Weinberg's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics

  1. In footnote 1 of his recent paper http://arxiv.org/pdf/1109.6462
    Steven Weinberg promises
    "1. This point involves too many issues to be treated adequately here. The
    author’s views on the present state of quantum mechanics are spelled
    out in detail in Section 3.7 of Lectures on Quantum Mechanics, to be

    Does anyone know when this will be published (or the publisher)- any pre-anouncements or anything?
  2. jcsd
  3. vanhees71

    vanhees71 4,498
    Science Advisor
    2014 Award

    I've just gotten this marvelous textbook. It's great as all texbooks by Weinberg before!
  4. dextercioby

    dextercioby 12,327
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It must be well written, since it has the name of a Nobel prize winner on the cover but, by merely looking at the TOC, it won't be the standard reference for the subject, as his QFT books are...How would one rank it against Ballentine's top notch writing?
  5. vanhees71

    vanhees71 4,498
    Science Advisor
    2014 Award

    I'd not conclude that a textbook must be good, because it's written by a Nobel laureat, but in the case of Weinberg it's true. All his textbooks are just very well written with a clear exposition of the subject in a deductive way, which I myself always prefer compared to inductive expositions of a subject. Of course, also the history of science is important, and that's also covered by Weinberg in well written introductory chapters on the historical development of the theory.

    Concerning the subjects covered the book is pretty standard for an advanced graduate course in non-relativistic quantum theory. All the important topics are covered, including a very clear foundation of the Hilbert-space formalism, which is used from the very beginning (after one chapter, where the hydrogen atom and the harmonic oscillator are treated in the wave-mechanical way).

    In chapter 3 he gives a complete foundation of the quantum theoretical formalism in terms of the abstract Hilbert-space formulation, using symmetry arguments to establish the operator algebra of observables for non-relativistic quantum theory (i.e., using Galileo invariance as a starting point).

    For me the most interesting part of chapter 3 is Sect. 3.7 on the interpretation of quantum theory, where after a very good summary about the various interpretations he finally comes to the conclusion that a complete satisfactory interpretation of the quantum theoretical formalism has not yet been achieved.

    The rest of the book is simply a very good presentation of the standard material that any quantum mechanics course should cover, including the quantum mechanical description of angular momentum, time-independent and time-dependent perturbation theory, scattering theory (marvelous via the time-dependent wave-packet approach, which he has already used in his quantum theory of fields vol. 1 and which is, in my opinion, the only satisfactory derivation for the S-matrix anyway!).

    The book closes with a concise exhibition of "non-relativistic QED", i.e., the quantized electromagnetic field coupled to "Schrödinger particles" and the final (unfortunately rather short) chapter about entanglement, discussing the interesting topics of EPR, the Bell inequalities, and quantum computing.

    As usual with Weinberg's books, it's not written for beginners in the field but for the advanced graduate. These needs are better suited by Ballentines book, although also this one is rather tough for the beginner. Compared to Weinberg's book, in my opinion its main advantage is that also the mathematics of the rigged Hilbert space is developed to a certain extent.

    For me, the best introductory text still is J.J. Sakurai, Modern Quantum Mechanics but Weinberg's is a must-reading for the more advanced scholar!
  6. dextercioby

    dextercioby 12,327
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    So in your opinion, the level of mathematical rigurosity is less compared to Ballentine (not to mention Gallindo and Pascual's 2 volume text), which automatically means some key results such as the Stone-von Neumann's uniqueness theorem are left out.

    P.S. Perhaps not so unrelated, a nice review article last month on arxiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/1211.5627
  7. Thanks for your replies :-). I will definitely check it out, maybe in the spring or during christmas break.
    (I will have a look at valentines book too)
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?