The Shaggy Steed of Physics: Mathematical Beauty in the Physical World / Edition 1

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The underlying unity of nature is examined through this book's demonstration that the same principles (for example, symmetry and instability) are at work at all levels, from the subatomic to the astronomical. A spirited companion to standard books on classical and quantum mechanics, The Shaggy Steed of Physics breathes new life into the equations of physics.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews of the second edition:

"In the present book, the shaggy steed of physics is the two-body problem, a problem that guides the reader through an interesting tour of the mathematical beauty hidden in the physical world. Actually, the author takes an approach which is opposite to that usually taken by the physicist who often marvels at the physical beauty hidden in the mathematical world. This reverse approach makes the reading of this book both interesting and illuminating for the professional physicist or chemist." (Fernande Grandjean and Gary J. Long, Physicalia Vol. 57 (3), 2005)

"The book celebrates an unassuming bit of physics that also turns out to be an inspiring teacher. The two-body problem - the motion of two bodies bound by the inverse-square force of gravity and electricity - is the Shaggy Steed of Physics, guiding the reader to an understanding of both the forces and the mathematical beauty hidden in the physical world. … The second edition preserves the spirit of the original while deepening key topics." (Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik, January, 2005)

"This is the second edition of a very interesting little book first published in 1994. The author writes with considerable conviction, passion, and clarity on the topic of mechanics as the one major unifying theme … . Overall, I regard this to be an excellent book, especially important for those in the community who would like to understand the big picture, the connections and the similarities between the major physical theories which describe our universe … ." (J M Hill, The Physicist, Vol. 41 (5), September/October, 2004)

"Oliver’s new edition … of his intellectual history of mechanics and the transition from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics enhances the first edition in several areas. … Oliver writes elegantly, almost to the point of being flowery. … One delightful feature not often found in works of this type is the inclusion of an appendix that contains brief technical biographies and portraits of the major contributors to the topic … . Summing up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students; professionals." (A. Spero, CHOICE, June, 2004)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387941639
  • Publisher: Springer-Verlag New York, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1 The Shaggy Steed of Physics 1
2 The Heavens and the Elements 7
3 The Law of Motion 21
4 Classical Mechanics: The Heavens 85
5 Quantum Mechanics: The Elements 137
6 The Hidden Unity of Space and Time 189
7 The Manifold Universe 213
People 241
Notes 257
Index 295
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