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    Atkins' Molecules
    by Peter Atkins
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (25 September, 2003)
    list price: $32.99 -- our price: $21.77
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Explores the molecule nature of life
    This is a popular book on organic chemistry, a celebrated one at that, this being the second edition, substantially revised.The first was published in 1987.It is one of those almost legendary books of the publishing history, a technical book on a highly technical subject that somehow managed to reach something close to a large readership.

    Ironically, the reason is not so much in the drawings of the molecules, but in the text.Peter Atkins covers a wide range of interesting molecules and shows how they are related, and he makes their properties semi-accessible to the general reader.I say, "semi" because, frankly for this chemistry-challenged person, seeing two-dimensional shapes of the molecules helps me to understand them only slightly.I suspect for those more conversant with chemistry, the drawings (new for this edition) will be valuable.To me, the mystery of why a certain shape and elemental composition should result in a nutritious substance whereas something else with only the slightest change should be poisonous is not dispelled.

    He begins with "Simple substances," oxygen molecules, nitrogen, our air and its pollutants.He ends with the very complex DNA and RNA.Along the way he enlightens us about so many of the chemicals and foods and consumer products we use in our daily lives from soaps and gasoline to fats and oils, to painkillers and street drugs.His style is very readable and he has the welcome knack of being informative about interesting things.Here are some examples:

    Baking power releases carbon dioxide to leaven baked goods in two separate bursts."The first burst occurs at room temperature as a result of the action of the moistened tartaric acid...The second...is due to the action of the aluminum salt, and it occurs at high temperature."(p. 24)

    One of the differences between synthetic and natural vanilla (vanillin) is that the natural is "weakly radioactive," the former having been made from coal tar, "from which the radioactivity has long decayed," while the latter picks up some radioactive carbon-14 atoms captured from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. (p. 154)(Of course natural vanilla is also more expensive.)

    Lemons originally came from northern India and were introduced into the Mediterranean region about a thousand years ago. (p. 155)

    "Initially, a young white wine may have a greenish hue from the chlorophyll...molecules that survive fermentation." (p. 176)

    Window glass allows UV-A rays to pass through but blocks UV-B rays.(p. 180)I had always wondered about this because I had gotten conflicting information from different sources.

    There's a Glossary and many full color illustrations and photos on glossy paper in addition to the color-coded drawings of the molecules, some of which are very beautiful.There's an Introduction in which Atkins explains the difference between elements and molecules, between atoms and compounds, and differentiates between the bonds between atoms and the forces that hold molecules together.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great organic chemistry book
    P.W. Atkins's Molecules is probably one of the best general interest books written about organic chemistry.The 2nd edition is much expanded from the 1st, with more molecules and a much slicker presentation.Though the book is written for non-chemists, it's also useful for people in the field, who perhaps know the chemistry, but not the applications (if you walk into any chemist's office, look at his or her bookshelves, and can find a general interest book, chances are it's this one).Maybe the only thing bad I can say about the 2nd edition is that, unlike the 1st edition, it doesn't include the molecular line structures that organic chemists normally use, opting instead for the more colorful, but less useful, RasMol depictions.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Never buy an Atkins Book
    Dr. Atkins, I use Dr. loosely, should stop writing books.He assume the reader knows to much.Also, Dr. Atkins should stay in his own realm of chemistry, Physical chemistry and not try to intrude into other areas.Avoid this book like the plague.Atkins writes only to write them and get a fat check.The content is sub-par. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521535360
    Sales Rank: 358368
    Subjects:  1. Chemistry - Organic    2. Chemistry - Physical & Theoretical    3. Molecular Physics    4. Molecular structure    5. Molecules    6. Science    7. Science/Mathematics    8. Popular science    9. Quantum & theoretical chemistry    10. Science / Chemistry / General   


    $21.77

    Theoretical Concepts in Physics : An Alternative View of Theoretical Reasoning in Physics
    by Malcolm S. Longair
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (04 December, 2003)
    list price: $63.00 -- our price: $44.88
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of theoretical physics
    I recommend this book for final undergraduate and beginning graduate students in the Physical Sciences. As a PhD student in Astrophysics, this book has been very valuable and enjoyable for me. The historical perspective is also a very nice aspect of this book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 052152878X
    Sales Rank: 423871
    Subjects:  1. Mathematical physics    2. Physics    3. Science    4. Science/Mathematics    5. Astrophysics    6. History of science    7. Science / Physics    8. Theoretical methods   


    $44.88

    All the Mathematics You Missed : But Need to Know for Graduate School
    by Thomas A. Garrity, Lori Pedersen
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 November, 2001)
    list price: $29.99 -- our price: $29.99
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    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very helpful as a guide
    I found this book to be very helpful as a guide to self-study in mathematics.I did not rely on the chapters for understanding, but rather used them as a topic list for a several year course of study.I used the bibliography to find the best books for study and then later used the chapters as an essential review.When I finished, I felt I had a completely satisfactory undergraduate education in mathematics at a fraction of the usual cost.I now have an excellent library as well.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good for a recap, bad for anything more
    This book has a very particular purpose: to recap some basic concepts from undergraduate mathematics so that you get the "big picture". In other words, for every math course you took as an undergrad, this book provides a good outline of the major ideas and how they fit together. But, it is only an outline; nothing more. If you actually missed out on some topic, or your knowledge of a subject is shaky, then this book won't help much. It will only help by providing a bibliography of some other references for that subject.

    This book is meant to organize your undergraduate math knowledge, not to supplement it.

    With that said, I'll mention a few words about the content of the book. It is quite well written and definitely extracts the essential ideas for your quick consumption. There are a few topics that I personally feel are missing, such as Gram-Schmidt and Jordan Canonical Forms for Linear Algebra, and UFDs and PIDs from Algebra. In general, it seemed like the book leaned a little more towards analysis than algebra, but the vast majority of important topics were indeed encapsulated in their synopsis.

    Good for a very specific audience, but otherwise not wonderfully useful.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Tool for Diligent Self-Study
    There's no doubt about it -- this book designed for people who want to learn some real math.It doesn't take, as the title and description might lead you to believe, a "Math for Engineers" approach.

    Each chapter covers, in the span of 10 or 15 pages, what would normally be an entire semester's worth of material, and as a result, is quite dense -- there are alot of ideas crammed onto each page.But unlike traditional advanced math books (which are notoriously dense) the focus is more on developing intuitions than on long strings of equations.

    An important strength is that every chapter ends with suggestions on textbooks in that chapter's subject.This turns out to be quite helpful, since one can't reasonably expect to learn everything important about any of these subjects from a brief chapter in any book.

