QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

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9780691083889: QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter


Famous the world over for the creative brilliance of his insights into the physical world, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the nonscientist. QED--the edited version of four lectures on quantum electrodynamics that Feynman gave to the general public at UCLA as part of the Alix G. Mautner Memorial Lecture series--is perhaps the best example of his ability to communicate both the substance and the spirit of science to the layperson.


The focus, as the title suggests, is quantum electrodynamics (QED), the part of the quantum theory of fields that describes the interactions of the quanta of the electromagnetic field-light, X rays, gamma rays--with matter and those of charged particles with one another. By extending the formalism developed by Dirac in 1933, which related quantum and classical descriptions of the motion of particles, Feynman revolutionized the quantum mechanical understanding of the nature of particles and waves. And, by incorporating his own readily visualizable formulation of quantum mechanics, Feynman created a diagrammatic version of QED that made calculations much simpler and also provided visual insights into the mechanisms of quantum electrodynamic processes.


In this book, using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman successfully provides a definitive introduction to QED for a lay readership without any distortion of the basic science. Characterized by Feynman's famously original clarity and humor, this popular book on QED has not been equaled since its publication.


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About the Author:

Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) was one of this century's most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work on QED. Books by Feynman in Penguin include The Character of Physical Law (1992, 36,000 copies), Six Easy Pieces (1998, 27,000 copies, and Six Not-So-Easy Pices (1999, 10,000 copies).

From Library Journal:

This volume, constituting the printed version of the first of the Alix G. Mautner Memorial Lectures to be given periodically at UCLA, certainly gets this new series off to a flying start. World-renowned for the liveliness and creativity of his physical insights, Caltech physicist Feynman provides another of his tours de force as he clearly explains the arcane workings of quantum electrodynamics, a theory which Feynman himself helped to establish. Starting with such familiar phenomena as the reflection and refraction of light, Feynman goes on to describe in detail the interactions between electrons and light. Although the text requires more concentration to grasp than most science popularizations, things never get out of hand. A good choice for collections serving informed readers. Thomas E. Margrave, formerly with Physics & Astronomy Dept., Univ. of Montana, Missoula
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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