Physics From Symmetry

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  • #1
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Superb, utterly superb.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/3319192000/?tag=pfamazon01-20

Got my copy this morning. Only quibble is I would have done relativity this way:
http://www2.physics.umd.edu/~yakovenk/teaching/Lorentz.pdf

But what was chosen is still good.

QM is developed from symmetry, the only thing not derived is the Born Rule. QM is simply group theory applied to a complex field just as mechanics is group theory applied to particles.

Very very highly recommended.

Must be done after a course is multi-variable calculus and linear algebra, but that's all. However I would study something like Susskind first.

You want to learn QM and a lot of other physics as well this is your book. Like the Feynman Lectures get it and devour it.

Thanks
Bill
 
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  • #2
sandy stone
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Sounds like a possible Christmas present for me. I noticed one of the Amazon reviewers complained about errors in the text (everybody else loved it). Did you come across any in your edition?
 
  • #3
dextercioby
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Well, let's judge it from what's available on the Amazon website.
The author is a kid and that says it all. Published this book while still in undergraduate school (according to this: https://www.ttp.kit.edu/memberpages/schwichtenberg and his personal website, he's reportedly enrolled for a PhD after the paper book was published by Springer!).

There's only one printing of the book being done (1 edition published in 2015) and more than 100 spelling, typographical and conceptual errors on the author's website: http://physicsfromsymmetry.com/errata/.
I could applaud the author's idea of coming up with a book presenting useful things in a wrong order (the way too sketchy intro's to QM and CM come towards the end of the book!), but the chaotic content of it all and the huge errata couldn't persuade me to open my wallet (actually buy it online with virtual money that my bank would transfer to Amazon's bank). As with anything on Amazon's website, the 5-star reviews are paid by the seller (in this case, Springer Verlag).

Bhobba, sorry to spoil your joy, the like to your post you got from me was only for the nice article on the Lorentz transformations you found on the internet.
 
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  • #4
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Hmmmmmm

Interesting view I don't entirely disagree with - I would have done it in a different order and certainly SR differently.

But, and this is the big BUT, putting it all together and seeing the unifying nature of symmetry and how it allies to pretty much everything real really did it for me.

In QM you derive the generators and introduce states later - rather different and enlightening to me.

I still give it my full recommendation. Interesting what others think.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #5
dextercioby
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[...]But, and this is the big BUT, putting it all together and seeing the unifying nature of symmetry and how it allies to pretty much everything real really did it for me. [...]

Ok, if you perceive this from the book, good for you.

[...]In QM you derive the generators and introduce states later - rather different and enlightening to me. [...]

But this is done in Ballentine's text, the algebra of fundamental observables is derived from the Galilei group of space-time transformations. How is this anyway improved (if at all) in this book? You call it "enlightening", but didn't you read Ballentine's book? I call THAT enlightening :)

Side remark: I still wonder how the editor from Springer did accept for publication a manuscript written by a student and not by a professor... @vanhees71 What do you think? Did you ever send any of your writings to a publisher?
 
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  • #6
Demystifier
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Side remark: I still wonder how the editor from Springer did accept for publication a manuscript written by a student and not by a professor... @vanhees71 What do you think? Did you ever sent any of your writings to a publisher?
In my experience, in recent years (last 10 years or so) Springer has very low criteria for accepting physics books for publication. I have seen several terrible physics books (and I don't count this book as "terrible") published recently by Springer.
 
  • #7
stevendaryl
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I'm very happy that the thread title changed. :wink:

In honor of Halloween, I would have spelled it "The Physics of Cemetery".
 
  • #8
vanhees71
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Ok, if you perceive this from the book, good for you.



But this is done in Ballentine's text, the algebra of fundamental observables is derived from the Galilei group of space-time transformations. How is this anyway improved (if at all) in this book? You call it "enlightening", but didn't you read Ballentine's book? I call THAT enlightening :)

Side remark: I still wonder how the editor from Springer did accept for publication a manuscript written by a student and not by a professor... @vanhees71 What do you think? Did you ever send any of your writings to a publisher?
No, I didn't, because I think it's a lot more work to improve these manuscripts such that I'd dare to publish them as textbooks. However, Springer contacted me once, whether I'd like to write a book. Obviously they are very eager to get lecture notes transferred into books.