    I can envision three main ways in which this book might be useful: First, in combination with one or more of the books in listed in the bibliography for learning a new subject.Second, on its own for review of topics you've seen before.Third, as a reference for "basic" definitions and theorems, as in: "What's a Hilbert space again?"

    Overall, this will be a good book to have around, but not a substitute for real study. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521797071
    Sales Rank: 130105
    Subjects:  1. General    2. Mathematics    3. Science/Mathematics    4. Mathematics / General    5. Mathematics for scientists & engineers   


    $29.99

    The Major Transitions in Evolution
    by John Maynard Smith, Eors Szathmary
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 February, 1997)
    list price: $44.50 -- our price: $44.50
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Marvellous and Challenging Read
    This is arguably John-Maynard Smith's most challenging project in popular science writing. Written along with Eros Szathmary, a chemist, " The Major Transitions in Evolution" is written primarily for biologystudents, but can be understood by anybody with a solid background inevolutionary theory.How have the ways in which information is transmittedbetween generations changed through time and what were the crucialtransitions that made these changes possible? One early example thatillustrates the effect of these transitions is the origin of chromosomes.Nucleic acid strands (genes) capable of independent replication, at somepoint became linked and thereafter could replicate only as a set of linedgenes (chromosomes). A new way of storing information,a new informationsystem had evolved. How was this transition maintained through time?Would'nt unlinked genes which replicate faster be favoured by naturalselection over linked genes? In effect, would'nt selection at a lower leveldisrupt higher level organizatins? This is a common feature of many of themajor transitions and forms the fundamental theme of this marvellous book. In a series of chapters the authors discuss the evolutions of various levelof complexity. The chapters are arrange in a logical sequence begining withthe origin of life and moving on to successive transitions including theorigin of the genetic code, the origin of the eucaryotes, the origin ofsex, multicellularity, societies and language. The list here is notcomplete. I read the book from start to finish in a sequence, but readerswith a good background in the subject could probably start anywheredepending on their interest. For non-biologist this is not easy reading atall, and I would imagine that even biology students will find portionschallenging. An impressive quality of this book is the constant attempt toincorporate the pecularities of a particular system in developing anexplanation to explain its origin. A discussion on the origin of thegenetic code includes the possibilty that there could be a stero-chemicalbasis for specific amino acid-codon assigments, rather than it being a'frozen accident'. Another example is whether there is a causal connectionbetween haplodiploidy and evolution of sociality in eusocial insects. Theauthor warn against making this apparently intuitive connection, andinstead seek an explanation in split sex ratios and in some cases theparticular features of insect ecology. The highlight of the book for me wasthe last chapter on the origin of language. From Noam Chomsky's work on thestructure of grammer , syntax and language and representation, to anevolutionary explanation for its origin, this was really an informativeessay. The ever recurring argument against the evolution of complexadapatations, in this case language, by a series of adaptive intermediatestages, has been dealt with using examples from animal speech, the geneticsof language disorders and a section on the transitions from pigdin tocreole.The book strikes a good balance between explaining theory and thendiscussing the experimental evidence available. Wherever possible, newexperimental approaches are suggested. Finally, like any really good bookon science the authors not only bring you up to date with what has beendone, but also stress just how much more needs to be done. It is thisfeature about the book that leaves a lasting impression.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Industrial strength for biological initiates.
    John Maynard Smith gets an automatic thumbs-up from me for anything he writes.He is clear, pleasant, creative, unpretentious, authoritative and thoughtful. For this book he has teamed up with what seems to be anup-and-coming molecular biologist cum evolutionist and the team isimpressively powerful.The writing is all in Maynard-Smith's style as faras I can tell, so I don't know whether Szathmary is an exceptionallycompetent anglophone who shares thesame style, or whether they split thewriting duties to exploit their respective skills.All I can say is thatif you want a really rewarding read and you have a sound, not necessarilyadvanced, understanding of the basics of biochemistry, evolution andcellular physiology, then you cannot do better than this book.It makes nopretence to being comprehensive and gives only the minimum of introductorymaterial to support their views on evolutionary transitions.Even if youare familiar with the field, the book does not lend itself to skimming; itis the distillation of a lot of non-trivial thinking.

    An excellent book.Recommended to any professional in the field, to any student of the subjectand to laymen with a good background in the subject and who are notintimidated by a challenge and are willing to skip some of thebiochemistry.The later chapters are more accessible in that they dealwith more difficult subjects, such as speech and culture.

    Instead ofwatering down the content for educated laymen, the authors have published aless technical sequel: "The Origins of Life".This is alsoavailable from Amazon and, although it is intended for a wider audience, itis thoroughly rewarding for the professional.

    5-0 out of 5 stars First class
    Maynard Smith is one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists (for instance, he was largely responsible for the application of ideas from game theory to biological contests), and here he gives an excellent account of what he considers the most important transitions in evolutionary biology, including the origin of the genetic code, cellularisation, sociality and language. It's an astonishingly wide-ranging book, and highly recommended for anyone with any interest in any of these subjects in particular or in evolution as a whole. The writing is lucid and entertaining, and although some chapters probably require a familiarity with at least basic biology, Maynard Smith, like Richard Dawkins, can be understood by anyone who's prepared to make an effort. ... Read more

    Isbn: 019850294X
    Sales Rank: 256491
    Subjects:  1. Developmental Genetics    2. Evolution (Biology)    3. Genetic transformation    4. Life Sciences - Biology - Molecular Biology    5. Life Sciences - Evolution    6. Life Sciences - Genetics & Genomics    7. Organic Evolution    8. Science    9. Science/Mathematics    10. Animal ecology    11. Evolution    12. Genetics (non-medical)   


    $44.50

    Foundations and Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics (Prindle, Weber, and Schmidt Series in Advanced Mathematics)
    by Howard Whitley Eves
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 March, 1990)
    list price: $50.95
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars 'Swiss Army Knife' of Upper Level Mathematics
    I totally agree with the previous two reviewers on what they had to say about this wonderful book. However, I did want to briefly note that -- beyond merely being a fascinating overview of the development of beyond-calculus mathematics -- it is also a great resource for people needing to look up or review topics in advanced mathematics (especially mathematical logic). Again, to repeat what the others have said, buy this book if you have ANY interest in mathematics. You won't regret it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview.Belongs on Your Bookshelf.
    Howard Eves presents this five-star story of mathematics as two intertwined threads: one describes the growing content of mathematics and the other the changing nature of mathematics. In exploring these two elements, Eves has created a great book for the layman. I find myself returning to his book again and again.

