Archive for the ‘Physics’ Category

Mathematical Physics

Friday, September 14th, 2012

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This book came to my attention because it starts with category theory in the first chapters and then moves to traditional contemporary mathematical physics topics such as topology and operators. It also covers groups, vector spaces, their duals, tensors, associative and Lie algebras, representation theory, spectral theorem, distributions, homotopy and homology. The author also provides physical examples along the way such as Fock vector spaces, dynamical systems, Minkowski space and algebra of observables. The flow of this mathematical text is very smooth (proofs can be omitted from reading) and explanations are very intuitive. The latter seems to be the main goal of this text. It is also structured into 56 chapters so it can be possible to casually read this book in 2 months during commuting like I did. One strange thing I noticed though is the avoidance of the manifold terminology: the author only uses the word “manifold” only once and without an explanation what it is about so you may even not notice that.

Mathematical Physics (Chicago Lectures in Physics)

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Classical Mechanics: Point Particles and Relativity

Friday, June 17th, 2011

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It was my dream since the school days to learn physics in its entirety. Whereas The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Commemorative Issue, Three Volume Set that I own (I read it at school before university in Russian translation) is a bit light and don’t include the developments of the past 40 - 50 years and Course of Theoretical Physics by Landau was a bit heavy for me at those times (although I read Mechanics volume in Russian and a few beginning chapters from other volumes) I finally found what I need: Theoretical Physics course from Walter Greiner. I have now the first 3 volumes (there are many more volumes including Quantum Electrodynamics, Gauge Theory of Weak Interactions, Quantum Chromodynamics) and just started reading the first one: Classical Mechanics: Point Particles and Relativity (Classical Theoretical Physics). It explains all necessary mathematics, has all derivations, lots of examples and illustrations, and even talks about dark matter (in the first classical mechanics volume). More important I also ordered the original German edition (Theoretische Physik. Klassische Mechanik I. Dynamik und Dynamik der Punktteilchen - Relativität) and reading both in parallel. This improves my German as well.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

The CRC Encyclopedia of Mathematics

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

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The CRC Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Third Edition - 3 Volume Set

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I spotted this book on Amazon US and was thrilled to have the new edition in 3 volumes for easy handling when reading. I also have the previous edition that is even featured on my own book cover (the picture of my previous library book arrangement, the book is highlighted in white rectangle in the lower right corner):

This is a unique volume that sits between The Princeton Companion to Mathematics (that I’m also reading now) and Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mathematics: The Mathematical Society of Japan (that I also own). In fact after reading 3 volumes from cover to cover I can start with 2 volumes of EDM. There is also Springer Encyclopaedia of Mathematics in 11 volumes with various additional supplement volumes that I plan to own as well and it looks to me on the same level as EDM.

After searching for the best price I ordered a copy from Amazon DE and after my purchase in just a few days the price was up by 50%! I can only explain this that more people tried to purchase after I used twitter to announce this encyclopedia (there were 5 copies available on Amazon DE and in just 2 days only 1 left) or there was a mistake in price.

3 volumes arrived and I immediately started reading them, a few pages from each volume every day using mod 3 reading technique, for example, Wed - Vol I, Thu - Vol II, Fri - Vol III, Mon - Vol I, an so on. I prefer paper books for bulk reading instead of electronic version (in this case corresponding website) although if I’m interested in a specific article or a keyword I go to Wolfram MathWorld website to get the latest update and citations. These paperback volumes are just for day-to-day scheduled reading to get ideas and general mathematical education. This is why I don’t need an Index. For example, just after reading the first pages I got the idea of cubic (qubic) memory representation.

I usually put reviews on Amazon after I finish a book from cover to cover but in this case the review would be waiting for at least a year so I write it now based on my first impressions. After some time I plan to update it.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Einstein’s Mistakes

