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String Theory Demystified [Paperback]

David Mcmahon
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2008 Demystified

UNRAVEL the mystery of STRING THEORY

Trying to understand string theory but ending up with your brain in knots? Here's your lifeline! This straightforward guide explains the fundamental principles behind this cutting-edge concept.

String Theory Demystified elucidates the goal of the theory--to combine general relativity and quantum theory into a single, unified framework. You'll learn about classical strings, conformal field theory, quantization, compactification, and T duality. The book covers supersymmetry and superstrings, D-branes, the holographic principle, and cosmology. Hundreds of examples and illustrations make it easy to understand the material, and end-of-chapter quizzes and a final exam help reinforce learning.

This fast and easy guide offers:

  • Numerous figures to illustrate key concepts
  • Sample problems with worked solutions
  • Coverage of equations of motion, the energy-momentum tensor, and conserved currents
  • A discussion of the Randall-Sundrum model
  • A time-saving approach to performing better on an exam or at work

Simple enough for a beginner, but challenging enough for an advanced student, String Theory Demystified is your key to comprehending this theory of everything.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional (1 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071498702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071498708
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 18.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

David McMahon has worked for several years as a physicist and researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. He is the author of Linear Algebra Demystified, Quantum Mechanics Demystified, Relativity Demystified, MATLAB Demystified, and Complex Variables Demystified, among other successful titles.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable 11 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback
As an introduction to the basics of string theory, this is not too bad. It handles the bosonic string well, and makes a decent stab at motivating supersymmetry. However, there are some flaws. First, it is full of typos, which is not good in an elementary book for beginners. Second, the crucial Virasoro algebra is skirted around rather than confronted head on. Now, I know this is quite a subtle piece of physics, but it is vital for determining which states are physical and setting the dimension of space-time in which the theory is consistent. Just pulling it out of a hat, as here, with no motivation will just not do.

World-sheet supersymmetry is quite well done (see above), though again the lack of a rigorous discussion of the super Virasoro algebra hampers understanding. The transition to space-time supersymmetry and manifest supersymmetry is bodged. Worse still, the crucial introduction of gauge fields and heterotic string theory is very weak and rather confusing.

Finally, the last few chapters (from that on the heterotic strong onward) are poor. I am thinking especially of the one on black holes where some genuinely exciting physics is marred by a sketchy approach. If explaining where all the formulae came from was considered beyond the scope of the book, perhaps this chapter should have been omitted.

On the whole, I'd recommend beginners with some familiarity with QM to read the book by Zwiebach.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doeswhat it says, if you have the background 6 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback
This book really eases you into the strange and difficult field of string theory, but only if you have the background, this is not a popular science book! The background is differentiation, integration, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, a little quantum field theory, and special and general relativity. the books i reccomend to get this background, if you dont have it, are:
1) Engineering mathematics, K.A Stroud (6th edition)
2) Advanced Engineering Mathematics, K.A Stroud (4th revised edition)
3) Mechanics series (1,2,3&4), Douglas Quadling
4) Quantum Mechanics Demystified, David McMahon
5) Quantum Field Theory Demystified, David McMahon
6) Relativity Demystified, David McMahon

Wit the nessecary background this text is perfect to lead to more advanced ones on the subject.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but full of minor errors and typos. 24 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback
As above really, a good introductory book on this complicated area of physics/mathematics but the final editing and quality control leaves a lot to be desired with many errors still in the final product. If you know a bit about university level mathematics and this area of research then you can spot the mistakes fairly easily but a newcomer to this topic may not spot these errors and subsequently may be misled.
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3.0 out of 5 stars String Theory 30 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good introduction to the mathematics of String Theory, but we warned this is not easy mathematics. A knowledge of Langrangian mechanics, quantum theory and quantum field theory is required to get the best out of this book.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A playful yet serious textbook on string theory 26 Nov 2008
By Lubos Motl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I actually love the book, its format, and its focus. Imagine that your task is to take Polchinski's textbook on String Theory and compress both volumes to 320 light pages or so.