    My few semesters of calculus, differential equations, and other applied math failed to formally introduce me to abstract algebras, non-Euclidian geometries, projective geometry, symbolic logic, and mathematical philosophy. I generally considered algebra and geometry to be singular nouns.Howard Eves corrected my grammar.

    "Foundations and Fundamental Concepts" is not a traditional history of mathematics, but an investigation of the philosophical context in which new developments emerged. Eves paints a clear picture of the critical ideas and turning points in mathematics and he does so without requiring substantial mathematics by the reader.Calculus is not required.

    The first two chapters, titled "Mathematics Before Euclid" and "Euclid's Elements", consider the origin of mathematics and the remarkable development of the Greek axiomatic method that dominated mathematics for nearly 2000 years.

    In chapter three Eves introduces non-Euclidian geometry. Mathematics is transformed from an empirical method focused on describing our real, three-dimensional world to a creative endeavor that manufactures new, abstract geometries.

    This discussion of geometries, as opposed to geometry, continues in chapter four. The key topics include Hilbert's highly influential work that placed Euclidian geometry on a firm (but more abstract) postulational basis, Poincaire's model and the consistency of Lobachevskian geometry, the principle of duality in projective geometry, and Decartes development of analytic geometry. For the non-initiated these topics may seem daunting, but Eves' approach is clear and quite fascinating.

    Chapter five, which might have been titled "The Liberation of Algebra", may at first be a bit overwhelming to those unaware of algebraic structures like groups, rings, and fields.But take solace as even mathematicians in the early nineteenth century still considered algera to be little more than symbolized arithmetic. As Eves says, non-Euclidian geometry released the "invisible shackles of Euclidian geometry".Likewise, abstract algebra created a parallel revolution. (Again, don't be intimidated by the terminology.Eves is quite good.)

    The remaining four chapters look at the axiomatic foundation of modern mathematics, the real number system, set theory, and finally mathematical logic and philosophy.Eves concludes with the surprising discovery of contradictions within Cantor's set theory as well as Hilbert's unsuccessful effort to define procedures to avoid inconsistencies or contradictions within an axiomatic system.

    Eves mentions Godel's fundamental contribution to mathematical logic, but stops short of delving into Godel's Proof. For additional reading I highly recommend "Godel's Proof" by Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman.

    I also highly recommend Richard Courant's and Herbert Robbins' classic, "What is Mathematics?", a more detailed examination of the development of fundamental ideas and methods underlying mathematics. I would suggest that most readers, particularly non-math majors, first read Eves and later tackle Courant and Robbins.

    I have read "Foundations and Fundamentals of Mathematics" at least twice.I gave my son a copy for Christmas. He says that the book is great and he even claims to be reading it as he walks across his campus between classes. The price is great. It belongs in your book collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ecellent description of the history of mathematical thinking
    There are several books available on the history of mathematics. Some give an account on the development of a certain area, others focus on a group of persons and some do hardly more than story telling. I was looking for onethat tells the story of the development of the main ideas and theunderstanding of what mathematics and science in general is (or what peoplethought it is and should be). Howard Eves' book is the first book I boughtthat gives me the answers I was looking for. Starting with pre-Euclideanfragments, going on with Euclid, Aristotle and the Pythagoreans, straightto non-Euclidean geometry it focuses on the axiomatic method of geometry.What pleased me most here is that the author really takes each epoch forserious. He quotes longer (and well chosen) passages from Euclid, Aristotleand Proclus to demonstrate their approaches. Each chapter ends with aProblems section. I was surprised to see how much these problems reveal ofthe epoch, its problems and thinking.

    The book goes on with chapters onHilbert's Grundlagen, Algebraic Structure etc, always showing not only thesubstance of these periods but also the shift in the way of thinking andthe development towards rigor. The last chapter is titled Logic andPhilosophy. Eves divides "contemporary" philosophies ofmathematics into three schools: logistic (Russel/Whitehead), intuitionist(Brouwer) and the formalist (Hilbert).

    The book ends with someinteresting appendices on specific problems like the first propositions ofEuclid, nonstandard analysis and even Gödel's incompleteness theorem.Bibliography, solutions to selected problems and an index are carefullyprepared to round up an excellent book.

    Should you buy this book ? Yes.What kind of mistake can you make in spending US$ 12.95 on a book that haswithstood the test of time through three editions (each with a differentpublisher). I havent completed reading the book yet, but I dont regrethaving bought it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0534921639
    Sales Rank: 1916202
    Subjects:  1. General    2. History    3. Mathematics    4. Philosophy    5. Philosophy Of Mathematics    6. Science/Mathematics   


    Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology
    by D. F. Lawden
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (27 January, 2003)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the topic
    This book is very good for those seeking an introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology. Nothing more than a basic and fundamental know-how of physics is required, atleast for the first few chapters. If you're comfortable with the simple basics of linear algebra, classical mechanics, electromagnetics and calculus, you should have no problem with this book.

    The book starts out with a basic review of classical physics and very quickly progresses to the Lorentz Transformation, and then to Cartesian Tensors and Special Relativity. Lawden handles the flow quite well, and covers the basic Special Relativity mechanics & electrodynamics as well as general Tensor Calculus & Riemann Spaces. Finally, he proceeds to discuss the General Theory of Relativity with a strong focus on Black Holes & Gravitational waves and analyzes elements of Cosmology in the light of the General Theory of Relativity.

    However, I would not recommend this book in and of itself for learning Tensor Calculus. Unfortunately, Lawden does not have any relevant references to Quantum Mechanics, either, which would have proven to be immensely useful to the novice reader. You'd also do well to brush up on your physics fundamentals before jumping head-on.

    This book primarily acts as a very basic introduction to those that are not familiar with some aspects of elementary modern physics such as Tensor Calculus and Relativity, and does an extremely good job of that.

