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Intro Physics Textbooks on symmetries and physics

  1. Jul 3, 2017 #1
    I just started to develop an interest in symmetries after taking an introductory course in electromagnetism . The instructor explained to us how physical laws can be obtained by considering the symmetries of the physical system. It was really amazing how we can obtain such information just by considering the underlying symmetries
    if it's possible, could you recommend some textbooks that explain physics in terms of symmetries ?
    it would be really great if the textbooks start from the beginning as i wanna re-study what i have done based on symmetries and then i wanna cover the more advanced materials after that.
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  3. Jul 3, 2017 #2


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  4. Jul 3, 2017 #3
    You may want to consider looking into a textbook that intends to teach applications of group theory in physics. There are several books for that, e.g., Group Theory in Particle, Nuclear, and Hadron Physics by Syed Afsar Abbas, CRC Press offers a relatively gentle but short introduction and discusses some very advanced applications of group theory.

    If you are not prepared to read the whole book, you can look into the quantum mechanics textbooks by David Bohm and Leonard Schiff. Both of these books have chapters dealing with 'symmetries in quantum mechanics'. It offers a very rudimentary introduction to group theory and demonstrates how orbital and spin angular momentum arise in quantum mechanics. They also have a discussion on what is know as 'dynamical symmetry' of the hydrogen atom, where they derive the expression for the energy levels of the hydrogen atom using the concept of symmetry and without using the Schrodinger equation. It's really amazing.

    Lastly, Walter Greiner wrote a textbook called Quantum Mechanics - Symmetries. It is also a beautiful book and also very good for a beginner. Come to think of it, I should have mentioned it first!
  5. Jul 4, 2017 #4


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  6. Jul 4, 2017 #5

    George Jones

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    The errata notwithstanding, if I could choose just one book that I could take to the past when I was a grad student all those decades ago, it might be "Quantum Field Theory: A Tourist Guide for Mathematicians" by Gerald Folland. Life is too busy for me now to go through this book line-by-line, e.g., I am writing this post while on holidays with my wife and daughter 4200 km (as the crow flies) from my home, but while still in my home country.

    The errata for the first printing of Folland:

    The much smaller errata for the second printing:

    The size of the errata for these two printings is not too different than, for example, the errata for "Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model" by Matthew Schwartz, which is rapidly becoming a classic.

    I can give other examples of often-used books that have similar errata.

    I think that if you (@dextercioby) could get past this, you would really like Folland's book.
  7. Jul 5, 2017 #6
    Kurt Sundermeyer's "Symmetries in Fundamental Physics" is one of best books that I have encountered on the subject. It's a somewhat advanced text, however, so it helps to already possess a graduate level understanding of the major branches of physics.
  8. Jul 5, 2017 #7
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