- Paperback: 456 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 28, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521634202
- ISBN-13: 978-0521634205
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories
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"...a work of remarkable scope that integrates physics with the history and philosophy of science without being superficial in any of these diverse disciplines. It surely stands alone as a unique intellectual undertaking...an informative and rewarding intellectual experience." James T. Cushing, Physics Today
"Tian Yu Cao has written a very unusual book, very informative and yet challenging to some conventional ideas..." Lauri M. Brown, American Journal of Physics
"The book is studded with gems....it ought to be required reading for every student of relativity, certainly for every teacher of the subject." Arthur Fine, Science
"...a deep and masterly overview of the conceptual foundations of field theories." Helge Kragh, Isis
"...built around the tacit premise that there exists one canon of important physics papers, each with its own correct interpretation....Cao stands poised now to right us in our quest." Historical Studies in the Physics and Biological Sciences
The purpose of this book is to give a broad synthesis of 20th century field theories, from the general theory of relativity to quantum, field theory and gauge theory. These theories are treated primarily as conceptual schemes, in terms of which our conceptions and integrated picture of the physical world are formed. The aim is to give a cogent historico-critical expostion of the conceptual foundations of the theories to reveal a pattern and direction to the evolution of these conceptions.
Top customer reviews
If you've been following my collection of physics books which I post at my 'Shared Purchases' and 'Listmania Lists' portion ..., then you can see that I tend to ambitiously bite off more than I can chew in my choice of intellectual reading. As I admitted in my profile, I am a guy with not much more than half a brain and a driving passion to know what the hell is really going on in this Universe. I have been eagerly searching for a book that will challenge me to grow beyond my comfort level of popular yet slightly technical introductory treatments of physics (specifically Quantum Electrodynamics). Well, I FINALLY FOUND IT! This is a special discovery! As I hope you can tell, I am very excited about my latest exposure to Tian Yu Cao's "Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories". Cao's wonderful book serves as a didactic bridge across the gapping void we serious laymen come up against when we've finished pussy-footing around with popular-introductory Quantum Physics books and are driven to explore further than our formal education (or lack thereof) will allow when delving deeper into the daunting world of QM. I'm trying to come up to a level where I can get some appreciation and comprehension of the principles in Quantum Field Theories. For example, I ambitiously procured my own copies of "Inward Bound" by Pais, "The Odd Quantum" by Treiman, Schweber's "QED and the Men Who Made it - Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga", and Mehera's, "The Beat of a Different Drummer - the life and science of Richard Feynman". I look at these books and think, "QM looks so beautiful! I want to get a comprehensive grip on this stuff'" Hopeless without University level courses in technical mathematics and physics right? I'm not convinced, I suppose I'll find out sooner or later. As it is, I just keep at it. Day after day, I immerse myself in QM literature with a passion driven by my obsessive curiosity of Nature and what we know of her physical reality. Light, Atoms, Electromagnetic Waves, Matter, Particles, and Fields; these are the things I feel compelled to investigate'
Cao's book is another stepping stone in my self-directed journey of intellectual adventure. The pedagogy of the book is at a relatively safe and sane level for the explorer who is moderately courageous and not afraid to be uncertain about his/her competency in the learning curve. As I said, Cao's book bridges the terrible gap between the easy stuff (i.e. non-technical/popular/introductory/historical level) across the abyss towards the tougher stuff (i.e. technical/rigorously mathematical University level Introduction QFT textbooks). This is a very technical book for someone at my level but I believe that if you are somewhat like me (scary thought!) you can benefit from the book's pages when armed with a serious sense curiosity and a sincere desire to grasp deep & fundamental principles of Quantum Field Theory.
There are some scary looking mathematical formulas but if you're courageous you can breeze over them and let the copious qualitative text speak to your understanding. The only subjects in this book that I don't find of particularly immediate interest to me are his sections on General Relativity as I'm not a Gravity (field) enthusiast yet. I've skimmed over those sections and suspect that I'll be back later to visit it with more interest in the future.
Be sure to carefully read the what the other reviewers have to say about their opinions of this book, look at the book description and 'Table of Contents' link above. I suggest looking at some of the following books as a prerequisite to this book if you are anywhere near my level of intellect: "Strange Beauty" by Johnson, "The Force of Symmetry" by Icke, "The Quantum World" by Polkingthorne, "The Second Creation" by Crease & Mann, "The Quantum Universe" by Hey & Walters, "Why Things Are the Way They Are" by Chandrasekhar, "QED (The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)" by Feynman, "The Great Design (Particles, Fields, and Creation)" by Adair, "Paul Dirac (The Man and His Work)" by Pais, Jacob, Olive & Atiyah, "What Makes Nature Tick?" and also "Thinking About Physics" both by Roger Newton
I hope you will forgive my enthusiasm in this review if I seem overly zealous. I'm just a curious cat. ...