    Personally, I'd highly recommend this book if you're looking to read up on Relativity & related areas.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The easiest and the cheapest technical introduction to GR
    There are many books on General Relativity but the reader has to be careful to pick the right one so as not to waste his (or rarely her) time and money! Lawden's book belongs to the class of technical introductions - it requires you to have an undergraduate background in physics and mathematics. The author is primarily a teacher and he has taken care to make the material as easy to understand as possible. On the other hand, this book will not enable you to go directly to the research literature. A great plus of the book is the very reasonable price. I have had the infuriating experience of paying more than $100 for a highly praised textbook only to find it unreadable. The mathematical formalism Lawden employs (tensor calculus based on covariant and contravariant tensors) is now considered old fashioned but it is still the easiest for a beginner in my opinion. Once you have finished this book, I recommend that you read Synge and Schild's "Tensor Calculus" for more depth in the mathematics and also "The Principle of Relativity" (a collection of original papers by Einstein and others) to get a feeling for the history of the subject. Both of these are also Dover paperbacks and very cheap. Then if you want a more modern approach, I recommend Schutz's "A First Course in General Relativity" which is still reasonably priced and will bring you closer to the level of contemporary research. Schutz uses a formalism of tensor calculus which aligns it with differential geometry and is now used in advanced textbooks. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0486425401
    Sales Rank: 218044
    Subjects:  1. Calculus    2. Calculus of tensors    3. Cosmology    4. Mathematics    5. Physics    6. Relativity    7. Relativity (Physics)    8. Science    9. Science/Mathematics    10. Science / Physics   


    $10.17

    Modern Elementary Particle Physics: The Fundamental Particles and Forces
    by G. L. Kane, Gordon Kane
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1993)
    list price: $50.00 -- our price: $50.00
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    Reviews (3)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not for the professional, and not for the lay either.
    My background is electrical engineering, so I'm not a physicist or a lay person. I thought this book would be perfect, but it wasn't. It started out well enough, and I was following along, relying on my knowledge of electrophysics, and Maxwell's equations. But I was soon in trouble, as Kane began to rely on a mathematical operator, the Lagrangian, one which I hadn't any experience. Thinking I had forgotten something, I went looking for it, but it wasn't in any of my old math books. OK, I'll just follow along, I thought, not trying to verify the results in my own mind. But soon I was in trouble, as Mr. Kane began just listing equation after equation, with little or no explanatory text to tie it all together. After a time, my interest waned; this was very frustrating, since I was tired of reading "popular physics" books, with their unsatisfying explanations, but I knew I wasn't ready for graduate level quantum physics texts since my physics background is not that sophisiticated. This book began with promise, but ended without its fulfillment.

    I don't know what the answer is, except to warn readers to be versed in the Lagrangian before they get started.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Intuition
    Great ! Great ! Great !This book is all about physics. The real physics... The physics is not lying in the trace theorems or in other technicalities of Quantum Field Theory but in simple, straightforward, physical arguments that arise from the basic principles ofrelativity and quantum mechanics. And Kane's book is all about that. As J.JSakurai once said, a student may be a leading expert in calculating stateof the art cross sections but if he/she cannot answer the simple questions,quickly and easily, then all is lost. Kane gives the reader the ability toquickly come up with answers for questions like "what do I expect thewidth for this particle to be", or "taking into acount thissymmetry how do I expect this cross section to behave". As Fermi said,dont start the long calculation if you dont have a quick and dirty firstresult that will guide you along the more rigorous and exact calculation.So this book is all about that and physicists from all backgrounds will beable to follow it. I think that the book can serve excelently as anintroductory graduate course before the hifh energy student moves to themore technical Field Theory books. In my opinion it is a disaster to jumpinto a rigorous Quantum Field Theory book before grasping the big pictureand understanding why the heck all the pain is needed for the longtheoretical calculations. And Kane's book serves this purpose. I am agraduate student at Stony Brook in experimental heavy ion physics and Ispent some gratifying evenings going through the pages of the book. Afterthe reading of this book interested readers in particle physics should alsoconsider the books by Chris Quigg and also the classic Halzen - Martinbook.The book touches upon all aspects of the standard model. I stronglysuggest it !

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, very readable intro to the Standard Model
    Particularly good are the first 8 chapters introducing gauge theories and the Standard Model.This isn't a field theory text - Kane doesn'tintroduce spin sums or trace theorems so he never fully calculates aprocess; instead, he relies on dimensional analysis to provide approximateresults.As a high energy theory student, I found this to be a drawback,but I guess that's what Peskin's book is for.Also, there are a fairnumber of minus signs and indices incorrect throughout the book (nothingserious, just a little annoying). ... Read more

    Isbn: 0201624605
    Sales Rank: 485060
    Subjects:  1. Nuclear Physics    2. Particle Physics    3. Particles (Nuclear physics)    4. Physics    5. Quantum Theory    6. Science    7. Science/Mathematics    8. Standard model (Nuclear physic    9. Standard model (Nuclear physics)   


    $50.00

    Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity
    by Edwin F. Taylor, John Archibald Wheeler
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (12 July, 2000)
    list price: $38.45 -- our price: $32.55
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    Reviews (9)

    4-0 out of 5 stars teaches calculations, some statements without justification
    I am a graduate student in physics and I like reading books for undergraduates like this one. I've learned more from this book than from the 'bible' MTW or from the usual superficial graduate courses in GR that boil down to 'index gymnastics' whithout conceptual depth.

    The dominant theme in the book is spherically symmetric noncharged and nonrotating black holes described by the Schwartzschild metric. Only the last two projects deal with rotating black holes and cosmological metrics. The book covers only a small application chapter of GR so don't expect to see the Einstein equations or tensors (there isn't a single one).

    It took me a month to read the book and do all the exercises which I found easy most of the time since they come with pretty detailed instructions how to solve them. You will need to know a little special relativity and calculus so it is completely within the reach of an undergrad.

    The Schwartzschild metric is stated without derivation. Then you are introduced to 3 different observers around the black hole and their measurements. You will use a variational principle called in the book 'Principle of extremal aging', to derive the orbits of bodies and light rays around the black hole and constants of motion like energy and angular momentum. The radial motion is tackled through 'effective potential', the angular motion through the angular momentum.

    At the end of the book you will begin to understand how to tackle a general metric: how to interpret its coordinates in terms of measurements performed by different observers, how the constants of motions are connected to symmetries in the metric, how to get the constants of motion with the variational principle and so on...

    Besides all that, you will learn a bunch of wonderfull facts about black holes that will make you a star at a nerd's party :) Can you cross the horizon and what is seen by different observers, the time from the moment your body feels uncomfortable till the moment you reach the center of the black hole, how the night sky looks close to the black hole and so on.

    Some of the projects in the book calculate the hystorical experimental proofs of GR: bending of light near sun, precession of mercury's orbit and so on. The projects contain queries that you have to fill in reading the text. The solutions of these are usually shorter than the questions themselves :)

    My only objection is that sometimes the book makes statements without justification. For example, it is enogh to say that the principle of extremal aging like every principle is a statement in agreement with the experiment that can't be proven, we just know it works but don't know why. Instead of explaining that, the book states the principle several times wasting paper to my opinion and you still don't understand where that principle comes from. Repeating statements without proper explanation is equivalent to brain-washing and just makes the text unnecessary bulky and inefficient.