What makes me a bit nervous is that Springer, a high-reputation textbook publisher in the past, publishes even crackpot books like the writings by Unzicker rambling against theoretical/mathematical physics in general and about "LHC physics" in particular. At a conference they had a little exhibition of textbooks and I confronted the representant there with my concern that such a book (which they even had at display at this conference; I don't remember which one it was, but it was a big conference on heavy-ion collisions and high-energy particle physics anyway) can get published in their renowned publishing company. The only answer he gave to me was that they "now have also a popular-science branche". I couldn't surpress to answer that in the 1920ies they already had a popular-science branch but at this time published books like Born's "Einstein's theory of relativity"...

On the other hand Springer still publishes very good books. There's a pretty new big theory book by Bartelmann et al (covering the entire BSc course, e.g., classical mechanics, E&M, QM, and Statistical Physics), which is simply marvelous and beautiful. There are also many more graduate-level textbooks which are very good. I don't know the particular book on symmetry. I'll check, whether I can download it via my university account.
 
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  • #13
Demystifier
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Is Bell's Bertelmann a real person?
Perhaps I was not clear enough. There is no Bell's Bertelmann and no Bell's Bartelmann. There is Bell's Bertlmann, and yes, he is a real expert in anomalies and he really wears socks of different color. I've met him once at a physics school in Austria, and I checked his socks by myself.
 
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  • #14
stevendaryl
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Perhaps I was not clear enough. There is no Bell's Bertelmann and no Bell's Bartelmann. There is Bell's Bertlmann, and yes, he is a real expert in anomalies and he really wears socks of different color. I've met him once at a physics school in Austria, and I checked his socks by myself.

Oh, you were making a SPELLING comment. In a thread that was originally entitled "Physics from Symetry". (Or did I just imagine that?)
 
  • #15
Nugatory
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Oh, you were making a SPELLING comment. In a thread that was originally entitled "Physics from Symetry". (Or did I just imagine that?)
You did not imagine it... The title was corrected by SuperTitleSpellingMan, who is always lurking here but only emerges from the shadows to help us in the hour of our most dire need. Often his heroic deeds go unnoticed, but it seems that his actions in this case have been recognized.
 
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  • #16
dextercioby
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Getting back on topic (actually still off-topic), the 1300 pages book by the German/Austrian professors (including Matthias Bartelmann with the spelling issue) mentioned above would be the German correspondent of the 4-5 American textbooks also stretching >1200 pages. It's only Springer to decide if they want extra money (I'm sure they do) by translating it to English, but it's pretty difficult to imagine it can penetrate the vast American market. Halliday&Resnick would still be recommended, I assume.

EDIT: The co-author Rebhan to this 1300p text is not the same Rebhan who wrote some good textbooks such as the one here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/3827426022/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
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  • #17
Demystifier
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Getting back on topic (actually still off-topic), the 1300 pages book by the German/Austrian professors (including Matthias Bartelmann but also prof. Rebhan - who published his own textbooks - very good, btw) mentioned above would be the German correspondent of the 4-5 American textbooks also stretching >1200 pages. It's only Springer to decide if they want extra money (I'm sure they do) by translating it to English, but it's pretty difficult to image it can penetrate the vast American market. Halliday&Resnick would still be recommended, I assume.
I don't think it's comparable to Halliday&Resnick (HD). HD is written at the introductuory level suitable also to experimental physicists and even non-physicists who need to know some physics. Bartelmann et al is written at a higher level, comparable to the first few books in the long Greiner et al series (published also by Springer). So I would describe Bartelmann et al as a compact version of the first 5 volumes of the Greiner et al series (which, by the way, has 14 volumes).
 
  • #18
vanhees71
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The book by Bartelmann et al is an undergrad. theory textbook, covering the standard theory course for the BSc in physics. Halliday, Resnick, Walker is the experimental pendant. Springer has a German translation of Tipler. The German classic for exp. physics is Gerthsen. I hope Bartelmann et al write a sequel for the MSc course :-).
 
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  • #19
houlahound
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From comments I think I will wait for a later edition when the typos are fixed up.

Curious to you published guys, how in 2016 with computers, pro editors etc do typos ever get into print by major publishers.

Free lecture notes I understand, but with the ridiculously high price of textbooks typos should be extinct.

Not that long ago texts were written on manual type writers and on average they did well.
 
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  • #20
ObjectivelyRational
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Hmmmmmm

Interesting view I don't entirely disagree with - I would have done it in a different order and certainly SR differently.

But, and this is the big BUT, putting it all together and seeing the unifying nature of symmetry and how it allies to pretty much everything real really did it for me.

