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Theoretical and Mathematical Physics Basic Concepts of String Theory thoroughly prepare the reader for research in string theory at an intermediate level.
Table of contents

Mathematical Physics

Farmelo takes us on a tour through the history of the field. I suspect most physicists can remember the moment when, after a few algebraic tricks with currents and voltages, the speed of light appeared, as if by magic. From this, in an amazing conceptual and mathematically abetted leap, Einstein conjured up general relativity in , then the curvature of space-time, and eventually the gravitational waves discovered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory LIGO years later.

And in , Dirac, demanding mathematical consistency between quantum mechanics and special relativity, gave us both an understanding of the spin of the electron — without which the periodic table of the elements makes no sense — and predicted the existence of antimatter, discovered experimentally a few years later.

These are brilliant successes of the mathematical approach, and Farmelo leads us through them adeptly, with a mixture of contemporary accounts and scientific insight. He also casts a sceptical eye on the stories the players tell about themselves — and here the tensions start to be felt.

Dirac and Einstein were evangelists for mathematically led physics, but their pleas were more or less ignored by their younger colleagues, such as Richard Feynman and Steven Weinberg, who were developing the standard model of particle physics. Dirac and Einstein were hardly involved in those developments. However, the pace of progress probably had more to do with the rapid experimental advances of the time than with any intrinsic issue in the relationship between the two subjects. This was a fertile patch for experimentation, and theorists were continually buffeted by new and startling results, from the appearance of the muon to the observation of structure inside the proton; these demanded explanation.

We thought we were very smart and could do better on our own. Many on both sides of the divorce were content with the situation.

There has been a re-engagement since the s. But others, led by luminaries such as Michael Atiyah, Edward Witten and pioneers of string theory including Michael Green and John Schwarz, were probing its mathematical boundaries. Farmelo gives a lively description of the back-and-forth of contributions typical of any thriving interdisciplinary area, with physical problems stimulating mathematical breakthroughs and mathematics throwing up new insights and techniques in physics. Instead, he concentrates on developments more directly useful and testable in physics, where some of this mathematical sophistication begins to feed back into an understanding of the standard model.

The standard model is a complex, subtle and immensely successful theoretical structure that leaves significant questions unanswered. Farmelo makes a convincing case that, in attempting to answer those questions, mathematics has a crucial role. Yet whether theoretical physics has become too enamoured of beautiful mathematics will, I suspect, remain a topic of hot debate. The Universe might speak in numbers, but it uses empirical data to do so. As such it is not a compendium of results but intended as textbook in the sense that most of the material is organized in a pedagogical and self-contained fashion.

Beyond the basics, a number of more advanced topics are introduced, such as conformal field theory, superstrings and string dualities - the text does not cover applications to black hole physics and cosmology, nor strings theory at finite temperatures.

Specialty Grand Challenge ARTICLE

End-of-chapter references have been added to guide the reader wishing to pursue further studies or to start research in well-defined topics covered by this book. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. Ultracold Quantum Fields Henk T.

Add to basket. Essential Relativity Wolfgang Rindler. Quantum Measurement Paul Busch. Local Quantum Physics Rudolf Haag. General Relativity Norbert Straumann.

How to Learn Math and Physics

Quantum Relativity David R. Density Functional Theory Eberhard Engel. Operators, Geometry and Quanta Dmitri Fursaev. Schroedinger Operators H.

Nonequilibrium and Irreversibility Giovanni Gallavotti. Back cover copy The purpose of this book is to thoroughly prepare the reader for research in string theory. It is intended as a textbook in the sense that, starting from the basics, the material is presented in a pedagogical and self-contained fashion.

The emphasis is on the world-sheet perspective of closed strings and of open strings ending on D-branes, where two-dimensional conformal field theory is the main tool. Compactifications of string theory, with and without fluxes, and string dualities are also discussed from the space-time point of view, i. End-of-chapter references have been added to guide the reader intending to pursue further studies or to start research in the topics covered by this book. Table of contents The Classical Bosonic String. Review Text "This is an excellent book on strings with a discussion of confocal and nonconformal strings.

This book is primarily for advanced students with applications to advanced and intermediate studies.

A Theory with No Strings Attached: Can Beautiful Physics Be Wrong? [Excerpt] - Scientific American

Grenier, Amazon. It is totally suited for a course in string theory straddling the undergraduate and graduate level. The occasional mathematician with a physics inclination will also find the book accessible. The author presents the string theory in a very pedagogical way.

A Theory with No Strings Attached: Can Beautiful Physics Be Wrong? [Excerpt]

The book contains a lot of examples and problems and it is a easy reading. I recommend this book for instructors and students interested in understand the basic principles of string theory. This book will be very useful as a additional reading for more advanced courses in string theory too! Have fun!

Review quote "This is an excellent book on strings with a discussion of confocal and nonconformal strings.


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