    For sins like that I gave it 4/5. Keep in mind I am a pretty demanding reader and I give 5/5 only to masterpieces like some books of David Griffiths where you can see the authour applied great effort to streamline the logic and clearly justify it to the reader.

    4-0 out of 5 stars well worth it
    this is a nice book that allows one to approach general realtivity with somewhat rusty math. One should read the special relativty book by the same authors first though.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific - but not easy
    As other reviewers have said, Taylor and Wheeler accomplish something marvelous (and by conventional wisdom impossible), making a non-trivial portion of general relativity accessible to physics undergraduates.But be warned that "accessible" does not mean easy!A good background in special relativity is essential, for example from the authors' earlier book Spacetime Physics.Beyond that, readers must be prepared for convoluted reasoning and heavy duty algebra in some parts of the book, covering the more esoteric optical effects of black holes and the effects of rotation.It was an effort for me to get through this book - but well worth it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 020138423X
    Sales Rank: 155255
    Subjects:  1. Aeronautics & Astronautics    2. Astrophysics & Space Science    3. Black Holes    4. Black holes (Astronomy)    5. General Relativity Theory    6. General relativity (Physics)    7. Physics    8. Relativity    9. Science    10. Science/Mathematics    11. Science / Astronomy   


    $32.55

    The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals
    by S. Conway Morris, Simon Conway Morris
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 May, 1998)
    list price: $30.00
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    Editorial Review

    The Burgess Shale deposits, in western Canada, have joined the Galapagos Islands as a destination of choice for vacationing scientists and fans of evolutionary theory. The fame of these places is in part due to the unique flora and fauna (living or dead) they boast, and in part to the scientists who have described and attempted to explain them. Like Stephen J. Gould'sWonderful Life, this book from Simon Conway Morris, original describer of the fascinating, troubling fossil Hallucigenia, gives an account of the Burgess Shale and the scientists who argue over the tiny remains of once-living creatures. Conway Morris calls the place "the most wonderful fossil deposit in the world," and his emotion is contagious. Beyond describing the creatures that formed the fossils, he speculates about how the Burgess Shale fits in to the story of human evolution. ... Read more

    Reviews (20)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Superb study on the Burgess Shale
    Morris, one of two contemporary specialists on the Burgess Shale, has produced an exceedingly well-written survey of the Burgess shale fauna and their meaning for evolutionary biology. The book is loaded with scores of B/W photos, 4 color drawings, a 13-page glossary of terms for the uninitiated, an imaginative underwater excursis with time-travelling paleontologists to the middle Cambrian, and a chapter on developmental evolutionary genetics (wherein he argues that many Burgess forms *are* related to contemporary forms).Stephen Jay Gould's view of the significance of the Burgess Shale is that the bizarre life-forms seen then demonstrate the historical contingency of evolution--rewind the tape and let it play out again, and things would turn out differently (a la Jimmy Stewart's "Wonderful Life").Morris's thesis is that Gould's tape-player metaphor is misleading, overemphasizing contingency at the cost of ignoring the powerful role played by ecology . One need only consider the evolution of convergent traits in insular life-forms (e.g., Australian marsupial cat-like predators) to get the point.(I should point out that I am suspicious of monolithic theories from either pole of the necessity-chance spectrum.)I find it unfortunate that Gould never discussed Bradley Efron's Bootstrap, a technique used widely in evolutionary and population genetics, or cellular automata, a la Stuart Kauffman, which give rise to the same recurrent patterns with astonishing regularity.)Morris is an adaptationist senstive to the power of ecology to shape evolution, who sees Burgess forms not as deviant freaks that accidentally went extinct but as ancestral to contemporary animals.As usual, there is likely to be truth to both positions; indeed, in some ways, their different views turn on different understandings of probability.For anyone with more than a passing interest in evolutionary biology and paleontology, who finds Gould's incessant digressions distracting, or wonders about the hypertrophy of contingency, this book should not be missed.

    2-0 out of 5 stars FromaReader in Sanibel Island Florida
    I started this book with high hopes but found it consistently disappointing and annoying. He comtinually comes up with sentences that are so imprecise as to be meaningless. For example (page 205) ' It is my opinion that human history can make no sense unless evil doings are recognized for what they are, and that they are bearable only if somehow they may be redeemed'

    Then in debating convergence he argues that whales are inevitable in the sense that life will inevitably produce a 'fast ocean going animal that sieves sea water for food' True, but it is surely not logical to deduce from that the inevitability of homo sapiens. One could argue the inevitability of 'something like an ape' ie 4 limbs, 2 for standing 2 for grasping, upright stance, omnivore etc. Sure, but not such a specific and unusual creature as man. Especially recognising that the features which give us uniqueness have emerged so recently in geological time. Surely something so inevitable and important would not have waited three and a half million years just to enjoy 50,000 years of existence.

    The key characteristics of man in this context are intelligence and consciousness. If it is argued that convergence inevitably leads to the emergence of man (with these characteristics) then why do they not emerge (with similar inevitably) in some or all of the other phylla. Having heard his arguments I am afraid I side with Gould on this particular topic ie we could have lots of re-runs but still not lead to that fortunate (or unfortunate!) outcome labeled 'homo sapiens'.

    3-0 out of 5 stars interesting but misses the point
    In a very interesting book, on a fascinating and inspiring topic, one of the key figures is making his ideas public, and does not convince.
    Simon Conway Morris tries to undermine or oppose the views of S.J. Gould, and while he might scientifically be the most likely person to succeed in such a feat, he utterly fails to do so.
    Conway Morris is very hostile to the views presented in Gould's "wonderful life", which were largely based upon his OWN earlier view, and does little justice to the man who brought him under the public (although by no means scientific, a task in which he succeeded extremely well on his own merit) spotlights.
    Conway Morris's arguments are based upon 3 major arguments: that of convergence, that ofcladistics, and that of disparity.
    The first one is undoubtedly true, but trivial. Convergence can and will occur, but as it can be brought up by taxa belonging to extant groups, it has no bearing on the shape of the tree of life. Gould made no claim that ecological niches will not be filled - just that they will be filled later in evolution by more closely related taxa.
    The second argument is irrelevant and misleading. Again, Gould does not claim all the Burgess shale's weird wonders arose separately - quite on the contrary, but he does claim they arose early on the tree of life. Every life form can be fitted on a dendrogram, so the fact you can put Opabinia and Sidenyia on the same tree, is irrelevant to the argument presented.
    So we are basically left with the third argument. Throughout the book Conway Morris is claiming to have refuted the arguments of "Wonderful life", and as his own arguments are weak you are constantly waiting for him to pull the smoking gun. This appears not before about 15 pages from the end, and one is startled to see all of Conway Morris's argument relies on just one study - Foote's 1990 study of disparity in Burgess-shale and later trilobites. The conclusions arising from this analysis are in no way the clear cut evidence Conway Morris wants them to be: the debate is on between scientists as to their validity and implications, and more importantly - they do not even directly bear on the question of disparity between HIGHER taxonomic units (e.g. Phyla): the major issue at hand.
    Thus Conway Morris's book fails to convince. It does however a fascinating story, and the most updated one today, of the wonderful story about animal origins. Conway Morris is modest in his claims to knowledge, and fully acknowledges what he don't know, or not sure of (this goes to facts, not arguments) and noble in his efforts to relate his story to recent conservation issues. All in all I'd read his book for the most updated info on the animals, and "Wonderful life" for the best philosophy of science ... Read more

