- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 17, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019969933X
- ISBN-13: 978-0199699339
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur 1st Edition
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"There is a need for a book on Quantum Field Theory that is not directed at specialists but, rather, sets out the concepts underlying this subject for a broader scientific audience and conveys joy in their beauty. Lancaster and Blundell have written with this goal in mind, and they have succeeded admirably." --Michael Peskin, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University
"This wonderful and exciting book is optimal for physics graduate students. ... The physical explanations are exceedingly well written and integrated with mathematics. Quantum field theory is the next big thing and this book will help the reader to understand and use the theory." --Optics & Photonics News
About the Author
Tom Lancaster, Lecturer in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Durham,Stephen J. Blundell, Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford
Tom Lancaster was a Research Fellow in Physics at the University of Oxford, before becoming a Lecturer at the University of Durham in 2012.
Stephen J. Blundell is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford.
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Top customer reviews
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1. The kind you can read on a plane, by itself, and enjoy the ride.
2. The kind you need to read with Wikipedia or a math encyclopedia (or "maths" as these British authors would say) handy.
3. The kind you need to read with at least two other major books, and possibly more. (The authors agree with me here, saying most good books require at least one other to augment them).
4. The kind you can't read at all-- it has to be STUDIED, with painstaking work.
I'd classify this gem as between 3 and 4. You really do have to know Fourier transforms, and a high level of undergrad relativity, or you'll miss a lot. That said, how can this be for an "amateur" at all? Well, the authors use an ingenious trick: they put the easier and more popular intuitive concepts in bigger type, and numerous smaller worked, mathematical examples in smaller type. So, you can, in a sense, read/study at your own level.
I also find that ethical authors and publishers, especially with a book of this high cost, are generous with the look inside feature, because they care more about you not being disappointed than making an inappropriate sale. Hats off, the look inside is excellent, please do peruse it carefully before deciding.
Since any one aspect (eg. gauge theory) can occupy a dozen texts on its own, how do the authors cover the entire field? Again, VERY WELL DONE-- they give a concept, a little diagram in the margin, an easy example, a hard example, an exercise, and very detailed further reading, with references that are up to date. This makes this wonderful text an awesome "reference guide" to further study, especially for those going on in physics.
Now for the bad part. This book "really" isn't for amateurs in the way most of us mortals think of them. An amateur can fix your railing with a 2 x 4 but can't build you a cabinet. In the authors' minds, an amateur can build you the cabinet, but not the entire study/library. In other words, "amateurs" are pretty mature physicists, with at least undergrad and IMO grad level math and physics, who haven't yet tackled the toughest subject, mathematically, at all. I frankly believe the target IS GIFTED undergrads, and if you are rusty on your math, or haven't taken recent advanced linear algebra and calculus, you'll get lost quickly.
On the "amateur" side of instant confusion, physicists are NOTORIOUS for "leaving out" variables like Planck's constant, the speed of light, certain duals and inversions/ inverses of transforms, etc. They justify this by setting them to 1 anyway, so they are close in value, or drop out. Doing so will confuse anyone without the "insider" knowledge of what they are doing. These authors do the same thing, but have the courtesy to show us when, where, why and how, which is helpful in reading ANY other book, bravo!
There are many other, particularly Dover books that are a better "intro," to QFT, but they are not up to date and not nearly as advanced as this wonderful new option. This book fills an absolutely unmet need-- requiring an intro or companion below, yet mapping those above in ways not yet done by any other text. So, here is the bottom line: worth it IF: a. You've finished the intro and are ready for the next step, or b. You're into the advanced and flailing, or c. You are willing to do the hard work of reading other books along with this, to study it rather than just read it. Even with rusty math ("maths"), you'll get a LOT that way. (I'm not teasing the British as one of their more successful colonies, but I am American, and do say math!).
If you're a new grad or undergrad IN the field, it is a must! Otherwise, please do check out the look inside feature before committing-- I believe it is clearly worth the price, but it also is not cheap, and times are tough for many of us, particularly students. BTW, speaking of cost, I found many of the question sets similar to the exercises here free on Preptorial dot org, which offers free exercises in many fields of Physics, in preparation for tests and exams. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for the right level reader.
One thing that I would suggest the authors to include in a future edition is a final chapter about the position of QFT with respect to other theories (eg. string theory) as well as other scientific fields such as chemistry and biology. For instance, double-slit experiments on fullerenes and other large molecules suggest that they too behave like electrons or photons and hence, is the molecule a field? How do you describe the field of a composite particle such as an atom or molecule? If QFT can be applied to condensed matter physics, how could it be applied to molecular biology? Well, there is a lot of interesting stuff inside this book, why not giving it a try?