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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I finished reading Dirac’s biography The Strangest Man 3 months ago and started to read this book. Its title intrigued me when I was browsing recent physics releases on Amazon and I bought it. It looks to me like the mix of brief biographical notes with explanation of physical theories. Here learning from mistakes undoubtedly helps to understand special and general relativity better. I also liked the short and clear explanation of EPR paradox in just one page, “revisionist” and unusual biographical notes on other scientists and their faults, like Galileo and Newton, and notes about Einstein’s private life. This makes him really human (he was like an ideal scientist from Plato Universe for me before). When I was reading Not Even Wrong and the Trouble With Physics books I thought of the possible “yellow press physics” (which is not bad, and doesn’t mean bad quality for me, I like to read yellow press sometimes and listen to pop music) and one day, at lunch, when reading about Newton madness and other peculiar character traits I thought about “yellow press physics” again. Was the choice of this book hardcover and jacket colors (yellow) made deliberate? Anyway, while approaching the end of the book and reading about how Einstein wasted 20-30 years on his idée fixe unified theories I immediately recalled String Theory, and indeed, the author voiced the same thoughts a few moments later when I turned a page over. I also liked the discussion on how General Relativity might have been discovered if it wasn’t formulated by Einstein. The author tells us that it would have been done via a QFT route. Einstein has fallen in my eyes, and now, after reading this book, he is not quite the hero of science like I imagined before. Nevertheless, his statue from McDonald’s is still on my shelves.

Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius
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I don’t want to repeat Einstein’s mistakes…

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Ideas and Modern Mind

Friday, August 7th, 2009

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This is an encyclopedic work I bought in a local book shop and finally finished reading today. It took me a year to read from cover to cover and pages were falling out of the glue but I continued to read. Highly recommended for education and another view on human history. The review of Freud was enlightening to me because I didn’t know about the recent scholarship criticizing his work. In fact, I so liked this book that just bought it again in a hardcover version from Folio Society and start rereading it again soon.

Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud

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The second encyclopedic book seems was written before the previous one but looks like the logical sequel to it. I’m starting reading it next week.

The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century

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- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Quantum Field Theory I

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

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I’m in love with QFT. I noticed this planned monumental 6-volume work some time ago but I bought this book from Amazon UK (I give the link to Amazon US here) after reading Quantum Field Theory Demystified and looking for more thorough ab initio treatment of QFT. Upon its arrival I immersed myself into it and in my opinion the first volume is like The Road to Reality but more mathematically oriented with proofs, numerous examples, historical notes, generous citations and references.

Quantum Field Theory I: Basics in Mathematics and Physics: A Bridge between Mathematicians and Physicists (v. 1)

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- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Quantum Field Theory Demystified

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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This was a nice short book for me to see some derivations and mathematics behind physical concepts discussed in more popular books that I read before such as The Road to Reality, Deep Down Things and The Great Design, Not Even Wrong and the Trouble With Physics and The Comprehensible Cosmos. Although I accelerated a bit skipping some derivations by the end of the book I was able to grasp most of them including explanations of Feynman rules and path integrals. Because I have never read anything mathematical about QFT some additional reading will definitely improve understanding. Perhaps I come back to this book again for a second read. For now, I start reading another book: A Unified Grand Tour of Theoretical Physics.

Quantum Field Theory Demystified

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- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Quantum Mechanics Demystified

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

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I read this book in a few days briefly glancing at problem solutions because my aim was to review QM I studied long time ago. Highly recommended for a quick review. I noticed some misprints in derivations even during quick read but all explanations (physical semantics) are very clear. Now I venture into mathematics and physics of Quantum Field Theory Demystified that I hope to finish in a few days too. Here detailed mathematics (especially derivations) of QFT is almost unfamiliar to me so I expect to learn something new here and my future book review will reflect this reading and learning experience.

Quantum Mechanics Demystified

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- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Relativity Demystified

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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As soon as I finished Linear Algebra Demystified I started reading this book and read it in a week. This book is about general relativity, only a few pages cover special one. Lots of equation derivations which I mostly skipped while approaching the end of the book. The algebraic treatment of tensors is refreshing after The Road to Reality which uses mostly graphical notation devised by Roger Penrose. I finally understood what Christoffel symbols are for and the distinction of holonomic and nonholonomic coordinate bases. I would say that this book is very heavy on the syntax of physics and has less discussion of physical semantics. I’ve started reading Quantum Mechanics Demystified and then I plan to start with Quantum Field Theory Demystified. After that I approach a bit more semantics by reading A Unified Grand Tour of Theoretical Physics by Ian Lawrie.

Relativity Demystified

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- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -

Homework for Grown-ups

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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It is interesting to compare core school subjects in 70-80s USSR with those in UK and Ireland. I certainly missed any religious education and many art-isms. Physical education (games) was also different except football and climbing a rope. So I bought this book in a local bookshop a few months ago to align my basic school education and finished reading yesterday while waiting in a queue in Irish visa office near Dublin O’Connell Bridge:

Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learnt at School…and Promptly Forgot

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It was also useful for me to learn some English words from basic biology, classics and geography.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ LiterateScientist.com -