- Hardcover: 392 pages
- Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Later prt. edition (October 20, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080187971X
- ISBN-13: 978-0801879715
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics Later prt. Edition
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"A fascinating journey into the bizarre, subatomic world of particle physics."(PhysOrg.com)
"Quantum field theory, group theory, Lie algebras, internal symmetry spaces and gauge theory. [Schumm] does a remarkably good job of explaining all this, with a style that is mercifully plain. "(Peter de Groot New Scientist)
"Explores the world of particle physics in terms laymen can understand. "(Santa Cruz Sentinel)
"I expect that any physics undergraduate, bewildered by textbooks and lectures, would find this a delight."(Stephen Battersby New Scientist)
"One of several recently published books attempting to provide for interested nonphysicists a relatively nonmathematical account of what has come to be called the standard model of particle physics... Schumm's treatment is perhaps more detailed."(Choice)
"Bruce Schumm's new book on elementary particle physics, Deep Down Things, is an ambitious and very successful non-mathematical description of the nature and significance of the world of elementary particles and forces. The book is for the non-mathematician, the non-scientist interested in elementary particle physics, and the young student who has not yet begun to study physics. The subjects discussed range from the wave-particle duality and basic quantum mechanical ideas, through description of the four fundamental forces, to the inner theoretical world of particle physics―symmetries and gauge theory. The book ends with an exciting discussion of what we don't know including the recently discovered mystery of neutrino oscillations."(Martin Perl, the 1995 Nobel Laureate in Physics)
"The Standard Model is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of the twentieth century. Everything around us is made of particles called quarks and leptons influencing one another by exchanging bosons. Readers who want more than a surface treatment of this modern paradigm of particle physics should turn to Bruce Schumm's fine book on the topic."(Michael Riordan, author, The Hunting of the Quark)
"This is definitely a book for your Christmas list, and if it doesn't excite your mathematics colleagues too, they'll miss a treat."(Rick Marshall School Science Review)
"This book is beautifully written and is a didactic masterpiece."(David Watts Science and Christian Belief)
About the Author
Bruce A. Schumm is a professor of physics at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Top customer reviews
If you are tired of books that throw out words like "symmetry" and "gauge theory" without ever explaining (at least conceptually) what these terms mean and how these concepts relate to a deep understanding of particle physics then this is the book to buy.
The author explains the mathematical concepts quite simply and in such a way that if you can read ANY popular book on physics then you can understand how Lie Algebras and Gauge Theories help derive the eightfold way, the charges on some bosons, the probability of the Higgs field/particle, and therefore lead to the Standard Model of particle physics.
Imagine a book which covers these topics (Lie Groups, Lie Algebras and Gauge Theories) without ever seeming mathematically challenging or complex. Here it is.
My only disappointed? It doesn't cover more, because this is the best exposition -- real teaching at a world class level -- of the subjects it does cover. If Schumm ever writes another book I will buy it, sight unseen.
If you have read, or wanted to read "The Road to Reality" by Penrose (which I highly recommend if you have the determination to read it), this will make several sections of that book much easier to understand -- were all of Penrose's explanations as high quality as "Deep Down Things" there would likely never be a better book on these subjects.
For anyone considering this book, the answer is simple: buy it and enjoy reading it.
and the Standard Model, and wanted to understand the mathematics found in actual textbooks,
as opposed to popularizations that skim the surface with simple analogies but provide no depth.
The problem with textbooks, of course, is that they're the other extreme: obliterating levels
of depth but very little background on the concepts used.
In particular, very few books I've read cover the basic mathematical ideas used to construct
the theories, and do so in a manner that allows readers of all levels to climb aboard
and/or skim based on their level of experience.
This book does that, and does it well. It covers topics such as:
- groups, in particular Lie groups and Lie "algebras" and what they are
- symmetry (i.e. what it _really_ means in physics, not just handwaving about mirror reflections and rotations)
- what U(1), SU(2), and SU(3) stand for, and how they're used
- gauge theories, including non-Abelian (non-commutative) theories
- Feynman diagrams and interaction vertices, and their relationship to gauge terms in the Standard Model
- the approaches used to develop the pieces of the Standard Model (electromagnetic, electroweak, strong)
- what hidden/broken symmetry is, and how the Higgs particle/potential fits in
All this and more, in a thorough, approachable style with useful analogies that help you latch onto
the actual math used in physics. The way everything is put together here, step by step, gives the
reader a real sense of how the Standard Model, for all its flaws and dependence on constants
derived from experiment, is not merely a collection of random bits of group theory, but is actually
a delineation of All There Can Be (apart from gravity, of course, which we're still working on).
About the only piece of physics terminology the book doesn't name-check is the "commutator relation"
[A,B] = AB - BA, which is basically another name for the Lie "algebra" defining the non-commutativity
of the generators of a Lie group, which this book _does_ describe, and very lucidly. And I only
bring it up because "the commutator" is often mentioned in advanced physics, but _never_ defined
as clearly as it is here, even if only indirectly, so making this link would only add to the book's
value to a newcomer.
So, to sum up, this book is well worth reading if you're interested in having a real understanding
for the math behind the Standard Model, and particle physics in general, presented in a style that
is thorough but nevertheless approachable, regardless of your background.
One of the strengths of this work is its well thought out structure and progressive flow. It warms the reader up with a very readable description of basic concepts that a number of us may recall from a high school/intro level college physics course. Some of these include the four forces of nature, Einstein's relativity, wave particle duality and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The book then transitions into the more complex realm of elements such as Schrodinger's equation, quantum field theory, Feynman's diagrams, spin and fundamental particles. Finally, with the reader's brain adequately prepared, it leaves the most esoteric theories such as Lie groups, internal symmetries and Gauge theory for last.
If this sounds like an intimidating list of ideas for a non-physicist to read, don't be alarmed because the greatest strength of this book is its impeccable clarity. The author masterfully uses everyday metaphors and analogies to make the aforementioned concepts very accessible to those of us with minimal training in mathematics and physics. Using a very conversational tone, he almost assumes the role of that favorite high-school or college teacher that goes to great lengths to spark your interest and facilitate understanding.
Obviously, due to the innate complexity of the subject, this is still not a total breeze to read. You will find yourself concentrating really hard on certain sections and rereading some passages just to fully digest the finer details. Having said that, the only prerequisites to enjoy and comprehend this title is not mastery of math and physics, but inquisitiveness, patience and a bit of determination. When you finally get through the book, I believe that you will be very satisfied to have a working understanding of the Standard Model of particle physics.
So to conclude, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding particle physics or just generally has high level of intellectual curiosity.