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Constructing Reality: Quantum Theory and Particle Physics Hardcover – September 5, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 5 edition (September 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007755449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107636385
  • ASIN: 1107004837
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"... [a] welcome gem. Read this book!"
Barry R. Masters, Optics & Photonics News

"Constructing Reality should be received as more than an exposition of quantum theory and the standard model of particle physics. It is a personal and passionate statement-a "what I believe" essay-by a distinguished physicist with a lifelong love of physics and a deep commitment to public service. In that context, the book succeeds and is a pleasure to read."
Kannan Jagannathan, Physics Today

"Marburger demonstrates a deep understanding of the topic and a polished writing style. The endnotes and the references are valuable for readers interested in higher-level readings or historical memois. Highly recommended."
J.F. Burkhart, Choice magazine

Book Description

Questions of the fundamental nature of matter continue to inspire and engage our imagination. Yet exciting new concepts remain mysterious and puzzling to people outside of these research fields. With concise, lucid explanations, this book is an essential guide to the world of particle physics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Howard L Ritter, Jr., M.D. on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who IS this Marburger?

The same sort of question occurred to me about physicist Bruce Schumm, although I didn't ask it publicly, when I read his book Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics. What I mean by this is that, like Schumm, John Marburger seems to have emerged fully formed into the perceptual sphere of those of us who are interested in reading robust, detailed nonprofessional treatments of the current state of physics, astronomy, and mathematics without having professional grounding in any of those areas. He brings us, from a personal history of negligible cross-section in the literature of science popularization, a book that I am confident will become an instant and durable classic. Marburger's "Constructing Reality" builds the structure of quantum mechanics and the Standard Model of physics, with all their particles, fields, and forces, their laws and symmetries, their mysteries and paradoxes--and their mathematics, from the ground up in historical fashion, as the fields themselves were developed, although it is not strictly speaking a history of either.

To his everlasting credit, when Marburger wrote the book "for [his] friends who are not physicists", he did not stint on challenging the reader who does not have four or five semesters of college mathematics. He does not simply present the math, and he doesn't teach the math, but he teaches us ABOUT the math in a way that makes a real but reasonable demand on the attention and mental effort of the non-expert reader.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By W. Cheung on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books on quantum physics I have read. It really gives the reader a clear description on the structure of reality as promised by the title. The author's strategy is to dispel misnomers. For instance, one has to accept that "wave", "particle", and "spin" are misleading and do not reflect the nature of reality accurately. He then highlights what actually can: namely the concept of quantum state vector in Hilbert space. This he achieves without any heavy mathematics. As expected, he then proceeds to describe gauge invariance. This is described in the context/background of relativity which he links together skillfully. Naturally gauge invariance is used to describe the underlying forces and bosons, including the Higgs bosons. The description of the Standard Model (in other words, that part of reality that we understand) is thus completed. After that he spends a small chapter on cosmic evolution and wraps things up nicely.

Saying all these, I think some background reading is helpful if not required. Otherwise, the book can get a bit dense at times. A high school level of mathematics, although ostensibly not needed, helps as well.

The clarity and perspicuity is laudable. Five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By humbug2 on December 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every book on particle physics has several things that are not in the other dozen books on particle physics I have read. Most of whom have a lot of pages devoted to the history of the field. This book does a better job of covering the subject as currently understood than any of the others. The only downside is a few places: when {...} therefore {...} left me befuddled. I will be spending hours digging to find and understand these relationships and connections.
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