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Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics by [Schumm, Bruce A.]
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Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Review

A fascinating journey into the bizarre, subatomic world of particle physics.

(PhysOrg.com)

Quantum field theory, group theory, Lie algebras, internal symmetry spaces and gauge theory. [Schumm] does a remarkably good job of explaining all this, with a style that is mercifully plain.

(Peter de Groot New Scientist)

Explores the world of particle physics in terms laymen can understand.

(Santa Cruz Sentinel)

I expect that any physics undergraduate, bewildered by textbooks and lectures, would find this a delight.

(Stephen Battersby New Scientist)

One of several recently published books attempting to provide for interested nonphysicists a relatively nonmathematical account of what has come to be called the standard model of particle physics... Schumm's treatment is perhaps more detailed.

(Choice)

Bruce Schumm's new book on elementary particle physics, Deep Down Things, is an ambitious and very successful non-mathematical description of the nature and significance of the world of elementary particles and forces. The book is for the non-mathematician, the non-scientist interested in elementary particle physics, and the young student who has not yet begun to study physics. The subjects discussed range from the wave-particle duality and basic quantum mechanical ideas, through description of the four fundamental forces, to the inner theoretical world of particle physics―symmetries and gauge theory. The book ends with an exciting discussion of what we don't know including the recently discovered mystery of neutrino oscillations.

(Martin Perl, the 1995 Nobel Laureate in Physics)

The Standard Model is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of the twentieth century. Everything around us is made of particles called quarks and leptons influencing one another by exchanging bosons. Readers who want more than a surface treatment of this modern paradigm of particle physics should turn to Bruce Schumm's fine book on the topic.

(Michael Riordan, author, The Hunting of the Quark)

This is definitely a book for your Christmas list, and if it doesn't excite your mathematics colleagues too, they'll miss a treat.

(Rick Marshall School Science Review)

This book is beautifully written and is a didactic masterpiece.

(David Watts Science and Christian Belief)

Review

A fascinating journey into the bizarre, subatomic world of particle physics. PhysOrg.com 2004 Quantum field theory, group theory, Lie algebras, internal symmetry spaces and gauge theory. [Schumm] does a remarkably good job of explaining all this, with a style that is mercifully plain. -- Peter de Groot New Scientist 2005 Explores the world of particle physics in terms laymen can understand. Santa Cruz Sentinel 2005 I expect that any physics undergraduate, bewildered by textbooks and lectures, would find this a delight. -- Stephen Battersby New Scientist 2005 One of several recently published books attempting to provide for interested nonphysicists a relatively nonmathematical account of what has come to be called the standard model of particle physics... Schumm's treatment is perhaps more detailed. Choice 2005 This is definitely a book for your Christmas list, and if it doesn't excite your mathematics colleagues too, they'll miss a treat. -- Rick Marshall School Science Review 2006 This book is beautifully written and is a didactic masterpiece. -- David Watts Science and Christian Belief 2006

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2601 KB
  • Print Length: 361 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 080187971X
  • Publisher: JHUP (1 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GFILXC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #552,085 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book which combined a number of the best features of "pop" science writing. A fascinating subject and an expert guide who has clearly spent much time thinking about the ideas and themes underlying his subject. All this has led to an articulate and thoughtful presentation of a (the) triumph of 20th century research into the laws of nature, combining both theory and experimentation, the Standard Model of particle physics.
The author communicates much of the excitement and progress that must have been felt as the story unfolded over the last 100 years from Einstein, through Schrodinger, Dirac, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Weinberg and others. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on doing physics by pure thought and gauge theory (but then I'm no experimentalist!). It is the most accessible book that I have come across for many of these ideas, including Lie symmetry groups.
I think that, whilst not an easy ride for a reader without any maths or science background, it achieves its goal of explaining the Standard Model to the "intelligent" reader. The ability to believe three or four impossible things before breakfast may be helpful though!
If you are interested in learning more about the world we live in, not to mention what all the fuss is about with these particle accelerators, then the chances are that you will love this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is brilliant. The author manages to explain incredibly weird and abstruse concepts. Instead of talking down to you, he brings you up to his level - at these rarified heights, the air is thin but the view is astounding!

What really sets it apart from many other books is that it really gets into the "wibbly-wobbly" world of particle physics. Other books tend to rather patronisingly declare that the concepts are so complicated that they're simply too difficult to explain (which I presume means that their authors don't understand the concepts).

After first giving a primer on particle physics, with some interesting historical interludes, the author tackles gauge theory. He avoids a raft of equations and instead gives you a qualitative understanding of what's going on, often by using diagrams to help explain things.

He charts Lee-Mills theory during the 1950s and shows how, analogous to Mendeleev with the periodic table, physicists had a hunch that there were yet-to-be-discovered particles (e.g. quarks) out there. Schumm explains that these hunches were based on deep-down symmetries inherent in particle physics, and the consequences of those symmetries.

Schumm also explains the concepts of: the weak nuclear force (and the W and Z bosons), self-shielding by virtual particles, isospin, SU(2) & SU(3), and why the three forces (electromagnetic, weak and strong) appear to be aspects of a more fundamental underlying force.

Although well explained (given the subject matter), this book will make you think - I think parts of it are roughly on a par with "A Brief History of Time". But it's one of those books that gives you a whole new perspective - nature is more peculiar and more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

P.S. If you want to know more about this book, check out the reviews on amazon.com.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a most readable book. Some of us, particle physics 'aficionados', have been struggling for years trying to understand what are Lie groups, what is the gauge principle and where does the Higgs boson come from. This book definetly covers a gap.

Most existing books for the layman try to explaing the same things from the very beginning: what are complex numbers, the principles of quantum mechanics and its probabilistic nature, and the equivalence between mass and energy, among others. For readers that are already familiar with those concepts, and want to go further, this book is just what they have been looking for.

It is hard to imagine a better balance between depht of the material and easy to follow explanations. The author focuses on a few concepts and explains them slowly, going back to them again and again, until the reader finally grasps the thing. Instead of trying to be exhaustive, only the following topics are covered in some detail:

- Lie groups. We have heard of U(1), SU(2) and SU(3). At last one can find a demystifying explanation of what they are: just continuous rotation groups in various complex dimmensions.

- The gauge principle. That is, how local symmetries are exploited to build dynamic equations for the main forces of nature

- Electroweak unification. Observed particles in nature (photon and the W bosons) are combinations of "basic" particles, due to symmetry breaking

- The Higgs field an boson. How is it that this particule "gives" the mass to others? and ¿Where does it come from?. The author provides the best non-technical explanation that can possibly be given.

Most likely, if this is the first book you read about particle physics you won't understand much.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is certainly not meant for people who do not have some background in mathematics and physics. You need to have some acquaintance with things such as imaginary numbers, quantum physics, relativity, otherwise you will have a tough time.

That being said the author explains very well the most abstract concepts of elementary particles. He works gradually but persistently to that one goal: the unified theory on electric, weak and strong forces. He deliberately skips parts which are very interesting, gravitons for example, but would spoil the coherence of the matter described in this book. What he writes down feels rock solid. It makes indeed clear what a grand achievement physics has made since let's say 1870.

For me it was an eye opener how deceptively simple the basics are for this theory. Of course, the mathematical exercises to get it all proven and correct are far beyond my comprehension but after reading this book the concepts are crystal clear to me. In a matter of days my understanding has grown immensely.

I highly recommend this book.
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