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Good Introductory Books

  1. Jan 5, 2007 #1
    Hello, i'm a high-school student with a deep interest in partical physics and such. I would love to be able to read a good introductory book about it. I do Love math, and have taught myself a bit of calculus, but i also understand how difficult the mathematics of this theory involves.

    So any good books out there that would help would be great!

    I have:

    The Quantum Quark -- Reading Now
    Deep Down Things -- Read a while ago, would have a better understanding if i read it again, i'm going to
    Elegant Universe -- Have the book, have not read it, saw the NOVA special
    Q Is For Quantum -- This ones more of a reference, i flip through it from time to time.


    So any other good ones would be great,

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2007 #2
  4. Jan 6, 2007 #3
    DougD720:” i'm a high-school student with a deep interest in partical physics and such. I would love to be able to read a good introductory book about it.”

    A.Einstein and L. Infeld “The Evolution of Physics”
     
  5. Jan 6, 2007 #4

    CarlB

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    Feynman, "QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter", $7.70 at Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/QED-Strange-Theory-Light-Matter/dp/0691024170

    Blurbs on back:

    "Physics Nobelist Feynman simply cannot help being original. In this quirky, fascinating book, he explains to laymen the quantum theory of light -- a theory to which he made decisive contributions"

    "In four conversational and breezy chapters ... Richard Feynman, who himself gave the theory its most useful and powerful form, undertakes without one equation to explain QED to the generality of readers."

    "Richard Feynman's brief QED or 'Quantum electrodynamics' is another tour de force by the acknowledged master of clear explanation in physics."

    "QED will challenge the mind; it gives insight into everyday phenomena through extraordinary physics from one of the best teachers and practioners of the science."

    "Feynman's lectures must have been marvellous and they have been turned into an equally entrancing book, a vivid introduction to QED which is leavened and enlivened by his wit. Anyone with a curiousity about physics today should buy it, not only to get to grips with the deepest meaning of quantum theory, but to possess a slice of history."

    To get a handle on quantum field theory, which underlies particle physics, you should get this inexpensive book. It covers the theory, from a calculational point of view, but without the painful mathematics, and as such, is great for maintaining motivation to learn the mathematics. Only Feynman could have written this book.
     
  6. Jan 6, 2007 #5
    CarlB, come on! He is still a high-school student.
     
  7. Jan 6, 2007 #6
    Feynman's QED is a pop-sci book, not to be confused with his book Quantum Electrodynamics. It should be accessible to a bright high school student.
     
  8. Jan 6, 2007 #7

    CarlB

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    Feynman's "Quantum Electrodynamics" is very hard to understand. His QED book, on the other hand, could very well have been written with high school students in mind. I just wish someone had pointed it out to me when I was 13, as it explains a lot about how QED works.

    Only Feynman could describe summing perturbation series without actually confusing anyone or talking over their heads (like I just did). He describes complex numbers as arrows, where one adds up a bunch of arrows, and then takes the squared magnitude. But he really does this in a way that is to be understood by EVERYONE.

    Heck, I wish I'd known of the book back when I was a math grad student, before I started studying physics. It would have explained a lot.

    I seem to recall some quote attributed to Feynman that if you can't explain your physics idea to high school students, you don't really understand it.
     
  9. Jan 6, 2007 #8
    CarlB:” I just wish someone had pointed it out to me when I was 13, as it explains a lot about how QED works.”

    When I was 14, I read three books:

    1.Herman Hesse "The Glass Bead Game".
    2.J.S.Hadamard “ Elementary Geometry” (Russian translation of Lecons de Geometrie Elementaire ).
    3.A.Einstein and L. Infeld “The Evolution of Physics”.

    Then I started studying physics.

    CarlB:” I seem to recall some quote attributed to Feynman that if you can't explain your physics idea to high school students, you don't really understand it.”

    Vanesch:” Or, to quote the same Feynman: "nobody understands quantum mechanics".

    However, I agree with you. When I was a phys third year student, my personal teacher Prof. V.N.Gribov required the attendance of all his seminars even without understanding a single word (quotation). My Teacher teached me two things:how not to understand and physical optics.

    CarlB:” He describes complex numbers as arrows, where one adds up a bunch of arrows, and then takes the squared magnitude. But he really does this in a way that is to be understood by EVERYONE.”

    I do not understand that and never did. This is irrelevant for the physics abstraction made by stupid mathematicians. Instead, they were required to understand that the new mathematical object enter into the Game (matrices) and that the proper generalization of usual multiplication rule is required. Then one will have x^2>0 as needed for the measure and the measurement theory (metric space:geometry).

    I consider the above point crucial for understanding of the Quantum Theory and why it is formulated in terms of wave packets (exp(i*phi)=cos(phi)+i*sin(phi):two component wave packet and/or two-level QM system).

    Unfortunately, somebody moved our discussion into “Science Book Reviews”. It seems to me that this point was never discussed in literature.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2007
  10. Jan 6, 2007 #9

    mathwonk

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    lets hear it for stupid mathematicians! without us, physics would be too easy. then anyone could do it.
     
  11. Jan 6, 2007 #10
    You should understand me properly. Not always the mathematicians are stupid. I also familiar with Dedekind, Hurwitz,Hilbert,Clifford,Galua,Abel,Lie, Levi-Civita, Cartan, Minkowski,Weyl,Zorn,..., etc.In that competition I doubt the physicists would win. The above QED and QFT are the examples.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2007
  12. Jan 6, 2007 #11

    CarlB

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    The geometrization of complex numbers is a part of the book I'm writing:
    http://www.brannenworks.com/dmaa.pdf

    I haven't been working on it for the last few weeks because I've been typing up a paper that I will send to Foundations of Physics, but I'll get back to it soon enough. The geometrization of the complex numbers of QM is fairly early in the above, which defines QM based on the operator algebra and avoids spinors completely. It is the spinors that take arbitrary complex phases, not the operators.

    One result is that the arrows associated with a particular calculation turn out to be incompatible with the arrows for other calculations. That is, the complex numbers one uses for one perturbation calculation are not the same complex numbers as one uses for another calculation. The complex numbers instead live in a space determined by the initial and final states, so when you change either of these you end up with a different complex number and a different calculation.

    It's just as well they removed this from the QM forum, where the people, who believe what they were taught and naught else, tend to hammer down any nails that stick up.

    Carl
     
  13. Jan 7, 2007 #12
  14. Jan 8, 2007 #13
    Well I do believe I am hearing many pop-sci titles being tossed around (not all of them...but quite a few), and I believe the question was referring to something a little more, I don't know, "work-ish." Perhaps, like a textbook?

    If one is looking for a good text book to start getting a handle on these things, I would refer one to check out any decent modern physics textbook, and start working through it. It's general, but it gets you use to seeing mathematics with it. My suggestion on a Modern Physics book- Modern Physics by Blatt. Its not horrible, has a fairly concise means of getting to the point, and also a decent number of examples to help you get a feel for the subject (by no means will you "know" the subject when you finish, but some ground work will have been laid).

    After working through the general Modern Physics text, just go to you local science book store (or Amazon.com), and go to the particle physics section.

    Good luck!
     
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