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Where to start?

  1. May 24, 2005 #1
    Hey I'm a lil nubnub (newb) and was wondering of what books would be great to read on this subject? Don't worry my reading comprehension is above a grade 4 leviL so you don't have to hold back on me.


    oK bYE
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2005 #2


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    How about math? Do you have a C or better in some flavor of Calculus? Do you know what [tex]sin^2\theta + cos^2\theta[/tex] equals? What?
  4. May 24, 2005 #3
    Yeah, highschool style, but I'd have to relearn that.

    To be honest I'm not that interested in learning the equations and such, is that really necessary? I rather learn the theoretical side of things. But yeah what are some good books on calc? I guess I could take something in uni next year but I have other things I need to do, ya know?

    My mom says I'm really smart even though my IQ test failed :(. She said it's just a piece of paper and not to worry about it. Ok thanks ^_^.
  5. May 25, 2005 #4


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    If all you want is a general idea, there are some popular books that discuss QM to some degree like Physics and Philosophy (Heisenberg), The Quark and the Jaguar (Gell-man), Dreams of a Final Theory (Weinberg), A Brief History of Time (Hawking), The Elegant Universe (Greene) etc. There's also the internet....

    I personally recommend The Second Creation by Robert Crease, since it has an anecdotal flavor, a vignette behind every equation, but that's just me.

    I don't think it's possible to fully grasp the "theoretical side" of QM (or any part of physics for that matter) unless you're willing to devote a lot of time on the math. Feynman has a nice discussion on this issue in The Character of Physical Law. For QM in particular, PAM Dirac mentioned that understanding QM does not involve having a mental picture of the processes going on, but rather seeing the math involved in such a way that their self-consistency becomes obvious.
  6. May 25, 2005 #5


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    If I may advise you something, which should now be readable on your level, although it DOES talk about the math (and more: why the math is essential, without assuming you know it already): read "The Road to Reality" by Penrose. He spends first a great deal in explaining WHY he thinks that you should master some mathematics if you want to understand (not even to use) physics, then he explains you the math (starting with what is a fraction, such as 2/5), by explaining you what are the ideas that the mathematics tries to put in formulas, and then he explains you how these mathematical ideas are related to the physical world, by starting with highschool geometry. So you should be able to jump on the wagon given the starting level. A big part of his book is exactly about quantum theory.

  7. May 25, 2005 #6
    As well as a sound mathematical background, how is your classical Physics? Do you know conservation laws, what angular momentum is (especially in a vector framework - there's the maths again!), etc?
  8. May 25, 2005 #7


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    What we're all getting at is is intellectual maturity with abstract arguments. At the high school level this comes with the tougher math courses and science courses like physics. But many don't get it till undergraduate level, and some (sigh) never. If you haven't made the breakthrough into abstract thinking then most of the books mentioned will frustrate you, and certainly you won't be able to get off the ground with Road to Reality, which is a wonderful book, but a real challenge to even the highly knowledgable.

    By the way, to add to the non-mathematical intro books, Nick Herbert's Quantum Reality which is still in the stores, and Heinz Pagel's Quantum Code, which I don't think is, but your library may have it.
  9. May 25, 2005 #8
    Thanks a lot guys you were all very helpful. :)

    I wasn't sure how vital the mathematical knowledge was to understanding the theoretical side of the coin. Thanks for clarifying. Time to add to the book list. :smile:
  10. May 25, 2005 #9


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  11. Jun 20, 2005 #10
    Thank you for the book info also. I just registered with the intent of asking 'what is a good starting place book'. :) Now I know since I have read the thread.
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