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Which books to read? Symmetry, Branes, LQG, etc.

  1. Apr 9, 2006 #1
    Ok, the problem is that I don't have enough time or money, so I want to be somewhat careful in what books I buy. I am looking to purchase a few books on modern physics that discuss new ideas in physics, and I've found many books with good reviews that cover the topics that I'm interested in.

    I am especially interested in a discussion of symmetry that works from its basic defintion, and would include at least a few diagrams or graphs; and a discussion of how modern physics depends on ideas like symmetry and broken symmetries. Applications of this to ideas like string theory, M-theory, Branes, and Loop Quantum Gravity are also of great interest.

    The books listed below each cover multiple topics, and there is some overlap. If you had to choose just three books from the below list to buy (and the rest later be read freely at a library!) which three might you suggest? I am trying to minimize overlap (without totally eliminating it; some overlap is necessary and useful) and maximize breadth.

    Any comments (good or bad) on any books would be welcome. (I already own Brian Green's "The Elegant Universe".)

    * "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity" by Lee Smolin?

    * Hyperspace (Michio Kaku)

    * "Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons" Clifford Pickover

    * "Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" Lisa Randall

    * "Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature" Gordon L. Kane

    * "Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe" Leon M. Lederman

    * "The Great Beyond: Higher Dimensions, Parallel Universes and the Extraordinary Search for a Theory of Everything" Paul Halpern

    Thanks for your thoughts,

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2006 #2


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    I would avoid Kaku. Much wind little rain, as the Native Americans are reputed to say. Smolin is the class of the list, and Kane's book on supersymmetry appealed to me though I am not a fan of supersymmetry, which I guess is a recommendation. I bought Randall's book and loved it, but it's kind of a special topic for your purposes. I don't get the sense that any of these books are directly about symmetry as you wish.
  4. Apr 9, 2006 #3


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    we should also mention

    since the author is one of us, sometimes contributing to threads here at this forum!

    As the subtitle indicates, Peter Woit's book is about the continuing challenge to unify the laws of physics and is written for a wide audience (without excessive reliance on mathematical notation)
    so it might be of interest to the original poster.

    Amazon says it is scheduled for release this month----25 April


    UK amazon lists it for Pounds 11.87 hardcover
    (for cheaper, wait for paperback edition, or find it used on the web)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2006
  5. Apr 9, 2006 #4
    I have the same problem:)I am a poor student.
    I always download ebooks in the internet.but not new books.
    I prefer books which talk about fundamental views in various physics theories .
  6. Apr 10, 2006 #5
    Perhaps you would both better say what your level in physics is. Robert100, a nice book about symmetry is ``Lie algebras in particle physics´´ of former nobel prize winner Howard Georgi (I actually think this one is also for free on his web page). Very accessible and you learn the math and some physics of the standard model bottoms up (it is also a cheap soft cover). If you are not a post graduate student (or similar level) in physics, and you actually want to truely learn and understand what you are reading, then keep yourself aside from the ``unification books´´ for now. If you want to start reading about QG, a good place to start is a paper about perturbative QG (assuming that you know GR and QM up to some level) written by 't Hooft for didactical purposes some while ago.
  7. Apr 10, 2006 #6

    thank u very much for your advice.
    I am reading The quantum theory of fields (S.Weinberg) and STRING THEORY (Polchinski),D-branes(C.V.Johnson),and some books and papers from hep-th. I majord in particle physics.
  8. Apr 11, 2006 #7


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  9. Apr 11, 2006 #8
    Ah, good. Then I would stick to Weinberg in the first place, there are interesting deep problems in QFT enough without needing to go for string theory or anything else right away. :smile:


  10. Apr 12, 2006 #9
  11. Apr 12, 2006 #10
    One other note -- Howard Georgi has never won a Nobel Prize in Physics

    [URL]http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/index.htm **

    Right, sorry for that, the book grew out of a course thought by John Van Vleck and Sheldon Glashow - two nobel prize winners; the latter with whom georgi collaborated. :smile: Anyway, the point was that the book has been concieved by famous people.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  12. Apr 12, 2006 #11
    ALOT of good physicst never win a noble prize.Why would not winning a Noblel make them a bad physicst.
  13. Apr 12, 2006 #12
    I don't believe I ever said not winning a Nobel Prize makes one a bad physicist. My motivation was purely to correct the record of this thread, so that the information conveyed can be as accurate as possible.
  14. Apr 13, 2006 #13
    :confused: We never made such claim !! Usually, nobel prize winners can be assumed to be good physicists :wink: , that is something entirely different. Anyway, I found this book very clear, amusing and relatively profound (for a first course) - that is all....
  15. Apr 18, 2006 #14
    Can anyone explain why Kaku's books aren't very good to read? I've read a few of his books and found them to be very informative for someone like me that doesn't take physics classes. Maybe not so informative entirely on the subject of string theory ,etc though. He focuses more on a variety of subjects rather than just one.

    I came across a couple books in Barnes and Noble the other day that were about String Theory, but it was just the mathematics of the entire theory. It was pretty intimidating. But it looked interesting. I just wish I could understand the mathematics behind all of it.
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