Friday, March 18, 2011

Quantum and String Theories for Dummies?

Wiley Publishing Company has two books, in its Dummies series, about quantum mechanics and/or string theory:

Quantum Physics for Dummies by Steven Holzner [2009, 321 pages, $19.99, Wiley Publishing, NJ]

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String Theory for Dummies by Andrew Zimmerman Jones with Daniel Robbins [2010, 366 pages, $19.99, Wiley Publishing, NJ]

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Holzner’s book is, as far as we can determine, geared to college students or advanced high schoolers who are adept at mathematics of an advanced kind (Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus particularly).

Jones and Robbins provide an overview of quantum physics and string theory without a total immersion (as Holzner insists) in mathematics.

If you’re looking for a cogent assessment of string theory, which is in a category rightfully called a quantum field theory, get the Jones/Robbins book.

If you are a math genius – and we accent “genius” – Holzner’s book will satisfy. It won’t enlighten you about quantum mechanics in a philosophical way but it can lead you through the abstruse mathematics of quantum theorizing.

Holzner’s book, in our estimation, is not a Dummies book, per se. It’s a tome on rarified mathematics, which science and physicists use to remain arcane and aloof.

Jones with Robbins, on the other hand, empathize with readers who want to know more about quantum and string theory and provide a door to understanding both.

We’ll be presenting material from the Jones book upcoming.

As for the Holzner book, we’ll leave that for those who think science is furthered by use of mathematics rather than clear statements of logic and hypothesizing, in plain English.

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