The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

Book - 1985
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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.

Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1985.
ISBN: 9780691083889
Characteristics: x, 158 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm.


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Mar 08, 2018

I found this book very interesting yet relatively easy to follow as it delves into many of the quirky properties of light without using too much physics jargon and without any complex equations. Instead Richard P. Feynman uses very well constructed analogies and many clear diagrams to explain how light interacts with other objects and even itself without confusing readers not educated as physicists. For example, I found his representation of light as an arrow that rotates around like the hand of a stopwatch that times it’s motion to be a great analogy that helped me understand light’s interference with itself without having to completely understand phase shift and interference. Overall, this book was great as it taught me a few things about light’s behavior but mostly because it showed me that there was so much more for me to learn about light and made me more interested in physics.
- @CookieMonster of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Apr 09, 2015

Very clearly written, with many annotated diagrams that help explain the subject.

May 18, 2011

Excellent - easy read

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