You have to include some basics of GR, QFT, abstract classical mechanics but also the CFTs, bosonic strings, light cone gauge, T-duality, symmetries, RNS superstring, heterotic strings, D-branes, AdS/CFT, black holes. But you also add some material that was not yet fully covered in Polchinski's book such as tachyon condensation on D-branes and the speculative field of string cosmology, among others.

I think that if you realize your task well, you will end up with a book very similar to McMahon's book. As a kid or undergrad, I would actually love the playful format of the book, the icons and big headlines. In fact, I like it even now. It's the format that succeeds to attract the reader's attention and give him or her the (semi-realistic) feeling that the knowledge needed to fully master string theory is of encyclopedic character and "learnable" in a finite time.

Although the brevity of many explanations will clearly make it insufficient for all readers to understand the true origin of all results and steps, this is a book focusing on real, solid scientific arguments.

This is a simplified but technical, not popular, book that won't overwhelm you with postmodern philosophical babbling, trying to convince you that it can replace the calculations and lead you instantly to "big" conclusions without any hard work. It is a book that shows the actual correct calculations and derivations, albeit in a simplified form. Most importantly, the answers are pretty much universally correct, as far as I could check, and they uniformly cover the basic topics that are important for actual researchers in modern high-energy theoretical physics.

If you're a college student, high school student, or a mathematically skilled "semi-outsider" who is bright enough to learn advanced theoretical physics, please ignore the other reviewers who clearly have no idea what theoretical physics actually is, and buy this book. You may like it, too.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction, but not for everybody 5 July 2009
By R. Golan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
First of all, this book is not for everybody. It's not for the pop-science reader, it contains far too much mathematics to be of any use for him. It's not for the professional scientist seeking in-depth understanding either. If you are either type of reader, you're better off reading something else.

Every book has its readership target, and this book found one appreciative reader in this reviewer. I have a background in engineering, so I'm familiar with differential equations, complex analysis, quantum mechanics. I never took any postgrad physics, so given my interest in physics I've had to study tensor analysis, quantum field theory and general relativity on my own. After getting some exposure to those subjects, I felt I could tackle an introduction to strings, and thought this book would be a good way of quickly getting the broad concepts. I found the book easy enough to be readable, and challenging enough to learn something from. If you have a background similar to mine, you will love this book.

If you do have this sort of background, then you'll find it to be a very good summary of string theory. It will give you the broad concepts without skimping on the mathematics. It will prepare you for texts like Zwiebach and Polchinsky.

There are flaws in the book, however. There are still way too many typos in the book, and some of the examples are stepped through in steps that ought to be obvious to anyone at this level, while others are not explained in sufficient detail. The issue of typos seems to be an ongoing one with the Demystified series, but thankfully this particular book seems to suffer from fewer typos than some of the others.

Aside from that, this reviewer found it a very useful introduction to the subject, and would strongly recommend it to anyone in a similar situation. However, it may not be suited to pop-science readers or professionals.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Workman's Workbook and Editor's Delight 15 Mar 2011
By Jersey gardener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David McHahon does provide a simplified and straight forward overview of String Theory, but fails to make the physics lucid and inviting.
He does, however, take great pains to provide lots of worked examples.
This does help in gaining a proficiency in tackling String Theory and understanding its underlying concepts. It is, however, not a substitute
for a good textbook.
One problem that undermines the effectiveness of String Theory: in this and is a few of his other workbooks on physics and math, his solutions are riddled with typos.
He and his readers would be better served if his editor were more careful and demanding.
In short, a workbook worth having if you have enough confidence to trust in your own math and skills to overcome his editor's shortfalls.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars review string theory demystified 29 Jun 2009
By Mauro Rogerio Cosentino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is interesting. Very good for an overall view of the subject, but it has to be taken carefully, since if one wants to say that "knows" string theory, this book alone will not give that. But if you are from another field (e.g. experimental nuclear physics) just trying to understand what this theory is all about, then the book is perfect.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Starter 10 Nov 2013
By Mary Echternacht - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an easy and fun book to read,simplifies complex issues in understandable words, well written, for the novice level
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