    Isbn: 0198502567
    Subjects:  1. British Columbia    2. Cambrian    3. Fossils    4. Invertebrate Paleontology    5. Invertebrates, Fossil    6. Nature/Ecology    7. Paleontology    8. Science    9. Yoho National Park   


    Handbook of Particle Physics
    by M. K. Sundaresan, Monsur K. Sundaresan
    Hardcover (26 April, 2001)
    list price: $64.95 -- our price: $64.95
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    Isbn: 0849302153
    Sales Rank: 908791
    Subjects:  1. Handbooks, manuals, etc    2. Nuclear Physics    3. Particle Physics    4. Particles (Nuclear physics)    5. Physics    6. Reference    7. Science    8. Science/Mathematics   


    $64.95

    Spacetime Physics
    by Edwin F. Taylor, John Archibald Wheeler
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 March, 1992)
    list price: $53.95 -- our price: $53.95
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    Reviews (26)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Relativity in plain English
    If you want a phisically meaningful idea of the theory of relativity focused on invariants and fundamental principles
    that keep up holdingin the "new theory"(e.g. the principle of momentum conservation) this is a great book.

    If you want really to study hard this subject after this book you could buy "Gravitation" by the same authors (+ thorpe)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Only Book
    If you want easy to grasp concepts and math for Special Theory of Relativity this is the only book.I have been out of college for 20 years (now a surgeon) and for some odd reason wanted to learn relativity again.This is a great book...wish I had it in college. Spacetime Physics simplifies and elucidates concepts I never really grasped in college.Just wish someone would write a book on General Theory in a simuliar vein.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
    I found the narrative style to be more confusing than clarifying. Also, some of the exercises were very difficult to work out and the text was not helpful as a resource.

    This book should not be purchased unless you are taking a course in SR. It purports to be written for the non-physicist, but I can't imagine my mother understanding it at all, regarless of her level of interest. If you are taking a course, the paradoxes are challenging and interesting. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0716723271
    Sales Rank: 91977
    Subjects:  1. Relativity    2. Science    3. Science/Mathematics    4. Special Relativity Theory    5. Special relativity (Physics)    6. Science / Physics   


    $53.95

    Gravitation (Physics Series)
    by Kip S. Thorne, Charles W. Misner, John Archibald Wheeler, Kip Thorne, John Wheeler
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 September, 1973)
    list price: $108.95 -- our price: $107.95
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    Reviews (32)

    4-0 out of 5 stars good reference for advanced, NOT A LOGICAL INTRO to GR

    This book is known as the 'bible' of General Relativity or 'MTW'.

    People with different preparation will perceive MTW in different ways:

    The beginners in GR very often will feel that the book is a good reference and shows 'properties' of the defined objects instead of explaining the logical necessity of demanding such properties. My first course in GR was based on that book and although I learned some 'index gymnastics' from it, very often I had questions of the type 'where does this come from, why is it defined this way'. Often I would read about something like 'affine parameter' and I would not understand its importance at all.

    For beginners I recommend the books from J.Hartle, B. Schutz, and S. Carroll in order of increasing abstraction. I am currently in the middle of course based on the Carroll's book and I understand things I have never ever been able to understand from the 'bible' like the fact that we may define different connections but only one of them is metric compatible and we CHOOSE to work with it, or that we CHOOSE to work with a torsion free connection, or that reparametrizing a geodesic may not give you back a geodesic (in relation to the affine parameter remark above) ... Such facts are either not clearly spelled in the 'bible' or they are digged in somewhere 300 pages away ...

    Once you are past your first (or better second) course in GR, that book will be an invaluable reference for you with plenty of examples how to apply different computational and theoretical techniques in GR.

    The reviewers that give it high rating are obviously either experienced in the field or are begginners that value a book only because of the well-known authours.

    The book is really a titanic effort to compile all relevant pieces of info into one thick volume BUT PLEASE PLEASE think carefully before you recommend it for INTRODUCTION to General Relativity !!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gravity Defying
    After reading this text, I became thoroughly competent in General Relativity as well as the requisite elegent mathematical tools needed to fully understand this truly beautiful subject.Moreover, I have since gone further in this field with my own self-discovery.In particular, in my search for a unified quantum field theory of gravity, I have discovered that a new field emerges out of the space-time energy manifold, which gives rise to a gravity-induced collpase of the wave function of a system.This emergent field is self-referential and emergent and is the basis of consciousness.Upon fully realizing the implications of this newly discovered theory, I knew that I should be able to locally vary the space-time energy manifold around me by mere thought alone.Indeed I did this on the night of November 14, 2004 and levitated a good meter off the ground for at least a full minute before my stupid girlfriend came into the room and shouted "Devil!You're a devil!" and fled in horror.My concentration was instantly broken and I fell to the ground, spraining my ankle in the process.Damn gravity!And come to think of it, this is all the fault of Wheeler, Misner, and that Californian hippie dude guy, Kip Thorn.Stupid gravity book!Yeah, it's brilliantly written and a fascinating subject.But now I have a sprained ankle and my girlfriend left me and won't talk to me.I just might sue all these authors for pain and suffering.All my girlfriend does now is send me some religious tracks and tells me that she and her prayer group partners are praying for me.I keep telling them this isn't supernatural and that it is all science, but they hold up and cross their fingers at me in the makeshift form of a crucifix and quote bible verses at me.Stupid bible-quoting prayer group groupies!I'm not sure but I think they are a cult maybe.So no girlfriend now.I just might sue for emotional damages too!Anyway, I give this book five-stars if you too want to learn all about gravity.But be warned!You might start levitating one night, your girlfriend might get all freaked out, and then you fall to the ground and crash, both literally and figuratively, and just end up lonely and angry and everything.But you'll still be a master of GR and hey who needs that no good, easily scared, verse quoting girlfriend anyway?!Oh, I didn't mean that.Really Karen, if you're reading this, please baby, come back.I promise no more "devil flying tricks."OK?Oh yeah, this is definitely a great book--and probably won't really ruin your life.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Authoritative but a little patronizing
    Resorting to the metaphor of "bongs of a bell" to describe differential forms and "machines" to introduce the notion of tensors is a little insulting to capable undergraduate physics students.This is one of the most overhyped and overrated textbooks I've ever used.

