The Odd Quantum

The Odd Quantum

The Odd Quantum

The Odd Quantum

Synopsis

"Many books and articles have been written in which it is attempted to make the basic ideas of quantum physics available to a larger public. None of these is remotely as lucid as Treiman's book. His entertaining style, his mastery, as well as his love of the subject are manifest on nearly every page. It is superbly written."--Abraham Pais, Rockefeller University, author of A Tale of Two Continents and Subtle is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein "Sam Treiman brings to the general reader an enormous wisdom and depth of understanding accumulated over a distinguished career in particle physics. An outstanding book!"--A. Zee, Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Fearful Symmetry and An Old Man's Toy "Professor Treiman has achieved a pedagogical miracle. He jumps over the drudgery of standard introductory physcis courses and reaches the excitement of modern elementary particle physics by going directly to the quantum theory that describes this sub-microsopic world and its constituents."--Marvin L. Goldberger, University of California, San Diego

Excerpt

This book suggested itself after I had conducted a one-time, one-semester freshman seminar at Princeton University. The seminar program, open only to first-year students, offers a wide range of special topics, many of them quite ambitious. Student participation is voluntary and selective; class sizes are small. The seminar in question was entitled “From Atoms to Quarks, Along the Quantum Trail.” I had anticipated and the students later confirmed that the material was rather demanding. But they were eager, open, and numerate. Most had taken earlier plunges of various depths into the popular literature on relativity, cosmology, the atom, nuclear and particle physics, and so on; and some had gotten whiffs of these subjects in highschool courses. They wanted to know more. It seemed likely that several of the students would later on, in the sophomore year, elect to major in one or another of the natural sciences or engineering. Others were headed in other directions, in the social sciences or humanities. What they had in common was a curiosity about atoms and electrons and neutrinos and quarks and quantum mechanics and relativity, and all that.

For many of the topics covered in the seminar there were excellent readings to be recommended, in books that offer mainly descriptive, not-too-mathematical accounts of the development of the atomic hypothesis in the nineteenth century; the subsequent discovery of the nucleus and its components; the later flood of subnuclear particles of various kinds; the modern quark picture; and so on. However, in order to dig beneath the qualitative picture and provide a deeper understanding, I wanted to devote some time to the underlying theoretical framework, to an introduction to quantum mechanical concepts and practices. There is of course no shortage of quantum mechanics textbooks for undergraduate majors, graduate students, and professionals in various branches of science and . . .

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