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QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1985)

de Richard P. Feynman

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

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2,576334,165 (4.23)25
Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman's book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and further highlights Feynman's uniquely appealing and illuminating style.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 33 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
In typical Feynman fashion, this book skates on the edge of hard science and popular science, thereby presenting physicist-level experimentation and results to the widest possible audience. It is obvious that Feynman was passionate about QED (quantum electrodynamics; an unfortunate name, states Feynman). His goal is to do two things: (a) to present QED as "our best example of a good [scientific] theory" and (b) to describe the strange theory of "the interaction of light and electrons" (152, 4). Strange is an understated adjective to describe how photons and electrons interact, as is made clear through the example, chiefly, of the partial reflection problem. Over and over, Feynman sets us up for what common sense would tells us is going to happen, given a certain experiment, and then proves the contrary (or, the completed unexpected). At times, it can seem that these particles are aware of each other and...of us! Some of the major discoveries since Newton are: electrons looked like particles at first, and photons looked like waves at first; but now we find that both objects behave sometimes like waves and sometimes like particles. Further, it "appears that all the 'particles' in Nature--quarks, gluons, nutrinos, and so forth...behave in this quantum mechanical way" (85). The two facts that struck me most were that (a) all particles have an anti-particle; and (b) when the two collide, they annihilate each other and form other particles (98). So, if matter and anti-matter collide, annihilation occurs, and a photon is emitted. Yes, the quantum world is quite strange, and for that all the more intriguing. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
This weekend just passed my flatmate's boyfriend was visiting. Being the inquisitive sort, at one point he asked me if I could explain the main results of my PhD thesis to him in terms he would understand. To my eternal shame my knee-jerk response was "No." But a few moments later I was to be found scrawling on a napkin, explaining rational points on curves, density arguments, counting functions, and concluding by using the word "generalise" far more times in one sentence than I was comfortable with.

He seemed to follow my haphazard ramblings which is always enough to leave one chuffed. It's no secret to the science community that its biggest failing is an inability to communicate with and engage the public. The more esoteric the science, the trickier it is to convey it in terms that are both accurate and interesting. And, outside of pure mathematics, it doesn't get a great deal more esoteric than quantum mecahnics. So Richard Feynman's QED is laudable for, if nothing else, being about as understandable as is possible with this subject. There were times that the text lost me, but after giving it some thought I realised in each case that it was because I was expecting the quantum world to make sense, and to paraphrase my old Physics teacher: if quantum mechanics starts making sense, then you've stopped understanding it.

Feynman's abilities as a scientific orator are pretty well known—one of my favourite videos on Youtube is a two-and-a-half minute video of Feynman sitting in a chair explaining how a train stays on the tracks. Seriously. Feynman's writing skills are apparently just as good, but I've not read any of his other books and this one is actually the edited transcriptions of four of his lectures, so his speaking prowess proves more useful here. And as if being fascinating, self-deprecating, and witty wasn't enough, he also manages to be quite touching. The lectures were the inaugural set in a series dedicated to Alix Mautner, an English major and long time friend of Feynman to whom the physicist had promised to explain quantum electrodynamics in terms she could understand. Sadly she died before he managed to do so, but the lectures here are, as he says, the ones he prepared for Alex, but that he could no longer give just to her. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
This weekend just passed my flatmate's boyfriend was visiting. Being the inquisitive sort, at one point he asked me if I could explain the main results of my PhD thesis to him in terms he would understand. To my eternal shame my knee-jerk response was "No." But a few moments later I was to be found scrawling on a napkin, explaining rational points on curves, density arguments, counting functions, and concluding by using the word "generalise" far more times in one sentence than I was comfortable with.

He seemed to follow my haphazard ramblings which is always enough to leave one chuffed. It's no secret to the science community that its biggest failing is an inability to communicate with and engage the public. The more esoteric the science, the trickier it is to convey it in terms that are both accurate and interesting. And, outside of pure mathematics, it doesn't get a great deal more esoteric than quantum mecahnics. So Richard Feynman's QED is laudable for, if nothing else, being about as understandable as is possible with this subject. There were times that the text lost me, but after giving it some thought I realised in each case that it was because I was expecting the quantum world to make sense, and to paraphrase my old Physics teacher: if quantum mechanics starts making sense, then you've stopped understanding it.

Feynman's abilities as a scientific orator are pretty well known—one of my favourite videos on Youtube is a two-and-a-half minute video of Feynman sitting in a chair explaining how a train stays on the tracks. Seriously. Feynman's writing skills are apparently just as good, but I've not read any of his other books and this one is actually the edited transcriptions of four of his lectures, so his speaking prowess proves more useful here. And as if being fascinating, self-deprecating, and witty wasn't enough, he also manages to be quite touching. The lectures were the inaugural set in a series dedicated to Alix Mautner, an English major and long time friend of Feynman to whom the physicist had promised to explain quantum electrodynamics in terms she could understand. Sadly she died before he managed to do so, but the lectures here are, as he says, the ones he prepared for Alex, but that he could no longer give just to her. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
... since there are obviously more people here tonight than there were before, some of you haven't heard the other two lectures and will find this lecture almost incomprehensible. Those of you who have heard the other two lectures will also find this lecture incomprehensible, but you know that's all right: as I explained in the first lecture, the way we have to explain Nature is generally incomprehensible to us.

This is a transcript of a set of four lectures Feynman gave to a "non-technical" audience in 1983, with the goal of giving them an intelligible account of quantum electrodynamics, one of the most conceptually-difficult bits of physics, an area that is normally reserved for graduate students, and the field in which he had earned his Nobel prize.

It's the kind of challenge that Feynman obviously loved, and he rose to it with enthusiasm, taking care to make sure the audience realised that what physicists are trying to do is not so much to arrive at a philosophical "understanding" of the how or why of the physical universe, as to attempt to find mathematical tools that give them a reasonably good chance of predicting the numbers that will come out of an experiment. By the time we get down to the scale on which quantum physics operates, we don't have the mental equipment to make any kind of imaginative sense of the phenomena that are being described, and those mathematical tools are all we have. But that's perfectly OK, as long as they work we can use them, we don't need to waste time trying to visualise what they represent. And when they don't work, it starts to get interesting and we can do more physics...

Feynman takes us through the interactions of photons and electrons in an astonishingly painless way in the first three lectures, then in the fourth he sketches in the missing part, what happens in the nucleus.

Another of the really great science writers. A pleasure to read, even if it doesn't really put you into a position to calculate the magnetic moment of the electron... ( )
  thorold | Mar 2, 2020 |
Finally finished a non-fiction book this year. That was short but dense. Fascinating, yet I probably only understood 5% of that. I probably should read it 5 more times, but I'll pat myself on the back for finishing it once. I really enjoyed it and glad I tackled it, but doesn't want to make me rush in to reading his "Six Easy Pieces..." ( )
  TravbudJ | Jun 22, 2019 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (14 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Richard P. Feynmanautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Leighton, RalphPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mautner, LeonardPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Zee, AnthonyIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Alix Mautner was very curious about physics and often asked me to explain things to her. I would do all right, just as I do with a group of students at Caltech that come to me for an hour on Thursdays, but eventually I’d fail at what is to me the most interesting part: We would always get hung up on the crazy ideas of quantum mechanics. I told her I couldn’t explain these ideas in an hour or an evening—it would take a long time—but I promised her that someday I’d prepare a set of lectures on the subject.
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Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman's book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and further highlights Feynman's uniquely appealing and illuminating style.

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