Quantum gravity and quantum cosmology books

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  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

At the risk of annoying some people but hopefully also interesting others I would like to mention my new book on the periodic table, which has just been named as one of 7 "outstdanding academic books of the year 2007" in the category for chemistry

But the book is as much about physics as it is about chemistry. In it I examine the claim that is frequently made that the periodic system reduces completely to quantum mechanics and I conclude that although the claim goes a long way the reduction is far from complete. And nor do I merely refer to the inability to solve the many-body Schrodinger equation analytically, given that approximations are so good these days that this does not really matter too much.

In addition I have published an article on the periodic system in the current issue of American Scientist (Jan-Feb, 2008) although not specifically on the question of reduction.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has seen the book or who might have some comments on this topic. The book is searchable on the Amazon.com website which is,


eric scerri



"An absolutely gorgeous book. I put it on my bedside table and then stayed up half the night reading it - it is immensely readable."
---Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook his wife for a Hat, Awakenings etc.

“Written to a high standard of scholarship, "The Periodic Table" is the only book of its kind currently on the market, giving both an historical and philosophical perspective to the development of this key to the elements. The philosophical discussion Scerri weaves through its pages is rarely found in chemistry books, giving it a special quality that will appeal to the scientific community at large. In years to come it will be seen as essential reading for all who aspire to lecture and write on the subject.” ----- John Emsley, author of "The Elements" and "Nature's Building Blocks"

“As the author of "The Periodic System of Chemical Elements: A History of the First Hundred Years" (1969), I consider Scerri's "The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance" a worthy successor. I declare his new book a must, not only for all historians of chemistry and the other natural sciences, but also for the scientists and pupils thereof.--- Jan W. van Spronsen, author of "The Periodic System of Chemical Elements: A History of the First Hundred Years"

“Few concepts are more important in chemistry than the periodic table, and Eric Scerri's book offers a wonderfully thorough, lucid, and provocative introduction for both chemists and the scientifically literate to this major cultural contribution. Anyone interested in the foundations of chemistry will take delight, inspiration, and information from this highly approachable book.” ----- Peter Atkins, author of "The Periodic Kingdom", "Molecules" etc.

Answers and Replies

  • #2

I qualified with a physics masters in 2003 but have not really dabbled with physics since then.

I want to get some books on Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity, and Randomness and Chaos which were the areas that I was particularly interested in while at university so that I can get back into these subjects.

I am looking for books which start from the basics but quickly get into the complexities and really go into some detail (but at the same time are well written). I am fairly fluent in maths and so am not looking for any books which take a simplistic approach or wash over difficult areas to the topics. I guess what i'm looking for are the seminal texts in each of the fields. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Many thanks

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  • #3
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Bojowald has one for wide audience coming out in November 2010. It explains the LQC (loop quantum cosmology) version about how the big bang occurred. A German edition of the book came out over a year ago, and sold well. This is the English edition.


Bojowald also has a QG-oriented textbook scheduled to appear December 2010 in the UK and January 2011 in the Usa.
Christine spotted this and started a discussion about it:

The book is called "Canonical Gravity and Applications". Canonical means the Hamiltonian treatment of GR. The Hamiltonian treatement of classical GR is the starting point for developing LQG, and its application to cosmology LQC. It will be good to have an introductory textbook (probably suitable for advance undergrad coursework) on this approach.

The prominent relativist/cosmologist George Ellis and friends have put together a collection of QG essays called "Foundations of Space and Time" which is scheduled to appear in March or April 2011. Each of the chapters is by a different QG expert---based on talks give at a 2009 conference in Cape Town which Ellis hosted.
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  • #4
I have a fairly specific question regarding two quantum mechanics textbooks.

I am taking a third year quantum mechanics course at the University of Toronto (PHY356) and I am trying to decide which textbook to purchase. Last year I took an introductory quantum mechanics course in which we covered material up to solutions of the three dimensional TISE, orbital angular momentum, spin angular momentum etc.

For this course I took last year, we used the book https://www.amazon.com/dp/0582356911/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20. The textbook was pretty terrible and useless for the course (I don't mean the text was terrible, I mean for the purposes of doing well in the course it was terrible, like doing problems etc.) I still have this text and probably will not get rid of it, so I don't want to waste money on a textbook which will serve the same purpose.

Anyways for the course I am taking now, the professor is using https://www.amazon.com/dp/1891389130/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20 He said that he will not be following the order of the book very much, but the topics he is covering seem to line up pretty well with the names of sections in the book. This is essentially the "required" text.

