Physics from Symmetry: Superb Book for Learning QM & More

In summary, the conversation on the physics book "Quantum Mechanics from Symmetry" covers various opinions and concerns about the book's content, author, and publisher. While some recommend the book highly for its unifying approach to symmetry in QM, others express skepticism about the author's background and the publisher's standards. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of thorough research and evaluation when considering purchasing a book on a complex subject like quantum mechanics.
  • #36
dextercioby said:
The author is a kid and that says it all.
Well, Pauli was also a kid when he has written a book on relativity (both special and general). Yet, it is still considered one of the best books on relativity ever written.

Speaking of kids, Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica, has written a review of weak interactions in particle physics when he was a kid. This review can be found by google, but I cannot tell how good it is.
 
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  • #37
Demystifier said:
Well, Pauli was also a kid when he has written a book on relativity (both special and general). Yet, it is still considered one of the best books on relativity ever written. [...]

He was 20 when he wrote it and 21 when published. It was the first monograph on General Relativity (appeared in the same year with the one by Max von Laue) and it is very good, even though it is written with no differential geometry content. But you can't expect that any physics undergraduate in Germany being offered the chance of a lifetime (i.e. publish a book on science at Springer Verlag) turn out to be a prodigy and a future Nobel Prize winner.
 
  • #38
dextercioby said:
He was 20 when he wrote it and 21 when published. It was the first monograph on General Relativity (appeared in the same year with the one by Max von Laue) and it is very good, even though it is written with no differential geometry content. But you can't expect that any physics undergraduate in Germany being offered the chance of a lifetime (i.e. publish a book on science at Springer Verlag) turn out to be a prodigy and a future Nobel Prize winner.
OK, fair enough, but answer this one. If the book is so bad, why do so many people (on this forum at least) find the book very good? There must be something about that book that looks appealing and I would like to know what that something is.
 
  • #39
Don't ask me, I find it appalling that books get passed an editor's proofreading. It is ridiculous to ask a 22 yo to write a book then publish it with 100 errors in it.
The material in this book is found in a dozen other books, but I presume it's the relatively low level of mathematics that is a magnet for some readers.
 
  • #40
dextercioby said:
Don't ask me, I find it appalling that books get passed an editor's proofreading. It is ridiculous to ask a 22 yo to write a book then publish it with 100 errors in it.
The material in this book is found in a dozen other books, but I presume it's the relatively low level of mathematics that is a magnet for some readers.
You have mentioned that errors are not only technical (which are probably easy to fix), but also conceptual. Can you pinpoint to some of the conceptual errors?
 
  • #41
Demystifier said:
You have mentioned that errors are not only technical (which are probably easy to fix), but also conceptual. Can you pinpoint to some of the conceptual errors?

I have now gone through the book.

It has technical errors, but gee so do other textbooks I read - its in fact a good exercise picking them up. It is also too cumbersome in places - I can find more elegant explanations to replace some of the long calculations he does.

But actually wrong - not so sure about that. Its advantage is exactly what I said. A professor that posts here has said, and IMHO its totally true as far as reactions go - it was mine when I learned about it and had a very deep effect on me - when he teaches Noether's Theorem there is stunned silence as its import sinks in. This whole book is built around that famous theorem at a level 2-3 year undergrads would understand. It contains nothing new - but being exposed to exactly why the Higgs theoretically was thought to exist and other areas not usually at the undergrad level is very uplifting. And for many that genuinely likes theoretical physics seeing the importance of symmetry early on is - well uplifting.

It's like Landau - Mechanics. It contains nothing new - but is presented in such a brilliant, different and concise manner you sit in awe - all physicists should study it. Of course this guy is nowhere in Landau's class but like Landaus book, its different perspective is so inspiring.

Thanks
Bill
 
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  • #42
That's really ridiculous. The book was written very early in the history of relativity (15 years from Einstein's SR paper and just 5 years from the final formulation of GR), and not only given that it's very good. It's written by a physicist, and that it is not overwhelmingly differential geometrical is rather a good than a bad point. The only thing, I'd consider outdated in this book is the treatment of thermodynamics. Nowadays we consider temperature and chemical potential to be scalars, and that's how these quantities should be considered, but these issues were settled in the 1960ies only. Otherwise you can pretty well use this book to learn about SR and GR from it even nearly 100 years later!

Another masterpiece of Pauli's is the book on quantum mechanics. Although from the 1930ies it's astonishingly up to date.
 
  • #43
bhobba said:
I have now gone through the book.

It has technical errors, but gee so do other textbooks I read - its in fact a good exercise picking them up. It is also too cumbersome in places - I can find more elegant explanations to replace some of the long calculations he does.
Bill
I don't know, what you mean. It's been some time I've looked into Pauli's relativity book, but I cannot remember that I found any technical errors. Can you point specifically to some? I wish more textbooks today had the quality of Pauli's book!
 
  • #44
vanhees71 said:
I don't know, what you mean. It's been some time I've looked into Pauli's relativity book, but I cannot remember that I found any technical errors. Can you point specifically to some? I wish more textbooks today had the quality of Pauli's book!
That was not about the Pauli's book.
 
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  • #45
Demystifier said:
That was not about the Pauli's book.

No it wasn't. Its not even approaching the class of those all time classics.

It's far from perfect. Why I like is it is a different take on physics not usually presented at the level of its intended audience ie the importance of symmetry unifying all of physics. It was written by a 22 yo masters degree candidate so don't expect anything Earth shattering. Guys like Pauli etc are very very rare and this guy is no Pauli.

If you like it as I do - great - if you don't - that's great as well. Its just different.

We have a number of professors that post here - they may or may not use it in their classes, but what I can say for sure is the ideas it presents would have been of great value to me if I was taught it second or third year of my degree. So maybe, perhaps not using this book, something along those line could be done.

Another similar book at that level, although it doesn't cover as much material, is:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0801896940/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I have a copy - and really like it as well.

Have a look at:


She wanted to be a writer. But after being exposed to Noether saw the real beauty of physics. Want more people to study physics? Expose them to these ideas early on. That's why I like these books - physics real beauty can be taught a bit earlier than is usually done. I don't mean hand-wavy pseudo science - but the real deal. These ideas were life changing for me, for the girl in the video and if exposed to it I suspect for many others. She wanted to be a writer - me applied math - but physics real essence and beauty had me hooked once I understood it.

Thanks
Bill
 
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  • #46
What is the name of this book by a guy named Ballentine that many of you are talking about?
 
  • #47
L. E. Ballentine, Quantum Mechanics, World Scientific,
Singapore, New Jersey, London, Hong Kong (1998).

This RMP is about his "minimal statistical interpretation":

L. E. Ballentine, The Statistical Interpretation of Quantum
Mechanics, Rev. Mod. Phys. 42, 358 (1970),
https://doi.org/10.1103/RevModPhys.42.358.
 
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  • #48
Thanks. Which one is better for symmetries and gauge theory?
 
  • #49
The book is of course better for symmetries, because the paper is just on the foundations of quantum theory. The book is the best source to learn about Gailei symmetry in quantum mechanics I know.

It's not particularly about gauge theory. Here I'd rather take some textbook on relativistic QFT, where the subject usually is treated (both the Abelian case for QED and the non-Abelian case for QCD and QFD). Here, I'd recommend

M. D. Schwartz, Quantum field theory and the Standard
Model, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York
(2014).
 
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