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Srednicki's book on sale and comments about books

  1. Mar 15, 2008 #1


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    Srednicki's excellent QFT book is less than half price on Amazon.com at only 32$ and a few cents. I happened on this by luck and thought I would let everyone know.

    Dave McMahon's book on QFT in the "Demystified" series is now available but looking at a few sample pages and the content index, I was disappointed. It seems to go from very basic things (like a review of basic QM and special relativity) to the Feynman rules of a few theories with nothing in between. I did not look at everything but it does not seem like LSZ or Wick's theorem are even explained! There seems to be a bit about path integrals and even SUSY and Higgs but it is very very cursory. And the whole book is fairly short. I am not sure what the intended audience is. At the level it seems to be inteneded to, I think that Griffit's Introduction to Elementary Particle physics does a much much better job of covering the same things much more deeply.

    While I am babbling about books, I am in love with Aitchison's new book on supersymmetry (most of the content of the book can be found in a very long set of lecture notes that appeared in the archives but the book has a bit more stuff.). This is *the* book I have always wanted to read about SUSY! Finally someone who takes the time to explain the notation and where the equations come from! I finally understood the dotted vs undotetd notation and I understood how to obtain the SUSY transformations of the Wess Zumino model. I had tried to work with the books by Freund, Wess, Bailin and Love, Weinberg etc etc before and I had never gone very far because too much stuff was simply thrown at the reader without much motivation. I could not see the logic behind the equations so I could not really build upon the starting points. Aitchison explains things and this is so refreshing. Even if I have his set of lectures for free from the archives I decided to buy the book to reward the author for doing such a great job (his book with Hey on quantum field theory was laready one of my favorite introductory QFT books).

    I have also order Wesson's book on five-dimensional physics (this is no longer quantum stuff) and I am looking forward to reading that. The excerpts looked quite interesting.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2008 #2
    Mother Goose's Fairy Tales for Children covers the same things more deeply. I have read the first 150 pages and it is clear that QFT is a mystery to the author. He not only gets a lot of it wrong, but even when he gets it right, he doesn't demystify anything. His explanations are even sketchier than the real ones. There are not that many typos, but they tend to come at the worst times ruining what little is there in the way of explanation. Demolish the presses, salt the ground. Are the other books in the series as bad? He wrote their book on QM. Is that one bad too? According to the 'About the Author" section of the book, Mr. McMahon is a researcher and has 'advanced degrees' in Physics and Math. My suggestion to the publisher is to recall the book so that it doesn't ruin the reputation of the series and then hire an expert on the subject, hopefully one with experience in teaching it, to write a better book.
  4. Apr 18, 2008 #3


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    Hi Jimmy. Your post confirms my opinion about McMahon's book. I have previewed a few pages on Amazon and it sounds at a very low level and filled with mistakes (typos but conceptual mistakles as well). On pgae 152 he says that the Dirac delta function
    delta(p1-p2) is equal to ONE when p1=p2!!!!!!!!!!

    There is not even the mention of the Wick theorem or the LSZ theorem so clearly, it is not a book to teach QFT. Given the level it's at, it seems to be intended at undergraduate students who have just a basic background in QM and SR, it's not designed to teach QFT.
    However, even for students at that level the book does not do a good job given all the typos and the major conceptual mistakes. The book by Griffiths is infinitely better.
  5. Apr 19, 2008 #4
    Here are two other corkers.

    In the explanation of SR, the factor of c is in every other formula, mysteriously popping in and out of existence with no mention of what units he is working with. Much later in the book he finally talks about the issue. He uses (+---) signature, with [itex](x^0, x^1, x^2, x^3)[/itex] defined to be (ct, x, y, z), but equates q(x) to [itex]q(\vec{x},t)[/itex] with the c absent without leave and the coordinates in some inexplicably random order.

    His definition of a group mentions closure but doesn't make it an axiom. He treats the definition of the order of a group as one of the group axioms. His proof that the set of rotations is a group uses U(1) to prove closure (even though closure is not an axiom for him) but uses U(2) to show that the rotation group is not commutative. His proof that the set of rotations is associative is to simply state that of course it is. Previous examples of groups never even mention the associative law.

    In an failed attempt to demystify, he interchangably uses the terms family and generation (of particles) to mean the same thing. He compares the range of the weak force (~[itex]10^{-3}[/itex] fm) to that of the strong force (~[itex]10^{-15}[/itex] m) with no definition of fm. He gives a description of the standard model leaving out any detail he considers inconsequential for one type of particle or force, while mentioning it for another.

    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
  6. Feb 25, 2009 #5


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    I bought this book just to see how ridiculous it is and see if I can find all the errors :biggrin: Cheap pleasure
  7. Nov 22, 2010 #6
    hello, I registered just to say how great the book is. I am student, and that just fits perfectly with the time I have to study. The guy who proudly says he can understand the QFT in 6 months as well as the author of the book present it is a big liar, but of course the author is not a theoretical physicist... and thus he is necessarily wrong. Skepticism just looks like sectarianism in that case, funny isn't it?
  8. Nov 22, 2010 #7
    Are you talking about Srednicki's book? The thread morphed early into complaints about McMahon's book.

    For an intro to QFT, I'd suggest the Aitchison & Hey, Gauge Theories in Particle Physics (though I only have volume 1, which only covers up to QED). The level is advanced undergraduate, and they only use canonical quantization. But all the basics are there, explained with a minimum of formalism.

    Zee really is very good at being a "nutshell" book as advertised, though I'm not really sure it serves well as a first exposure to QFT.

    The other books I've found most readable are Ryder, Brown, Srednicki, and Maggiore.
  9. Nov 23, 2010 #8
    Hello, indeed I talked about McMahon's one. My course is more a 3 months course than a 6 until now, and we have a lot of other stuff to study. So for main ideas it is a good job. Even in good books a lot of Ideas of QFT are very fuzzy. I just reach this topic because we found some mistakes in calculations, and we were searching for a feedback. Sorry for the English, it's not my native langage, and thus it can explain why I love so much this book instead of peskin (which is a good one, but far too big with the little while gave to us).

    Have a nice day.
  10. Feb 11, 2011 #9
    Well that is always been my favourite topic U know ;)
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  11. Feb 14, 2011 #10
    honnestly, now I use much more the peskin...
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