- Series: Princeton Science Library
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (October 1, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691024170
- ISBN-13: 978-0691024172
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 232 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter New Ed Edition
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Physics Nobelist Feynman simply cannot help being original. In this quirky, fascinating book, he explains to laymen the quantum theory of light, a theory to which he made decisive contributions. (The New Yorker)
Feynman's lectures must have been marvelous and they have been turned into an equally entrancing book, a vivid introduction to QED which is leavened and enlivened by his wit. Anyone with a curiosity about physics today should buy it, not only to get to grips with the deepest meaning of quantum theory but to possess a slice of history.---Pedro Waloschek, Nature
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Feynman is that unique and rare breed of scientist who can successfully explain very complicated ideas in simple terms so non-scientists (or scientists not in his field) can understand. He uses his own brand of metaphors and analogies to clarify quantum mechanics, and QED is the perfect example of that.
In just four lectures (delivered, incidentally, at my alma mater UCLA in the 1980's), Feynman distills the essence of Quantum Electrodynamics without assuming any prior math or physics background in his audience. He doesn't use any calculus, any abstract algebra, heck he doesn't even mention complex numbers once! Incredible! QED has been hailed as the most precise scientific theory ever constructed because its predictions have been confirmed by so many experiments throughout the last half of 20th century. It reconciles the many discrepancies between the 'classical' version of electromagnetism and quantum mechanics and successfully explains many other anomalies seen in nature. Feynman shared the Nobel in physics (with Schwinger and Tomonaga) for playing a key role in developing the theory.
Using simple arrows and basic operations like 'shrinking' and 'turning' arrows, Feynman explains phenomena such as reflection by mirror, partial reflection by glass, absorption by opaque materials, the apparent slowing of light as it goes through water and other media etc. All through the lectures he maintains a light tone and makes several self-deprecating jokes about the way physicists name things (he reserves particular scorn and derision for the naming of quarks).
As a medical/graduate student in neuroscience but with some math and physics background (but not enough to actually understand renormalization and gauge theories), I really appreciated Feynman's ability to explain QED so effectively without ever sounding condescending (which a lot of physicists are unfortunately too prone to do).
This your chance to read one of 20th century's most influential physicist break down one of the most fundamental theories of physics with great style and elegance.
Another reivewer pointed out that this book is good because it is short. I agree; even if you don't understand it all on the first read, it isn't a major commitment to read it a second or third time.
A good teacher makes you feel smart and confident enough in your newly acquired knowledge to share it with others. Even though I couldn't pass even a basic test on QED, I did learn several interesting things about light that I can explain in casual conversation and even demonstrate. Share what you've learned with your children. This is interesting enough that you might inspire him or her to become a physicist.
The book describes using the framework developed within the book, the path integral description of quantum mechanics. That sounds more complicated than it actually is... The author describes how when summing over all the trajectories of the vectors he has constructed one naturally can predict/explain the outcome that seems so unintuitive. The glass experiment, reflection properties and oscillation properties set as a lucid example of path integral formalism at work.
Feynmen develops the framework to the furthest extent he can and stops before spin which would complicate the formalism. I am not a physicist and do not have the training and this book really cleared up a lot (it probably introduced more questions than answers, but thats a good thing). The dscription of particles running a clock as a representation of a wave (implicitly that is how its used to measure the probability amplitude) is genius and it actually gives me a proper mental picture of how to think about quantum phenomenon. Again, i feel a bit silly reviewing this book, i dont feel like my words of praise really do any justice to it, but if at least my positivity encourages others to read this book, then that is good enough.
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He is precise, accurate yet accessible on an infamously difficult and important...Read more