    Physics and math students: Brush up on your vector calculus and classical mechanics and start with Shutz's "A First Course in General Relativity".If you've had some general relativity already, head for Wald's "General Relativity". ... Read more

    Isbn: 0716703440
    Sales Rank: 157144
    Subjects:  1. Astrophysics    2. Astrophysics & Space Science    3. General relativity (Physics)    4. Gravitation    5. Gravity    6. Physics    7. Relativity (Physics)    8. Science    9. Science/Mathematics    10. Science / Physics   


    $107.95

    Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times (vol. 2)
    by Morris Kline
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 January, 1990)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $19.95
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    Reviews (4)

    2-0 out of 5 stars disappointing
    Morris Kline's "history" is a disappointment. I have no doubt that Kline knows his mathematics, but he either does not know his history, or prefers to distort it so that it fits into his preconception of that history. To furnish an example: on page 181 Kline writes "In 529...Justinian closed all the Greek schools of philosophy...Greek scholars left the country and some for example, Simplicius - settled in Persia."(!) What Kline omits is that after a very short stay in Ctesiphon, Simplicius (and the other philosophers) returned to Greece. This is known from the Byzantine historian, Agathias',"Histories": "Priscianus of Lydia's Solution ad Chrosroem", (Chrosroes being the Persian king) which recounts a philosophical debate in Persia. Further, Justinian did not close centres of Greek thinking, but specifically those that were pagan; Alexandria's academy, it must be remembered, remained open as it was led by Simplicius' adversary the Christian Philoponus. The allusion by Kline that the Greek mathematical past was rejected is even more bewildering when the building of the Agia Sophia (built during Justinian's reign) is considered. This building was designed by 2 classically trained mathematicians (Athemius of Tralles & Isodore of Miletus) using the mathematical principles of antiquity which were still extant, known and in use (in the Greek east)!

    On p. 197 Kline writes "The significant contribution to mathematics that we owe to the Arabs was to absorb Greek and Hindu mathematics [and] preserve it." Amazingly, his main reference for this chapter is O'Leary's "How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs". O'Leary makes it incontrovertibly clear that the "translations" of various Greek mathematical & scientific works paraphrased into Arabic came directly from Byzantium. Byzantium does not get a mention in Kline's book until later. It was not the Arabs who preserved Greek material, but the Greeks themselves! Further, his claims on Christian denunciation of pagan thinking might be true in the Roman Latin west, but in the Greek Byzantine east, Greek past achievements were a source of pride! (Anna Comnena's "Alexiad" is a good indication of the "pagan" aspects of Byzantine civilization. References to Homer alone - out of all other "pagan" authors - outnumber all biblical references.). In the Greek east, as a counter-point to the Latin west, St Basil decreed in his "Discourse to Christian Youth on the study of the Greek Classics", that "pagan" literature should be referenced as an aid to understanding scriptures. This text justified studies of the "pagan" past in Byzantium and proved invaluable when the Italians "discovered" it during the renaissance (this "discovery" was made by Leonardo Bruni in the 15th century).

    On p.206 Kline, does not even seem to realise that Greece & Byzantium are part of Europe... Or rather, it is inconvenient for him to mention this without having to reorganise his premise... And so, on that page, he writes "...since the Arabs did have almost all the Greek works, the Europeans acquired a tremendous literature." The problem here is that the Arabs only ever paraphrased Greek technical manuals - not literature; Homer, Hesiod,Greek historians (eg Plutarch, Herodotus, Thucycides, etc) Greek playwrights (eg Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, etc), were totally unknown to Arabs. What is even worse, in O'Leary's book (which to reiterate is one of Kline's references), O'Leary wrote "...the Greek writers who influence the oriental world were not the poets or historians, or orators, but exclusively the scientists..." p. 1.

    Of equal interest is what Kline writes on pp. 189-190: "About the year 1200 scientific activity in India declined and progress in mathematics ceased."If the reader were to read another book, one on art for instance, "Hindu Art and Architecture" (George Michell, Thames & Hudson), they would read:
    "At the very end of the twelfth century northern India was overwhelmed by Muslim invaders...virtually all temple building came to a halt..." One wonders why the destroyers of Hindu mathematics are given credit for the preservation of this mathematics?

    This book would have been a great introduction had Kline not had an obvious agenda.

    I would recommend any of the following books (although they require a bit more reading):
    1/ Otto Neugebauer "The Exact Sciences in Antiquity";
    2/ Thomas Little Heath (his histories of Greek mathematicians/mathematics);
    3/O'Leary's "How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs";and
    4/ Jacob Klein's "Greek mathematical thought and the origin of algebra"
    as better introductions to this period of mathematical thought.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a fine series at a good price
    my history of mathematics teacher at UGA has called this a definitive work.I ordered it as a supplement to the class... and from my reading of it, I can put my stamp of approval on it.It's good--mathematical but also historical; If it's not as delicious prose-wise as most history we have to forgive him.Those are not easy fields to try to shuttle between.
    I will say that you should not expect a deep treatment of the math.If you are interested in something like 'the ontological evolution of the western idea of number' this is not a good place to look; if you want to watch calculus fall with a thud out of the churning events of the seventeenth century, practically pristine, then Kline will take you there and the ride is smooth and scenic.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very thorough
    As one might expect from a 3-volume history, _Mathematical Thought_ is comprehensive; Kline covers basically all the important mathematical developments from ancient times (e.g. the Babylonians) until about 1930.Note that (as Klein himself mentions) the coverage of ancient mathematics, while taking up a good half of the first volume, is necessarily modest, and if that is the reader's primary interest, s/he would do best to seek out specific histories on the Greeks, Chinese, etc. [Kline gives several useful references, as always].

