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This volume provides a broad synthesis of conceptual developments of twentieth century field theories, from the general theory of relativity to quantum field theory and gauge theory. The book traces the foundations and evolution of these theories within a historio-critical context. Theoretical physicists and students of theoretical physics will find this a valuable account of the foundational problems of their discipline that will help them understand the internal logic and dynamics of theoretical physics. It will also provide professional historians and philosophers of science, particularly philosophers of physics, with a conceptual basis for further historical, cultural and sociological analysis of the theories discussed. Finally, the scientifically qualified general reader will find in this book a deeper analysis of contemporary conceptions of the physical world than can be found in popular accounts of the subject.
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The purpose of this book is to give a broad synthesis of 20th century field theories, from the general theory of relativity to quantum, field theory and gauge theory. These theories are treated primarily as conceptual schemes, in terms of which our conceptions and integrated picture of the physical world are formed. The aim is to give a cogent historico-critical expostion of the conceptual foundations of the theories to reveal a pattern and direction to the evolution of these conceptions.Review:
"...a work of remarkable scope that integrates physics with the history and philosophy of science without being superficial in any of these diverse disciplines. It surely stands alone as a unique intellectual undertaking...an informative and rewarding intellectual experience." James T. Cushing, Physics Today
"Tian Yu Cao has written a very unusual book, very informative and yet challenging to some conventional ideas..." Lauri M. Brown, American Journal of Physics
"The book is studded with gems....it ought to be required reading for every student of relativity, certainly for every teacher of the subject." Arthur Fine, Science
"...a deep and masterly overview of the conceptual foundations of field theories." Helge Kragh, Isis
"...built around the tacit premise that there exists one canon of important physics papers, each with its own correct interpretation....Cao stands poised now to right us in our quest." Historical Studies in the Physics and Biological Sciences
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