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String Theory Demystified [Kindle Edition]

David McMahon
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description


Trying to understand string theory but ending up with your brain in knots? Here's your lifeline! This straightforward guide explains the fundamental principles behind this cutting-edge concept.

String Theory Demystified elucidates the goal of the theory--to combine general relativity and quantum theory into a single, unified framework. You'll learn about classical strings, conformal field theory, quantization, compactification, and T duality. The book covers supersymmetry and superstrings, D-branes, the holographic principle, and cosmology. Hundreds of examples and illustrations make it easy to understand the material, and end-of-chapter quizzes and a final exam help reinforce learning.

This fast and easy guide offers:

  • Numerous figures to illustrate key concepts
  • Sample problems with worked solutions
  • Coverage of equations of motion, the energy-momentum tensor, and conserved currents
  • A discussion of the Randall-Sundrum model
  • A time-saving approach to performing better on an exam or at work

Simple enough for a beginner, but challenging enough for an advanced student, String Theory Demystified is your key to comprehending this theory of everything.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David McMahon has worked for several years as a physicist and researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. He is the author of Linear Algebra Demystified, Quantum Mechanics Demystified, Relativity Demystified, MATLAB Demystified, and Complex Variables Demystified, among other successful titles.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7665 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 1 edition (August 21, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00139XTFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,440 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A playful yet serious textbook on string theory November 26, 2008
I actually love the book, its format, and its focus. Imagine that your task is to take Polchinski's textbook on String Theory and compress both volumes to 320 light pages or so.

You have to include some basics of GR, QFT, abstract classical mechanics but also the CFTs, bosonic strings, light cone gauge, T-duality, symmetries, RNS superstring, heterotic strings, D-branes, AdS/CFT, black holes. But you also add some material that was not yet fully covered in Polchinski's book such as tachyon condensation on D-branes and the speculative field of string cosmology, among others.

I think that if you realize your task well, you will end up with a book very similar to McMahon's book. As a kid or undergrad, I would actually love the playful format of the book, the icons and big headlines. In fact, I like it even now. It's the format that succeeds to attract the reader's attention and give him or her the (semi-realistic) feeling that the knowledge needed to fully master string theory is of encyclopedic character and "learnable" in a finite time.

Although the brevity of many explanations will clearly make it insufficient for all readers to understand the true origin of all results and steps, this is a book focusing on real, solid scientific arguments.

This is a simplified but technical, not popular, book that won't overwhelm you with postmodern philosophical babbling, trying to convince you that it can replace the calculations and lead you instantly to "big" conclusions without any hard work. It is a book that shows the actual correct calculations and derivations, albeit in a simplified form.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction, but not for everybody July 5, 2009
First of all, this book is not for everybody. It's not for the pop-science reader, it contains far too much mathematics to be of any use for him. It's not for the professional scientist seeking in-depth understanding either. If you are either type of reader, you're better off reading something else.

Every book has its readership target, and this book found one appreciative reader in this reviewer. I have a background in engineering, so I'm familiar with differential equations, complex analysis, quantum mechanics. I never took any postgrad physics, so given my interest in physics I've had to study tensor analysis, quantum field theory and general relativity on my own. After getting some exposure to those subjects, I felt I could tackle an introduction to strings, and thought this book would be a good way of quickly getting the broad concepts. I found the book easy enough to be readable, and challenging enough to learn something from. If you have a background similar to mine, you will love this book.

If you do have this sort of background, then you'll find it to be a very good summary of string theory. It will give you the broad concepts without skimping on the mathematics. It will prepare you for texts like Zwiebach and Polchinsky.

There are flaws in the book, however. There are still way too many typos in the book, and some of the examples are stepped through in steps that ought to be obvious to anyone at this level, while others are not explained in sufficient detail. The issue of typos seems to be an ongoing one with the Demystified series, but thankfully this particular book seems to suffer from fewer typos than some of the others.

Aside from that, this reviewer found it a very useful introduction to the subject, and would strongly recommend it to anyone in a similar situation. However, it may not be suited to pop-science readers or professionals.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Workman's Workbook and Editor's Delight March 15, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David McHahon does provide a simplified and straight forward overview of String Theory, but fails to make the physics lucid and inviting.
He does, however, take great pains to provide lots of worked examples.
This does help in gaining a proficiency in tackling String Theory and understanding its underlying concepts. It is, however, not a substitute
for a good textbook.
One problem that undermines the effectiveness of String Theory: in this and is a few of his other workbooks on physics and math, his solutions are riddled with typos.
He and his readers would be better served if his editor were more careful and demanding.
In short, a workbook worth having if you have enough confidence to trust in your own math and skills to overcome his editor's shortfalls.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book, Some Caveats July 9, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The hardest thing about string theory is knowing how much math and physics you'll need to have under your belt even to get started. Many undergraduate physical science majors will find Barton Zwiebach's excellent "A First Course in String Theory" rather tough going, and they need something a tad lighter. If you find yourself in that fix, then this is the book for you.

Author David McMahon is an accomplished writer, and he seems to know exactly what problems beginners are facing when they try to learn this difficult subject. True, he tries to cover a little too much material in this short book (Zwiebach's first edition deals only with bosonic strings, and it's over 550 pages), and there are LOTS of typos, but the basic concepts are there, along with the minimal amount of mathematics to get through the theory.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Demystified ... a bit anyway.
Good: Kudos to McMahon for tackling such a daunting subject. This book won't make you a string theorist, but it covers a lot of ground albeit not too deeply. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Stekas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Starter
This book is an easy and fun book to read,simplifies complex issues in understandable words, well written, for the novice level
Published 17 months ago by Mary Echternacht
4.0 out of 5 stars review string theory demystified
The book is interesting. Very good for an overall view of the subject, but it has to be taken carefully, since if one wants to say that "knows" string theory, this book alone will... Read more
Published on June 29, 2009 by Mauro Rogerio Cosentino
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected...
I have just about every book about string theory and theoretical physics written for the lay person- Kaku, Greene, Randall, Smolin, Tyson, Hawking, Feynam, etc. Read more
Published on October 14, 2008 by Wood
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
The most challenging part of string theory for those who want to learn it is not the routine calculations and "index gymnastics" that is found in this book but rather the essential... Read more
Published on September 20, 2008 by Dr. Lee D. Carlson
3.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Improvement over Others in this Series
As one of the reviewers who has criticized many of the others in the Demystified series, I wanted desperately this time to find something good I could say about the current volume. Read more
Published on September 9, 2008 by Herbert L Calhoun
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More About the Author

I am is the author of Linear Algebra Demystified, Quantum Mechanics Demystified, Relativity Demystified, and A Beginner's Guide to Mathematica. He holds advanced degrees in physics and mathematics and works as a consultant at Sandia and Los Alamos National laboratories. He has worked on space nuclear propulsion, the ITER fusion project, optics, and quantum information theory. More information about my books including sample text can be found at

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