The Beat of a Different Drum

Jagdish Mehra, Author
Jagdish Mehra, Author Oxford University Press, USA $35 (680p) ISBN 978-0-19-853948-3
Paperback - 710 pages - 978-0-19-851887-7
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The rigorous treatment of Feynman's science here may reward graduate students in physics but will likely overwhelm other fans of the lively, Nobel Prize-winning physicist who died in 1988. Science writer Mehra, who teaches physics at the Citadel in South Carolina, competently tracks the development of Feynman's breakthrough work, especially his signature path integral solutions, but awkward syntax and train-wreck chronology distort his subject's life. The first fifth of the book details Feynman's early education and family life without capturing a sense of the uniqueness of the youth who was considered a genius sui generis by one of his high school teachers. Many of the plentiful quotes in this work are attributed to secondary sources, especially Feynman's own popular writings; the general reader may find quantum topics more accessibly examined in the physicist's own QED and The Feynman Lectures on Physics . In the end, Mehra cannot do justice to the large spirit of his subject, either in his life or work. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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