Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Physics

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The conceptual changes brought by modern physics are important, radical and fascinating, yet they are only vaguely understood by people working outside the field. Exploring the four pillars of modern physics – relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles and cosmology – this clear and lively account will interest anyone who has wondered what Einstein, Bohr, Schrödinger and Heisenberg were really talking about. The book discusses quarks and leptons, antiparticles and Feynman diagrams, curved space-time, the Big Bang and the expanding Universe. Suitable for undergraduate students in non-science as well as science subjects, it uses problems and worked examples to help readers develop an understanding of what recent advances in physics actually mean.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nonspecialists and nonscientists curious about such topics as spacetime, the EPR paradox, chromodynamics, and the origins of matter will find this concise account a helpful introduction. He [Griffiths] reconnoiters relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, and cosmology. Worked examples and scattered problems serve to reinforce readers' comprehension."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107602175
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2012
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 348,266
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

David J. Griffiths is an Emeritus Professor of Physics at Reed College. He is the author of three highly-regarded physics textbooks: Introduction to Electrodynamics (third edition, Pearson, 1999), Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (second edition, Pearson, 2004) and Introduction to Elementary Particles (second edition, Wiley-VCH, 2008).
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Table of Contents

1. Classical foundations; 2. Special relativity; 3. Quantum mechanics; 4. Elementary particles; 5. Cosmology.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    For generations, physics textbooks written by David Griffiths ha

    For generations, physics textbooks written by David Griffiths have been considered the gold standard of undergraduate physics curriculum. Granted, they have their fair share of detractors and may not be after everyone’s liking, but as far as I am concerned they are some of the best science textbooks around. (I consider his Quantum Mechanics textbook the best Physics textbook, period.) Unfortunately, these textbooks are geared towards the Physics upperclassmen, and for the most part have remained inaccessible to anyone else who would be interested in these topics and doesn’t want to take up all of upper level Physics classes. “Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Physics” is a short Physics textbook that is aimed precisely at those kinds of people. It is a book that should in principle be accessible to anyone who has taken a year or so worth of freshman Physics. 

    There is no doubt that Griffiths is a great educator. His care in presenting clear and contained arguments is evident from each page of this book. (I had a friend who took collage classes from him, and was really impressed with the whole experience.) Griffiths clearly believes that the best, and perhaps, the only way to understand Physics is to actually “do” it, and this book is filled with many worked out example, exercises and problems. If you are not comfortable working through Physics problems, then this book is definitely not for you. All of the problems and exercises are non-calculus based, and should be accessible to a wide audience. A lot of the material in this book is directly “borrowed” from his three textbooks (“Electricity and Magnetism, “Quantum Mechanics,” and “Elementary Particles”), but a substantial amount is also completely new. This is particularly the case with the introductory chapter and the final one on cosmology. 

    I’ve taught a one-semester course on “Modern Physics” for many years, and although that is one of my favorite classes to teach, the material leaves a lot to be desired. I am not a big fan of any single textbook out there that is available right now, and “Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Physics” could be a great basis for a much more clear and well-rounded textbook of that type. Addition of a few topics, as well as some rudimentary calculus-based exposition and problems, could easily turn this into a very comprehensive one textbook for a semester long class. 

    I do wish that instead of cosmology, the last chapter in this book dealt with General Theory of Relativity. What constitutes a proper “revolution” in Physics is certainly debatable, but General Relativity has for almost a century been considered one of the most profound conceptual achievements of all time, as well as, in minds of many Physicists the most “beautiful” physical theory. A self-contained chapter on this topic in its own right would have made this book even more valuable. 

    Unfortunately, one of this book’s biggest strengths is also its most prominent weakness. By making this into a textbook, Griffiths will still mainly reach a very small segment of people who are interested in modern Physics. One of the things that I always liked about Griffiths’ textbooks was all the non-mathematical explanations and insights that he was so good at making. I was hoping that this would be a book in which he distilled many of those insights and presented them to a truly general audience. A book like that, one that truly focuses on the real conceptual insights and advances of the twentieth century Physics instead of providing all the unsubstantiated musings and high-strung speculations, would be invaluable to those who really want to know what we really know about Physics. It could also be an inspiration to those of us who want to build upon that foundation and finally reach for the next frontier of the understanding of the Universe at its most fundamental level. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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