He also recommends the book https://www.amazon.com/dp/0306447908/?tag=pfamazon01-20&tag=pfamazon01-20

I only want to get one of these books but I am unsure which one to get. In terms of an investment, the book by Shankar looks much more valuable, and seems to be very popular. I also like this book as it uses the dirac notation (which I am new to and B&D does not use) extensively and it also seems to be quite rigorous with its math (something I appreciate a lot). I have also heard that the practice problems are pretty decent. In this sense, I feel that it may also be a good basic QM book to have down the road.

On the other hand, the material I will need to know for this course will probably be most similar to the material covered in the Townsend book. Unfortunately, I do not know as much about this text and am afraid of buying it in case it ends up just sitting on my shelf like the B&J text.

TLDR: Which textbook between "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" by Shankar and "A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics" by Townsend will be a better textbook to invest in for the long term? (or which one do you prefer and why?)
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  • #5
by Rodolfo Gambini and Jorge Pullin

I just recently became really interested in quantum gravity. I'm studying astronomy, but I am keeping my interest in quantum gravity as a bit of a hobby. It would have been nice to be able to go to the Zakopane summer school, but I got into this too late...

But I was able to get a pre-print version of this book. It is based off a class Professor Pullin taught at LSU in 2010, I think. The preface claims that the authors wanted to keep the book short in order to get it out sooner or something like that. And it is quite short.

Has anyone here gotten a chance to look through it? I thought it was well written for what it was aiming for, but it can't really bridge the gap to the big texts (Rovelli, Thiemann).
  • #6
Gold Member
Has anybody read this book? I am interested in learning a little bit more about QM, and at first glance this book seemed ideal. It is not a 1000 page textbook which i don't have time to work through, and it does supposedly make use of mathematics, rather than some other non-mathematical books that are on the market. Being a relatively new book, i haven't found many reviews, and any negative reviews seem to attack the use of "complex" mathematics; i don't mind the use of math (in fact, i prefer it).

How "complex" is the math that this book uses? Is it an interesting and concise (and accurate of course) overview of QM?

Any opinion is much appreciated!
  • #7
hello friends, i am an electronics engineering student. i will have to study quantum physics in my coming semester and which will be followed by a solid state physics course and then may be with some semiconductor course too.

so what i want to know is some good book on quantum physics which will make me capable to go through my future courses(i mentioned) with out any difficulty.

i know about "concepts of modern physics" by Arthur beiser by McGraw Hill and one other book called "introduction to quantum mechanics" by David j. griffiths that they are good for quantum physics but i just wanna ask about which would be better from my perspective. what i think after reading the table of contents of the two books is that one by a. beiser is more general and focuses also on topics other than quantum.....so does it do that after handling quantum thoroughly(what i would require in my future courses) or just providing only that part which is required by later chapters.

and what about the one by David J. griffiths? please also recommend some other book that you think is better than both of these for electronics engineering's subject of studies. thanks in advance,
  • #8
Hi members,

I have found Zetilli's Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications so interesting to read. is there any where to find the solutions to the exercises in the book on free download?

i also enjoy demystified QM because (i) its not too wordy (ii) it has rigorous math, though it has some very little math errors which to me has not overpowered its beauty.
Is there any where to find its second edition with topics like scattering, identical particles, addition of angular momentum, higher Z atoms, and the WKB approximation as they have put it in the preface of the first edition?

  • #9


[*] Introduction: Why Quantum Physics?
[*] Into the Microworld: Duality and the Double Slit
[*] First Postulates: The State Function and Its Interpretation
[*] An Illustrative Interlude: Wave Packets in One Dimension
[*] Observables in Quantum Physics: A Pragmatist's Approach
[*] A Quantum Equation of Motion: The Schrödinger Equation at Last
[*] Simplifying Matters: The Time-independent Schrödinger Equation
[*] States of a Particle in One Dimension I: Mainly Piecewise-Constant Potentials
[*] States of a Particle in One Dimension II: Mainly Continuous Potentials
[*] Operators in Quantum Mechanics I: The Importance of Being Hermitian
[*] Operators in Quantum Mechanics II: To Commute or Not to Commute
[*] Eigenfunction Expansions: How to Solve Any Problem in Quantum Mechanics
[*] Altered States: The Great Measurement Mystery
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  • #10


[*] Matter Waves
[*] Photons
[*] The Uncertainty Principle
[*] Complementarity
[*] The EPR Paradox and Bell's Theorem
[*] Testing Bell's Inequalities: Entangled States
[*] Schrödinger's Cat
[*] Measurement
[*] Quantum Information and Computation
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  • #11

