Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quantum Field Theory In A Nutshell?

On one of my book shelves I have tons of astrostuff magazines, they're all pushed tightly up against one end of the book shelf by an anchor book called, Quantum Field Theory In A Nutshell, well , true story, when trying to pull out one of my mags from the tightly packed group of 40,000 plus mags, a few slid out and when trying to catch them I knocked the heaviest anchor book in the world off the shelf and onto my foot, along with the rest of the 40,000 plus magazines. I said to myself there's got to be a post in this somewhere.

Whats the first thing you think of when you see "in a nutshell" in the title of a book? I think clear to the point information, much like Stephen Hawking's book The Universe In A Nutshell. In Hawking's book it breaks down complex theories into understandable concepts for the casual reader, and it has lots of funny pictures, makes me happy. So I thought to myself, yes I love to learn more about quantum mechanics and since I have yet to find a "for dummies book"on this topic I thought "in a nutshell book" should do in a pinch and bought it off Amazon. The title of the book, "Quantum Field Theory In A Nutshell" is very misleading, unless it's referring to a giant nutshell from the planet "quantum", in the star system "smarty pants." because it has a very steep learning curve, I took a pic of pages 10,11, below, notice all the formulas, I mean I like formulas just as much as the next guy, but on pages 10 and 11? maybe later on after they've put in lots of funny pictures, makes me happy just thinking about it.

There is the theory of General Relativity which Albert Einstein came up with which explains things like gravity, space, time, the cosmos, just about everything we see around us can be explained by this major theory, Quantum mechanics on the other hand deals with how subatomic particles behave. In quantum mechanics the saying is," you don't understand quantum mechanics, you just get used to it".

Some of the weird and interesting stuff of quantum mechanics are for example, a subatomic particle, lets say an electron, can be in numerous different places at the same time, until you look at it, then it is at the place your looking at, and no other place. In the quantum world you can know too much about something, therefore you have to find negative information to cancel out the fact you know too much. Another thing, lets say you look at some type of subatomic particle, by looking at it you destroy its "quantum nature", so it behaves one way if your watching it, but another way if your looking away, its as if your looking at it forced it to behave the way you expected it to, all mind boggling stuff.

In short, subatomic particles don't behave the way they should when we apply the general relativity theory, space and time as we know them don't work, subatomic particles have their own theory called quantum mechanics. The worlds greatest scientists and theorists are working busily on developing the Theory of Everything which would bridge the gap between and make sense of both quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. As it stands right now Superstring theory is what most theorists think is the missing piece to this puzzle. The superstring theory's basic premise is that everything is made of vibrating strings instead of teeny tiny particles, this brings in all kinds of wacky things like 10,11 or even 26 extra dimensions called branes.

If your a student and your university is sold out of this book, or an alien from the planet Quantum and you want some light reading before bedtime, the first 10 bucks plus shipping and handling gets it. I found myself another anchor book Physics-Astronomy Frontier ,
that's right another big hardcover book with no pictures.


Anna said...

Bob, this reminds me my university classes. I had to take quantum theory once. First day of class 120 students, 2nd day of class may be 60 students, between term classes 4-5 students sitting in, last class 120 students, everyone pass the course YES. How, the guy lived in the Nutshell, and probably did not even noticed that most of us were missing, lol. Aside of joking, I could never understand anything in quantum theory, okay, may be the E=mc2 formula but that is all. Good post, and yes selling your book is a good move...but I am not buying it.
Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Anna, yes E=mc2 is the theory of relativity, Quantum Mechanics is very strange but it makes you think totally different about space and time.

zunnur said...

Bob, not any brains could understand this subject, even to understand a few points, I had to squeeze my brain. I'm quite impressed that you could easily digest those information!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Zunner, Yea, I'm so used to this stuff, sometimes forget other people aren't, some stuff is just to weird to make user friendly.

zunnur said...

But I think that its good to share those weird stuff, at least people will know that such knowledge exists. I didn't know anything at all about this Quantum Mechanics until I read your post.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Zunnur, thats what I do, I try to pass on weird and interesting stuff, who knows matbe somebody besides me will like it