavelength/momentum or time-domain/position descriptions=> infinite dimensional matrices) and the interpretation shifts to a probabilistic one, but the groundwork and most of the math is very similar. The difference is that in EE it seems to me that there is usually more of an effort in teaching to foster understanding rather than just symbol-shuffling facility.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  13. Jul 26, 2011 #12
    +1 for Treiman. Yes, he has more than one equation, but the math in it would not be the least bit daunting for the OP, who says he has taken Calc III.
     
  14. Jul 27, 2011 #13
    wow i really stirred something up here! i suppose i could put some big boy pants on and hop into a book with some equations in it, and if its too much too soon, bring it down a level. I really appreciate all the help everyone has given me so far, you guys are great. I can always pick up a couple books as well. ive been thinking its time to move past the pop sci genre and get into the real meat and potatoes, because in a lot of the books ive read (i used the hawkins book as one example) ive really started to overlap, as in when I read through a book a lot of what I read Ive seen elsewhere. Treiman seems like a nice stepping stone. Also, I heard somewhere whether it be in a documentary or book, that a lot of quantum mechanics is based in linear algebra. Is there any truth to this?
     
  15. Jul 27, 2011 #14
    Yes, its all linear algebra! though a little different from that taught in a first course. Not to worry however, anything beyond the standard linear algebra is taught along with the physics in all QM texts.
     
  16. Jul 29, 2011 #15
    awesome. im unbelievably excited to take linear this semester then, because QM has caught my attention from first hearing it
     
  17. Jul 30, 2011 #16
    Not so fast. I can believe it. (sorry, couldn't resist)
     
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