    The reader interested in the 18th and 19th centuries will find plenty of food for thought.For example, the story of non-Euclidean geometry is covered well, and Kline does a good job of putting the discoveries in the light of the times.One notable thing I learned is that Lobachevsky and Bolyai were not the discoverers of non-Euclidean geometry, nor were they the first to publish material on that subject.Others before had expressed the opinion that non-Euclidean gometry was consistent and as viable a geometry as Euclidean (e.g. Kluegel, Lambert...even Gauss!)It remained for Beltrami to later show that if Euclidean geometry were consistent, so is non-Euclidean.Of course, important events like the invention of Galois theory are also mentioned.Really, if it's a major mathematical development before 1930, Kline will have it somewhere in these 3-volumes.

    Incidentally, Kline advances the interesting theory that Lobachevsky and Bolyai somehow learned of Gauss' work on non-Euclidean geometry (which he kept secret and was not learned of until after his death) through close friends of Gauss: Bartel (mentor to Lobachevsky) and Bolyai's father, Farkas.[I understand that this theory has been shown false by recent research into Gauss' correspondence]Kline is careful to indicate it is only speculation by phrasing words carefully, e.g. "might have..." and "perhaps he..."I can appreciate Kline's various speculations and opinions, usually they are very interesting, and (at least in these volumes) he always does a good job of highlighting where the account of history ends and his ideas begins.Even so, luckily for those who like unbiased historical accounts, he inserts himself into the text rarely.This may surprise readers who have read his other books, like _Mathematics: the Loss of Certainty_.This history is a scholarly work, although one can't really say that about his other works.

    Kline also writes quite a bit about the development of the calculus, as one should expect, given its major role in forming modern mathematics.I got a much deeper appreciation of calculus from reading various sections, which explained how this or that area was influenced or invented because of certain calculus problems.

    I debated about giving this book 4 stars since there are a few minor flaws.One I've mentioned above; I think Kline should have kept his voice objective, instead of occasionally going into a little diatribe on his pet peeves.This is minor, since he doesn't do it too often, and I suppose he can be excused for being human.Another is that the index is rather weak.For a work of this magnitude, one expects that one ought to be able to find the phrase "hyperbolic geometry" in the index.Surprisingly one doesn't."Non-Euclidean geometry" is there, but not the other phrase, which is synonymous and more common nowadays.There are other examples, but this is the one that comes to mind now.

    Finally, I should add that I have not read every page of this history nor am I even close to doing that.I have read parts of all three volumes, and the quality seems consistent.That said, this is not a history one should read straight through.It is meticulous and well-documented, which can make for rather dry reading, so I suggest you do plenty of skipping around.I found (and will probably still find) Kline useful for helping me understand the context of the various mathematical concepts I was studying.Not only that, but I found his explanations of some topics to be even better than those in standard textbooks.Because of the insights I've gained, I've decided to overlook the little flaws, so...five stars! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195061365
    Sales Rank: 315951
    Subjects:  1. Foundations Of Mathematics    2. History    3. History & Philosophy    4. Mathematics    5. Science/Mathematics    6. History of science   


    $19.95

    Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell
    by A. Zee
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (10 March, 2003)
    list price: $49.50 -- our price: $42.56
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    Reviews (28)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fresh picture of subject and environment
    A general rule about science books states that
    Comprehension*Rigor >= Background of the reader (all 2 Pi factors dropped)
    where by "comprehension" you can mean both "ability to be understood" and "amplitude of included subjects". The latter has the unfortunate feature that lhs terms do not depend on reader's characteristics while the rhs one does, but, for all practical purposes it works.A book about the subject randomly chosen is likely to have such a factor far above the equality, but this one seems to be quite close.
    However, that does not mean it is popular science: its ideal target are Physics students with at least a knowledge of "classical" (i.e. non relativistic) quantum mechanics and its main applications in electromagnetic fields.
    I would have appreciated more material about experiments (after all, my university course stretches from 1979, when Glashow, Salam and Weinberg were awarded with the Nobel prize for their theory of electroweak interaction, and 1984, when Rubbia and van der Meer got it for the observation of intermediate vector boson), but I have to acknowledge that there was hardly any room left for such references, unless publishing a very heavy book, taking also into account the search for an equilibrium between educational issues and an updated sight.
    Besides, the way environmental knowledge has been reproduced, with all notation misuse and omissions of non-significant terms or methods, represents a fresh and fashionable picture of current teaching (and learning) physics, at least about the subjects I remember (I have not studied, and I do not know, unless for popular papers, string theory, maybe present days students argue about that with habits unknown to me). I wish I had the book as a student.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Quantum Field Theory for Dummies
    Finally, an understandable book on QFT for average folks. Prof. Zee develops the subject using Feynman's propagator approach, which to me is the most aesthetically and intuitive way to crack this otherwise impenetrable nutshell.After the first 60 pages or so you should have a pretty firm grasp on the mathematics and the underlying physical concepts. However, having armed the reader with the bare minimum of mathematical and physical tools, Zee then dives into some fairly daunting territory without providing the requisite aids. His treatment of Grassman algebra is minimal (which is too bad, because it underlies fermionic QFT), and his explanation of renormalization is altogether inadequate. Zee then ventures into more advanced areas which, in my opinion, are clearly beyond the scope of the book's "nutshell" approach (this is the primary reason why the text exceeds 500 pages). In spite of these shortcomings, however, Zee's book fully succeeds in its aim to explain a complicated topic to those of us who learned ordinary quantum mechanics without too much difficulty, but then got slammed into a wall when we turned to QFT.My recommendation to beginners would be to read this book and then get Lewis H. Ryder's QFT book to further cement your understanding of what is undoubtedly a profoundly beautiful, if difficult, subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A very gentle QFT book
    The first chapter of this book is great. Chapter one does a great job of explaining the necessary tools of bosonic field theory like gaussian integrals and Wick contractions. Then, after a couple distracting (but interesting) sections on gravity and whatnot, Zee moves on to computing Feynman diagrams for phi^4 theory.

    I think the easy-going style of this book is nice, but I wish it went into more detail in some cases. Zee seems to have a unique understanding of field theory and a gift for explaining it. So, I wish he would have written more about renormailization. I felt that chapter was far to short.

    As a reference, I think that P&S is better

    One major "pro" for this book is that Zee has encluded an Appendix with solutions to some of the problems. The solutions are a useful tool for self-study.

    All in all, it is a 4 star book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0691010196
    Sales Rank: 15933
    Subjects:  1. Physics    2. Quantum Theory    3. Quantum field theory    4. Science    5. Science/Mathematics    6. Science / Quantum Theory   


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