In QM you derive the generators and introduce states later - rather different and enlightening to me.

I still give it my full recommendation. Interesting what others think.

Thanks
Bill

Sounds fascinating but I would like to know more.

Can you explain what you mean by "unifying nature of symmetry"? Specifically, what do you mean by "symmetry"? Are you referring to an aspect of reality or of our equations (or both)? When you speak of "unifying" do you mean that it "unifies" our knowledge, approach to physics, or mathematics? How?

"mechanics is group theory applied to particles" Do you mean the mathematics of mechanics can be generated or replicated by applying the mathematics of group theory to abstractions we should equate with particles?
 
  • #21
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But this is done in Ballentine's text, the algebra of fundamental observables is derived from the Galilei group of space-time transformations. How is this anyway improved (if at all) in this book? You call it "enlightening", but didn't you read Ballentine's book? I call THAT enlightening :)

Actually Ballentine did it better but didn't mention that was what he was doing. This guy explicitly did, as well as carefully analysing Noethers theorem which Ballentine did not. Ballentine also introduces the Born rule formalism prior to doing it - this book uses it to motivate it. Different intent and emphasis. Ballaintine is the much better book to learn QM from - this book motivates the importance of symmetry as a unifying concept in physics.

The professor thing doesn't really worry me - he is trying something different - maybe too different for more set in their ways professors.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #22
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Can you explain what you mean by "unifying nature of symmetry"? Specifically, what do you mean by "symmetry"? Are you referring to an aspect of reality or of our equations (or both)? When you speak of "unifying" do you mean that it "unifies" our knowledge, approach to physics, or mathematics? How?

Read the paper I linked to on relativity. An inertial frame is defined by symmetry proprieties and that is all you need to derive the Lorentz transformations.

"mechanics is group theory applied to particles" Do you mean the mathematics of mechanics can be generated or replicated by applying the mathematics of group theory to abstractions we should equate with particles?

Read the following two books:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0750628960/?tag=pfamazon01-20
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0750628960/?tag=pfamazon01-20

The first, unlike this book, doesn't eve mention group theory or Noethers theorem. You see mechanics developed directly from symmetry. For example from the fact the Lagrangian must be invariant between inertial frames we see mass must exist and be positive.

Then we have Noethers theorem itself which says (loosely) for every symmetry in the Lagrangian their must be a conserved quantity. Its why momentum exists and is conserved (systems have the same Lagrangian where you put them is the conserved quantity associated with this and is called momentum) and energy exists and is conserved (systems often have Lagrangian's that are time invariant which has the conserved quantity we call energy). Noether proved it must be the case. It shocked even Einstein and just about anyone else exposed to it since then. It explains why defining energy in GR is a BIG problem - but you should take that over to the GR forum.

This book is different, I would not have done it in this order but starts with group theory and Noethers theorem then develops the physics. Its a very different and unusual approach as you can see some do not like. I do - but that's just me. Time will tell if the method takes off or not. From comments by actual professors here I may be its only advocate - maybe it needs to be done by an experienced teacher and textbook writer.

Can you explain what you mean by "unifying nature of symmetry"? Specifically, what do you mean by "symmetry"? Are you referring to an aspect of reality or of our equations (or both)? When you speak of "unifying" do you mean that it "unifies" our knowledge, approach to physics, or mathematics? How?

"mechanics is group theory applied to particles" Do you mean the mathematics of mechanics can be generated or replicated by applying the mathematics of group theory to abstractions we should equate with particles?

The answer is Nothers threroem.

You usually learn mechanics, EM, QM etc etc then this beautiful theorem. This book does the reverse.

Once understood its shocking. Professors here often describe the stunned silence of their students when they teach it. Its that deep and profound. This book is an attempt to do the reverse - but as you can see many do not warm to that approach like I do. They all recognise the power, beauty and usefulness of Noether and are as shocked by it now just like when they learned it. But starting from it - well obviously that is not universally as well respected.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #23
DrClaude
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I have asked the library at my institution to buy it. Hope I didn't make a mistake :nb)
 
  • #24
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Gentlemen and women this will destroy many in the target audience that are learning the math for the book from the book they are reading.

http://physicsfromsymmetry.com/errata/

Now why the heck isn't an e-book made available for free to everyone who purchased the book.
 
  • #25
vanhees71
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From comments I think I will wait for a later edition when the typos are fixed up.

