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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non mathematician review
I like to TRY to understand QED and related issues from the 70-80s. before strings tangled things up. THe stories of the main people, with their lives and work in chronological order is explained well in this book. (essepecially where they cross-over and meet at conferences) . Equations appear in the stories at the point where they were thought up by these people...
Published on 10 Dec 2010 by Mr. M. Macrae

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very technical but very precise scientific biographies.
If you're looking for a pop. science explanation of Q.E.D this is certainly not for you.As an historian of science Schweber cannot be faulted.He gives proper reference to every paper/book he cites or quote he uses,he doesn't often rely on second-hand stories in the biographical sections (and when he does he makes clear that he's doing so)and has a good opening section...
Published on 6 Sep 2000


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very technical but very precise scientific biographies., 6 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga (Princeton Series in Physics) (Paperback)
If you're looking for a pop. science explanation of Q.E.D this is certainly not for you.As an historian of science Schweber cannot be faulted.He gives proper reference to every paper/book he cites or quote he uses,he doesn't often rely on second-hand stories in the biographical sections (and when he does he makes clear that he's doing so)and has a good opening section on the fondations of the subject before Q.E.D.As mentioned earlier this is in no way a primer to the subject.Anyone not well versed in college level mathematics will gain next to nothing from the many pages of equations and derivations.The personal lives of those involved takes up less than half the(weighty)book so i would advise looking elsewhere for that aspect but their scientific accomplishments are nearly all there.I found it similar to A.Pais' "subtle is the lord" in that respect-the definitive SCIENTIFIC BIOGRAPHY of those involved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non mathematician review, 10 Dec 2010
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Mr. M. Macrae (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga (Princeton Series in Physics) (Paperback)
I like to TRY to understand QED and related issues from the 70-80s. before strings tangled things up. THe stories of the main people, with their lives and work in chronological order is explained well in this book. (essepecially where they cross-over and meet at conferences) . Equations appear in the stories at the point where they were thought up by these people. I could not follow them for very long in this book as I do not have the mathematical skill. Skipping these parts rather misses a lot for me. I highly recommend as this book is a real challenge and is NOT dumbed down like most 'popular science ' books . The reader can skip some math, but I recommend trying to read at lease some of it. I would admire any reader who understands most of it. As 'strings' are going nowhere, and LIE-8 groups are coming back, this gives a great pre-read on how mathematicians came to theories that could be verified the last time this happened in Physics.

Things like renomalization and guage theories would really need to be understood before diving into this book deeply. I end up with an understanding that QED et all. are a LOT more complicated than the 'popular scientist' books and protagonists would like to portray. Very good book. I am not good enough at maths to be able to spot errors etc.

AN explanation of the symbology of each section would have helped and get a wider audience.

Martin Macrae
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed ..., 19 Nov 2013
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This review is from: QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga (Princeton Series in Physics) (Paperback)
I just bought this book and am only part-way through Chapter 1 'The Birth of Quantum Field Theory', but I felt an early comment was appropriate to save other readers confusion, because of flaws in the mathematical presentation that should have been eliminated at the proof-reading stage.

The narrative makes excellent reading, providing good insight into the development of the theory. I particularly like the mini-biography of Dirac, with its illumination of Dirac's opinion of Bohr's views on Quantum Theory .... (p 17) In 1925 Bohr gave lectures at Cambridge which Dirac attended. Considering the possibility that Bohr's thoughts might have influenced Dirac's soon-to-be-published work on relativistic quantum mechanics, the author notes that Dirac's (1977) reaction to Bohr was mixed: "While I [Dirac] was very much impressed by [Bohr], his arguments were mainly of a qualitative nature, and I was not able to really pinpoint the facts behind them. What I wanted was statements which could be expressed in terms of equations, and Bohr's work very seldom provided such statements. I am not really sure how much my later work was influenced by these lectures of Bohr". Which, of course, is a polite way of saying the lectures had no influence on his later work at all.

Now I am sure that Schweber's book will be full of similar gems, so that I will enjoy it very much, but, unfortunately, the writing appears to be littered with transcription errors that render some of the mathematical equations meaningless. Given that the author is attempting to write a "Scientific" biography of these physicists and their work it is a great pity that more care was not taken in the technical proof reading!

The errors (so far) are caused by confusion of three characters that, when (poorly) handwritten, can be easily mistaken for each other, particularly if the person who was transcribing from Schweber's notes was not familiar with the normal conventions of physics notation. The characters are;
Lower case 'v' and the lower case Greek letters 'nu' and 'gamma'. The equations affected are on p 10 (for the average energy in a black-body radiation field, where 'volume v' and 'frequency nu' are confused) and on page 32 (for Dirac's prior derivation of the so-called Breit-Wigner distribution, where 'frequency nu' and 'spectral line-width gamma' are confused). There may be more that I have missed, of course.

I'll update this review when I have finished the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everything one wants to know on how our civilization succeeded ..., 22 July 2014
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I. S. PILIOUNIS (Athens, GREECE) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga (Princeton Series in Physics) (Paperback)
Everything one wants to know on how our civilization succeeded through science to interpret and master the laws of how nature exhibits herself to us. The scientific history of Quantum Electrodynamics from inside with every possible detail .
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