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Zwiebach's New SST book

  1. Jul 12, 2004 #1

    selfAdjoint

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    I just got my brand new copy of Barton Zwiebach's A First Course in String Theory and it's sure different from Polchinski or GSW! Here's the info.

    It's aimed at undergraduates; it was developed from a course given to MIT sophomores. Now you can assume that MIT sophs are better prepared than sophs at most other instituions, but still.. All he requires is "exposed to special relativity, basic quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, introductory statistical physics. Some familiarity with Lagrangian mechanics is useful but not indispensable." I think that many members of this forum could swing that.

    His aim is to bring the students to the cutting edge as quickly and honestly as possible; this constrains him. He introduces and uses light-cone coordinates and quantization, and postpones covariant quantization till much later. He starts off with relativity in the L-C framework, pulls in multiple dimensions, and then goes into "manifestly relativistic electrodynamics". All this before the first string chapter.

    He does bosonic strings, often motivating with a prior chapter on the corresponding point particle. His math is appropriate to his audience, he doesn't use anything deeper than basic multivariable calculus without introducing, motivating, and explaining it first. But be aware, he does go the true route and if you're not prepared to do the excercises you'll miss the value of the book.

    Part 2 is developments. He does D-branes, string charge, string thermodynamics and black holes, T-duality, EM fields on D-branes, nonlinear electrodynamics, finally the covariant quantization, strings and Riemann surfaces, and loop amplitudes in string theory.

    This is going to be not only a popular textbook, but a lifeline for autodidacts.

    If you've got any questions about the book I'll try to answer them on this thread. Remember, though, I've just received the book, and haven't read it in depth.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2004 #2
    Oh, I have envy. I possess the two Polchinski's volumes, but this new for sure must incorporate the last developments
     
  4. Jul 13, 2004 #3

    jeff

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    I just got the book too and I agree with every word of this. But based on my teaching (and learning) experience, I feel that the material presented in it will still prove too difficult for all but the best undergraduates. I think that just because string theory has become mainstream physics doesn't mean teaching it at the undergraduate level makes sense. I think that most undergrads will find that they have to keep too many balls in the air to understand what's actually going on. That's just my opinion.
     
  5. Jul 13, 2004 #4

    Janitor

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    If string theory ever gets experimental support, will students no longer be required to learn the non-stringy form of quantum mechanics? Or will learning that old-fashioned form of particle physics always be considered a prerequisite to learning string stuff, in the same way that students are still expected to learn Newtonian mechanics before moving on to quantum mechanics?
     
  6. Jul 14, 2004 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    In Zwiebach's book, chapter two, the first "real"chapter, starts with relativity, introduces light cone coordinates (an advanced topic) then extra dimensions and orbifolds (another advanced topic, but done with very simple examples), then quantum mechanics and the one dimensional particle in a well. All this is aimed at developing math modeling and calculation skills rather than "teaching a subject". So string theory when it comes will all be underpinned by skills learned on relativity and quantum mechanics.
     
  7. Jul 14, 2004 #6

    Janitor

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    You are probably dead right on that.
     
  8. Jul 20, 2004 #7
    I have the book!
    Although there are parts of it that seem chinese to me, i will try to absorbe the major part possible
     
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