Curious to you published guys, how in 2016 with computers, pro editors etc do typos ever get into print by major publishers.

Free lecture notes I understand, but with the ridiculously high price of textbooks typos should be extinct.

Not that long ago texts were written on manual type writers and on average they did well.
Well, if you ever have written a longer scientific text, you'd know how easily typos sneak into a manuscript, and it is not easy to get them when you just have typed a text in, because you read over them knowing your text very well. Waiting a few months and then proofreading helps.

On the other hand you are right in being angry with the publishers. Nowadays the publishers have no serious editing anymore. That's indeed something you can blame them on since they really take a lot of money for their books.
 
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  • #26
haushofer
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See also the recent beautiful insight about how to obtain GR from Poincare symmetries :P
 
  • #27
strangerep
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I have asked the library at my institution to buy it. Hope I didn't make a mistake :nb)
At the risk of being a wet blanket, I think you should try to stop that purchase until you've had a chance to examine at least parts of the book for yourself. I'll send you a PM shortly.

I just had a quick skim and I will say that I was underwhelmed.

I apply a "test" to any physics book that waxes lyrical about the wonders of symmetries [:oldwink:] :- I look for how it develops the Kepler laws, especially the 3rd law. The latter arises from a symmetry which is not connected to a Noetherian conserved quantity. Thus, it reminds us that not everything follows from an algebra of conserved quantities, but rather from the full dynamical group that maps solutions of the equations of motion among themselves. Noetherian symmetries, although very important, are nevertheless not the be-all and end-all of everything.

Schwichtenberg does not mention Kepler at all, afaict. Nor does he mention "hydrogen" which is a marvelous example of the power of group theory in QM.

Further, when I look at his derivation of the half-integer spectrum for su(2), there's some leaps in there that I don't like. Look at sect 3.6.1 on pp 53-54. He introduces ladder operators ##J_\pm## and shows that they act on ##J_3## eigenvectors to raise/lower the eigenvalue. Then he concludes that, because he's working in a finite dimensional space, there must be a point where repeated application of ##J_\pm## yields 0. Although this is technically correct, (because his space happens to also be a Hilbert space, and eigenvectors of a Hermitian operator with distinct eigenvalues are orthogonal, and span the space according to the spectral thm), but he doesn't explain any of this. It works out because he's working with SU(2), hence unitarity is there automatically, and hence also Hermiticity of its generators (see sect 3.4.3).

Contrast this with the treatment in Ballentine sect 7.1. There's no comparison, imho.

It's also disappointing that he hasn't enabled the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon. That makes it hard for people to get a feel of the book for themselves before committing their money.
 
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  • #28
houlahound
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OT, does anyone have a link to an intro level explanation of Noether's theorem.
 
  • #32
dextercioby
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Strangerep, there's no mentioning of the Kepler problem and its symmetries (dynamical group SO(2,4) etc), because the focus of the book is on classical field theory, not on quantum mechanics. The quantum field symmetries (Ward-Takahashi, BRST, anomalies, gauge symmetry breaking) are not mentioned at all, because the book is meant for undergraduates (heck, the author was undergraduate at the time of writing the book!), hence it should be and it is full of the blah-blah of standard texts. You are right to complain about the treatment of the su(2) - angular momentum part, simply because the whole picture (compact group - Peter-Weyl theorem-unitary ray representations of SO(3)-Bargmann's theorems - Nelson's theorem) is not clear to the author himself.
 
  • #33
strangerep
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Strangerep, there's no mentioning of the Kepler problem and its symmetries (dynamical group SO(2,4) etc), because the focus of the book is on classical field theory, not on quantum mechanics.
Well, the Kepler problem is classical, last time I checked. :-p

The author definitely tried to address a certain amount of QM and QFT -- see chapters 5,8,9.
 
  • #34
Demystifier
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I apply a "test" to any physics book
My main criteria for reading a new book on old subject is - does it offer a new perspective? (Otherwise, what's the point of either writing or reading it in the first place?) And I think this book definitely satisfies this criterion.
 
  • #35
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Schwichtenberg's book is quite good. I especially liked the chapter on Lie groups, whose treatment of representation theory was exceptionally clear. Another book that is in much the same vein as Schwichtenberg's, but at a somewhat more advanced level, is Kurt Sundermeyer's 'Symmetries in Fundamental Physics' (disregard the one-star review--the reviewer apparently confused Schwichtenberg's book for Sundermeyer's): https://goo.gl/oFE3ky
 
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