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Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics: The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures [Kindle Edition]

Richard P. Feynman , Steven Weinberg
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Perhaps the two most important conceptual breakthroughs in twentieth century physics are relativity and quantum mechanics. Developing a theory that combines the two seamlessly is a difficult and ongoing challenge. This accessible book contains intriguing explorations of this theme by the distinguished physicists Richard Feynman and Steven Weinberg. Richard Feynman's contribution examines the nature of antiparticles, and in particular the relationship between quantum spin and statistics. In his essay, Steven Weinberg speculates on how Einstein's theory of gravitation might be reconciled with quantum theory in the final laws of physics. Both these Nobel laureates have made huge contributions to fundamental research in physics, as well as to the popularization of science. Anyone interested in the development of modern physics will find this a fascinating book.

Editorial Reviews


"...a book that all physicists will be pleased to have on their shelves, and one that will surely stimulate aspiring theoretical physicists." New Scientist

Book Description

Perhaps the two most important conceptual breakthroughs in twentieth century physics are relativity and quantum mechanics. Developing a theory that combines the two seamlessly is a difficult and ongoing challenge. This accessible book contains intriguing explorations of this theme by the distinguished physicists Richard Feynman and Steven Weinberg.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1243 KB
  • Print Length: 124 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 27, 1987)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001565AU8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,644 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lectures. Requires Math Background. February 18, 2006
This short book, Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics, offers two lectures: Richard Feynman's The Reason for Antiparticles and Steven Weinberg's Toward the Final Laws of Physics. These two talks comprise the 1986 Dirac Memorial lectures at Cambridge University. Both presentations are cogently structured and make fascinating reading.

The talks were directed at an advanced audience, one that was familiar with quantum mechanics. Unlike many popular presentations by Feynman and Weinberg, these lectures are not suitable for the general layman.

However, these lectures are accessible to a persistent (perhaps, stubborn) layman with a calculus background and a deep interest in particle physics. I am not a physicist, but I did take my share of physics, chemistry, and math courses several decades ago. I encountered Schrodinger's equation in more than one class, but not relativistic quantum mechanics. However, having recently read Bruce Schumm's wonderful review of particle physics (titled Deep Down Things), I was sufficiently motivated to work my way through both Dirac memorial lectures.

Richard Feynman's lecture, The Reason for Antiparticles, is decidedly the more difficult. Feynman first demonstrates that quantum mechanics and relativity together require the existence of antiparticles, and then shows that they also establish the spin-statistics connection. Within a few pages advanced mathematical expressions appear and then persistently stay in the foreground for nearly the entire talk.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars five stars for the lectures, one star for the book November 1, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This slender volume comprises the first two Dirac Memorial Lectures, endowed by St. John's College, Cambridge, in honor of one of its most distinguished alumni, Paul Dirac, one of the originators of quantum mechanics, and the first to successfully meld quantum mechanics with special relativity to produce what eventually became quantum field theory and the Standard Model of particle physics. The first lecture is by Richard Feynman, who helped perfect quantum electrodynamics, that portion of quantum field theory dealing with interactions of electrons and photons, the modern view of electricity and magnetism. The second is by Steven Weinberg, who pioneered the unification of electromagnetism with the weak nuclear force, pointing the way towards the Standard Model and beyond to an as-yet-unrealized dream of a Grand Unified Theory encompassing all of physics including gravity.

The lectures themselves are terrific. This review is focussed on Feynman's lecture, which is the reason I bought the book. The target audience for the Dirac lectures according to Weinberg (page 67) was "undergraduates who have had a first course in quantum mechanics". Such a course would typically not include a lot of the material covered by Feynman. His lecture concerns itself with two very deep topics in quantum electrodynamics: how the inclusion of special relativity predicts antiparticles, and the relationship between a particle's spin and its behavior in aggregates (statistics). Basically, he starts by showing how a simple mathematical theorem requires that if we restrict our analysis of particle interactions to include only particles with positive energies, then particles travelling faster than the speed of light must be included in the analysis.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Physics by two of the very best! September 24, 1999
As usual, the best physics books are short and to the point, as is this one. The two Dirac lectures may serve as a perfectly good mini physics course all by themselves. I always enjoy a Feynman lecture, and this is no exception. He cuts to the chase without sacrificing the plot. But, I must say, in this case the Wienberg lecture is the better of the two. Weinberg's style has a particular grace & beauty about it that gently exposes the aesthetic meaning of the search for a picture of nature.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Summary of Paul Dirac Memorial Lectures October 17, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a summary of 1986 Paul Dirac memorial lectures delivered by physicists, Richard Feynman and Steven Weinberg. This book requires the knowledge of undergraduate level physics and perturbation theory, and it is described in two chapters; the first is by Feynman under the title "The reason for antiparticle." This section describes the first attempt of Dirac in 1928 to "wed" newly discovered quantum mechanics and theory of relativity. When relativity was included into Schrodinger's pure wave equations, the relativistic equation (Dirac equations) would only be satisfied if there were two solutions corresponding to positive and negative energy states, and in the case of the electron, an electron with a positive charge was required for negative energy state. Thus the existence of antiparticles (positron) was predicted as a direct result of combining the relativity with quantum mechanics. Paul Dirac was also able to explain the origin of the electron magnetic moment and spin. Feynman postulated one of the revolutionary thought in quantum field theory, that antiparticles could be viewed as particles going back in time. This should not be taken as a physical reality in which cause - effect sequence could be revered. Because during the Lorentz transformation the time sequence of two events gets reversed, one of them could not have been the cause of the other because the two events are outside each other's sphere of influence. In frame A, if event 1 occurs first and event 2 occurs after event 1, but in frame B, event 2 occurs before event 1. This is possible in relativity because the time ordering of two events is not an absolute concept; one event can be in the past of another event in one frame, and in its future in a different frame. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It is about Energy, momentum, electric charge and ...
It is about Energy, momentum, electric charge and spin. However he has filled his book with many formulas concerning, symmetry transformations, state vectors and Lagrangian... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Roger Doger
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
A good book, but a little difficult to understand in some areas for the 'average' guy. It was probably meant to be that way.
Published 11 months ago by Theron M. Terhune
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT BOOOK
This was a very well written manuscript of two very important lectures on extremely interesting topics done by two of the greatest experts in the field, very educational and a must... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mary Echternacht
3.0 out of 5 stars The Dirac memorial lectures by Feynman and Weinberg
Two top-notch physicists of the mid-20th century give here the P.A.M. Dirac memorial lectures.
Professor Dirac of Cambridge University was a major force in the development of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Anilao diver
5.0 out of 5 stars great
This book was ship really fast. This book is a great book was written by one of the best physicist whom was one of the best .
Published 20 months ago by Eddie Banuelos
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Amazing piece by Feynman on the relation between quantum statistics and spin. It is great for someone who is not an expert in the field, but has some physics background.
Published 21 months ago by Miklos Stern
5.0 out of 5 stars Feynman
Very interesting litterature...In my university days this type of books very hard to get to sweden hence the books very unike and you often got one from a collecue and if you were... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars physics book
hard to find at local bookstores and a very interesting, somewhat deep but a great study book if this is your interest.
Published on January 2, 2012 by BILL WALKER
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun exciting read
This books is really cool. Its targeted to someone already kinda familiar with physics and Quantum Mechanics but you only need the most basic understanding. Read more
Published on September 15, 2011 by david
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading--but you should temper your expectations...
Richard Feynman and Steven Weinberg, giants in the world of physics, and especially in quantum field theory, obviously have a great deal to offer. Read more
Published on February 26, 2011 by Ulfilas
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