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String Theory Demystified 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071498708
ISBN-10: 0071498702
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David McMahon has worked for several years as a physicist and researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. He is the author of Linear Algebra Demystified, Quantum Mechanics Demystified, Relativity Demystified, MATLAB Demystified, and Complex Variables Demystified, among other successful titles.

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Product Details

  • Series: Demystified
  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (September 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071498702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071498708
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lubos Motl on November 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I actually love the book, its format, and its focus. Imagine that your task is to take Polchinski's textbook on String Theory and compress both volumes to 320 light pages or so.

You have to include some basics of GR, QFT, abstract classical mechanics but also the CFTs, bosonic strings, light cone gauge, T-duality, symmetries, RNS superstring, heterotic strings, D-branes, AdS/CFT, black holes. But you also add some material that was not yet fully covered in Polchinski's book such as tachyon condensation on D-branes and the speculative field of string cosmology, among others.

I think that if you realize your task well, you will end up with a book very similar to McMahon's book. As a kid or undergrad, I would actually love the playful format of the book, the icons and big headlines. In fact, I like it even now. It's the format that succeeds to attract the reader's attention and give him or her the (semi-realistic) feeling that the knowledge needed to fully master string theory is of encyclopedic character and "learnable" in a finite time.

Although the brevity of many explanations will clearly make it insufficient for all readers to understand the true origin of all results and steps, this is a book focusing on real, solid scientific arguments.

This is a simplified but technical, not popular, book that won't overwhelm you with postmodern philosophical babbling, trying to convince you that it can replace the calculations and lead you instantly to "big" conclusions without any hard work. It is a book that shows the actual correct calculations and derivations, albeit in a simplified form.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, this book is not for everybody. It's not for the pop-science reader, it contains far too much mathematics to be of any use for him. It's not for the professional scientist seeking in-depth understanding either. If you are either type of reader, you're better off reading something else.

Every book has its readership target, and this book found one appreciative reader in this reviewer. I have a background in engineering, so I'm familiar with differential equations, complex analysis, quantum mechanics. I never took any postgrad physics, so given my interest in physics I've had to study tensor analysis, quantum field theory and general relativity on my own. After getting some exposure to those subjects, I felt I could tackle an introduction to strings, and thought this book would be a good way of quickly getting the broad concepts. I found the book easy enough to be readable, and challenging enough to learn something from. If you have a background similar to mine, you will love this book.

If you do have this sort of background, then you'll find it to be a very good summary of string theory. It will give you the broad concepts without skimping on the mathematics. It will prepare you for texts like Zwiebach and Polchinsky.

There are flaws in the book, however. There are still way too many typos in the book, and some of the examples are stepped through in steps that ought to be obvious to anyone at this level, while others are not explained in sufficient detail. The issue of typos seems to be an ongoing one with the Demystified series, but thankfully this particular book seems to suffer from fewer typos than some of the others.

Aside from that, this reviewer found it a very useful introduction to the subject, and would strongly recommend it to anyone in a similar situation. However, it may not be suited to pop-science readers or professionals.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David McHahon does provide a simplified and straight forward overview of String Theory, but fails to make the physics lucid and inviting.
He does, however, take great pains to provide lots of worked examples.
This does help in gaining a proficiency in tackling String Theory and understanding its underlying concepts. It is, however, not a substitute
for a good textbook.
One problem that undermines the effectiveness of String Theory: in this and is a few of his other workbooks on physics and math, his solutions are riddled with typos.
He and his readers would be better served if his editor were more careful and demanding.
In short, a workbook worth having if you have enough confidence to trust in your own math and skills to overcome his editor's shortfalls.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dear David, 23 October 2015

Your recent message actually obliged me to do some serious thinking about whether or not I was truly satisfied in having ordered and received a copy of String Theory Demystified. Dear sir, I must admit that you opened quite a few avenues for conjecture not to mention a few potential cans of worms, at least given the tenor of customer reviews currently posted by amazon and surely those that have been posted in the recent past. Sad to say, there are apparently those among us who have nothing better to do than to whine, weep, and wail for seemingly no good reason, and these outbursts are worse than merely wanting "egg in their beer", as the saying on the street goes, i.e., there is no pleasing these noisome nitpickers under any rational circumstances whatsoever! I guess it should not come as any great surprise to me that some reviewers even incorporate the most obscene of unnecessary expletives and other imprecations purely on the pretext of not being perfectly satisfied with their purchases, such dissatisfaction many a time quite simply predicated upon their own misunderstanding of just what it was they thought they were buying! I am writing all this merely to try to convince you that you ought not be so tough on yourself, particularly if a bad review may not at all be your fault. I can tell you from years of personal experience that it is not easy to imagine the outright ignorance and utter childish petulance of some reviewers who have vehemently written reviews back to amazon merely to vent their spleens, and this for no apparently rationally viable reason.
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