- Hardcover: 284 pages
- Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company (July 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9812706445
- ISBN-13: 978-9812706447
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,621,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fundamental Forces of Nature: The Story of Gauge Fields
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The book delivers what it implicitly promises: an instructive and thoughtful tour of 20th century physics, with special emphasis on the theory of the fundamental constituents of matter and forces among them. -- Physics Today
This volume is an excellent survey on gauge fields, which presents the relevant facts, people and events of the subjacent theory. --Zentralblatt MATH
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Top customer reviews
Yes, the author explains the equations, but much would be lost that unfortunately can't be treated in this manner. It is not a "light read." Thus, I feel that I should give this caution for those who do not have at least an undergraduate level understanding of the pertinent mathematics and physics. This is not to frighten away the motivated reader, but just to give fair warning that at least a basic understanding of the equations is necessary to gain full value of the book.
Otherwise, I give this book my highest recommendation for those interested in one of the best explanations of gauge fields and the history and individuals involved in their development that I have seen.
He explains the difference between global and local invariance as follows: With global invariance, if we define the electron to have negative charge on the earth, then it must have a negative charge on mars. With local invariance, it can have a positive charge on mars. But if you bring an electron from mars to the earth, it will obey the local rules and act as if it had negative charge. As quantum mechanics developed, global invariance was replaced by local invariance, and this ended the long reign of "action-at-a-distance" in physics.
He presents some differential equations, because you must, but they don't convey much to me. He explains the effect they have on the physics.
I thought that fiber bundles were a very difficult concept in higher mathematics, but in the context of gauge invariance, they are actual fibers, and the meaning is concrete and easy to understand. Sometimes the pure mathematicians make things too abstract.
He explains the Higgs mechanism that has recently been in the news because they finally detected the Higgs particle. He also explains how it started with work by Philip Anderson on superconductivity. Superconductors repel magnetic fields--this is called the Meissner effect. In Anderson's model, the superconducting field imparts a mass to the photons that carry the magnetic field. Because of their mass m, they can only penetrate an amount 1/m, which agrees with experiment. This model was taken up by the particle physicists, who extended it, creating a Higgs field that pervades the entire universe and gives everything mass. The Anderson-Higgs mechanism, as it is sometimes called, involves spontaneous symmetry breaking, and Professor Huang explains this in a very simple way.
He also explains renormalization, and what we now know, the reason behind it.
Another tidbit: In quantum mechanics, time t is related to temperature T by t = constant.iT, where i is (-1)^1/2, and says we have no idea why this is.
I don't believe there is any book which achieves this so well !