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Quantum field theory or particle physics what first?

  1. Nov 5, 2007 #1
    Quantum field theory or particle physics what first???

    Hi at present im confused whether i should try obtining a firm conceptual understanding of QFT before jumping to particle physics or whether aa very brief overview of QFT is enough ???
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2007 #2
    That naturally depends on what you want to do in particle physics and at what level. I am inclined to say a brief overview (what is a particle, what is an interaction term, approximately how do these interaction terms lead to the pretty Feynman diagrams) is enough to get started. It's not that you couldn't go back and read up the qft stuff you skipped when needed.
  4. Nov 5, 2007 #3


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    any path, but set as goal to be able to do some standard calculations by heart: g-2, Lamb shift, top quark decay, etc.
  5. Nov 5, 2007 #4


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    QFT is the "language" in which particle physics speaks. If you want to become a full-blown particle physicist, you really have to learn that language sooner or later. However, there's plenty of particle-physics intro stuff that doesn't require the language. If you're interested in particles, may i suggest starting there, and picking up the language as you go along. After all, if you want to take a trip to a foreign country, you don't necessarily require yourself to become fluent in the language before you get off the plane - sometimes, a tourist guide is enough; but if you want to make your home there, that's different! :wink:
  6. Nov 5, 2007 #5
    I agree with blechman start with particles. I think physics in general, but especially QFT is easiest pedagogically if you approach it from a historical viewpoint. You need to know where these particles came from in the first place and then worry about describing them. I mean, why would you decide to use SU(3), if you didn't know about Gell Mann's eightfold way and asymptotic freedom. Why would you look at effective theories between pions and nucleons, if you didn't realize that the pion was believed to be the carrier of the strong force. Why study symmetry breaking, if you didn't know about Heisenberg's concept of isospin or the concept that symmetry breaking allows for particle decay.
    Yes, start with particles. In that regard, may I recommend David Griffith's particle physics book it is so easily accessible it's scary. It's kind of hard to find and little expensive, but it is worth it. Besides, I know places where you can download it for free if your interested ;-). After reading that, then move on to a Weinberg or Itzykson and Zuber
  7. Nov 6, 2007 #6


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    David Griffths particle physics book will be released as new edition march 2008. Does anyone here know if its gonna contain much new stuff?

    Edit: Yes, new chapters on Neutrinos oscillations and beyond the standard model.

    The book you can buy today is from 1987 :O
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  8. Nov 6, 2007 #7
    Well at present im reading Griffitths and quanrks and leptons by halzen and martin
    im finding the latter better and much less superficial.
  9. Nov 6, 2007 #8


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    quantumfireball: Are you also taking courses about particle pysics and QFT @ your university? To really "learn" this, reading is not enough.
  10. Nov 6, 2007 #9
    Im a final year engineering under graduate in electronics
    whatever physics i learn i do it by self study
    but thanks to forums like these,life is better
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