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The Six Core Theories of Modern Physics (Bradford Books) [Paperback]

Charles F Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.95
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Book Description

30 Sep 1996 Bradford Books
Charles Stevens, a prominent neurobiologist who originally trained as a biophysicist (with George Uhlenbeck and Mark Kac), wrote this book almost by accident. Each summer he found himself reviewing key areas of physics that he had once known and understood well, for use in his present biological research. Since there was no book, he created his own set of notes, which formed the basis for this brief, clear, and self-contained summary of the basic theoretical structures of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical physics, special relativity, and quantum field theory.The Six Core Theories of Modern Physics can be used by advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students as a supplement to the standard texts or for an uncluttered, succinct review of the key areas. Professionals in such quantitative sciences as chemistry, engineering, computer science, applied mathematics, and biophysics who need to brush up on the essentials of a particular area will find most of the required background material, including the mathematics.

Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New edition edition (30 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262691884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262691888
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 394,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"The Six Core Theories of Modern Physics is a useful and amazinglycompact compendium of the central equations and concepts of modernphysics, treating broad areas while stressing their underlyingunity. It stands as an ideal summary of all that a beginninggraduate student should have learned, and that other scientistswith a physics background will want to recall." Dr. Daniel Gardner, Cornell University Medical College

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The purpose of this section is to record, rather than develop, some of the main results of vector analysis needed in the later chapters. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful book in many ways 22 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Having just completed my physics degree, I bought this book to provide a concise summary of the key ideas. Although it does not have chapters on topics such as nuclear, particle or optics for example, and it is not particularly complete, and somewhat basic in parts, it does give compact summaries of mechanics, E and M, Statistical, Quantum, Relativity and QFT. It should be noted that the E and M chapter uses Gaussian units and the Quantum chapter is the Feynman formulation (needed for QFT) which personally I found dissapointing. Despite not really being suitable for those covering the work for the first time, the Mechanics chapter does cover Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics rather well - better than the rather thick and heavy going dedicated books, and so worth buying for that part alone. Variational Calculus is covered in the first chapter which, like the rest of the book, is straight to the point. Overall this is a good book, and whatever you may have been hoping for, it is certainly good value for money in paperback.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very clear and uncluttered summaries 29 Oct 2004
By A Customer
I'm not a physicist; I write rendering and simulation programs for video games. My main interest in this book is that it does an excellent job of presenting all the concepts of maths and mechanics I always wanted but could never quite find in one place. Very clear and to the point. Like the author says, it's not enough on it's own, but does provide very valuable summaries that can then be fleshed out with more detailed information from other books (such as those listed as additional reading at the end), websites etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy if not downright wrong 23 Jan 2006
By Jonathan Birge - Published on
I bought this for half price from a used bookstore (they had several copies) so I should've been warned. Within a few pages of starting this book, in a section of vector algebra, the author states that all vectors in an orthonormal basis are eigenvectors of all unitary operators. That's a ludicrous statement that is trivially wrong. Being a bit afraid that I might be led astray when reading sections on material I didn't already know, I checked the web for other mentions of this book. The only website I found (besides the publishers) was one hosting a lengthy errata for the book, full of corrections to sloppy mistakes in this book. Warning number two. Here it is (you'll need it): 2001/core-theories-errata.pdf

I think the idea behind this book is great, and I haven't found anything yet as egregious as the mistatement about unitary transforms. But beware. This isn't a book by a physicist, and it shows.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Six Core or "hard" Core? 21 April 2001
By Barry R. Clarke - Published on
While it's pleasant having an overview of physics in one place I am unhappy with the lack of care in writing the text. For example, the section on functional calculus frequently changes notation during an explanation. Also, much more emphasis should have been placed on the fact that the differentiation of functionals produces functional DENSITY derivatives. However, with some effort, I DID succeed in understanding this section. Needs greater clarity of presentation, perhaps with more diagrams.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good concise overview of key physics, with derivations 21 April 2009
By Gregory W. Hammett - Published on
I have enjoyed reading this book, and it has helped refresh my memory and fill in some gaps in my physics knowledge. This book can be useful for beginning physics graduate students studying for qualifying exams, or for older physicists (like myself) who want to brush up on some topics. I haven't yet read the whole book, but the parts I've read are clearly written and have concise summaries of these fundamental theories, with derivations that are detailed enough for someone with a physics training to follow easily. This isn't a perfect book, but I admire the goal of trying to write a concise derivation of key results in modern physics, and it does well in several places. I have found several typos and minor errors, which are recorded for the benefit of others at

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great companion for learning QFT. 11 Jun 2003
By Ojvind J Bernander - Published on
I am self-studying QFT and have bought several of the standard textbooks -- they are all tough going.
Stevens's book helped me greatly in understanding the path-integral approach: the section on functional calculus was very well presented, then applied in the two chapters on quantum mechanics (QM) and quantum field theory (QFT). I especially liked the connection made with classical probability theory, something I haven't seen in my QFT books.
You will not learn QM from this book. In fact, with a QM-101 background, you may find the QM chapter hard to follow. However, if you have started to learn QFT, it should add value.
The other chapters were of less interest to me personally, but I thought they nicely reviewed their topics from a fresh viewpoint, in particular special relativity and thermodynamics.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great pocket book of physics 6 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on
This is a concise and elegant summary of the fundamentals of the six core theories of physics. It even includes a convenient math review. Although the author might have the "beginning graduate student" in mind, now at the end of my Ph.D. training in applied physics at Harvard, I still had a great time reading it!.
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