Table of Contents

 1. Wave-Particle Duality and Schroedinger Equation. 

 2. Introduction to Bound States. 

 3. Rotationally Invariant Potentials: Hydrogen Atom and Beyond. 

 4. Wave Packets and Uncertainty Relations. 

 5. Scattering by Simple Barriers. 

 6. WKB Approximations. 

 7. Expectation Values and Operators. 

 8. Electrons in a Magnetic Field. 

 9. Beyond Hermitian Operators. 

10. Harmonic Oscillator: Full Operator Treatment. 

11. Composite Systems. 

12. Variational Principle. 

13. Expansion Principle and Matrix Formulation. 

14. Perturbation Theory, I: "Degenerate" Perturbation Theory. 

15. Perturbation Theory, II: "Non-Degenerate" Perturbation Theory. 

16. Symmetry. 

17. Electrons in Periodic Crystal Potentials. 

18. Rotational Invariance and Angular Momentum. 

19. Time-Dependent Perturbation Theory. 

20. Elements of Field Quantization. 

21. Electron Spin. 

22. Indistinguishable Particles: Fermions and Bosons. 

Appendices: Dirac …d-Function. Poisson-Distributed Events. Spherical Harmonics. Hydrogen Radial Eigenfunctions. Fourier Integral. Construction of Two Group Character Tables. Selected General References. Fundamental Constants.
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  • #12

I found a book called Excitons and Cooper Pairs: Two Composite Bosons in Many-Body Physics. I think it looks like an interesting approach to compare these two bosons of current interest. But since I do not find any review on the internet, I would like to ask here if anyone has read it and can confirm whether this book is valuable to read, or even to buy.

Best regards.
  • #13
Homework Helper
I have read Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Michael Nielsen and Isaac Chuang and worked through the exercises. I found it challenging and informative, and overall an excellent text book. It addresses many aspects of the subject area, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is competent in linear algebra.

Like any text of wide scope, it does not cover all of the details of every topic, but it does include an extensive bibliography. One area in which I found myself wanting more was the process of programming a quantum computer. While Nielsen and Chuang introduce quantum circuits and discuss gates, I found myself unclear on how to compose quantum gates to carry out a computation. For that I recommend as a start the foundational paper Elementary gates for quantum computation (PhysRevA.52.3457) by a host of luminaries in the quantum computation field. It describes how to build controlled gates and Toffoli gates from basic one-cubit gates and CNOT gates.
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  • #14
I have spent more than one week in chapter 7 Physical Realization. I am not sure whether there are mistakes in this chapter or not. There are confusing expressions from section of optical photon quantum computer to section optical cavity quantum eletrodynamics.

For example:
in page 288, the state of a coherent state when ##\alpha = \sqrt {0.1}##;
in page 290, the action of ##P## on a single photon state;
in page 291, equations 7.22 and 7.25;
in page 292, equation 7.35;
in page 300; the equation 7.59;
in page 302, equations 7.68 and 7.71;
in page 303, equations 7.76 and 7.78.

I can not derive those equations or derive correct answers from them. Besides the fact that the author would like to omit ##\hbar##, there seem to be some mistakes of misuse of positive and negative signs, and some missing variables, such as ##\omega## and ##t##. Those suspicious mistakes make it difficult for me to understand the content of the chapter.

I have checked the lastest errata list published in 2004 and I am using the 10th anniversary edition.

Anyone having read this chapter could tell me does this chapter have those mistakes or I am wrong?
  • #15



Wonder what they have changed:

The entire book has been revised to take into account new developments in quantum mechanics curricula.

The textbook retains its typical style also in the new edition: it explains the fundamental concepts in chapters which are elaborated in accompanying complements that provide more detailed discussions, examples and applications.
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  • #16
I want to ask for opinions about the suggested path to be able to study the book "Quantum Fields and Strings" successfully, from a mathematical physics point of view. Maybe with a first entry with the books of Costello, Hall and Folland.

My interest is as an amateur (financial professional) with some free time to study these subjects, having acquired before a level up to MSc in High Energy Physics.

A goal would be to review all the necessary mathematical physics, with books with a mathematical physics slant and, ideally, as recently written as possible.

- From the Analysis point of view, I think the route Zorich (2 volumes) -> Loss / Lieb -> Reed / Simon makes sense. They are all rigorous, and with a slant towards mathematical physics. Reed and Simon is not recent, though (what about the new 5 books of Simon, are they a potentially substitute of Reed / Simon, or they are less on the physics side?).

- From the algebra / groups / geometry point of view, I like the three books of Naber, and the one of Hamilton (on Standard Model). I do not know any book on abstract algebra devoted to physicists, though.

- The beginning of "Quantum Fields and Strings" on supersymmetry is quite hard, and I do not know if there is any other book that prepares for those chapters. Maybe Manin's "Gauge Field Theory" and, before, "Linear Algebra and Geometry"?

Any other ideas?
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