Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory: The Theoretical Minimum

Leonard Susskind and Art Friedman. Basic, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-465-09334-2
Susskind and Friedman follow their collaboration on Quantum Mechanics by probing the mathematical nitty-gritty of field theory and Einstein’s theory of special relativity in the third installment of the Theoretical Minimum series. The series is designed to complement Susskind’s videos on the Stanford University website, introducing students to “the theoretical minimum” needed to understand modern physics. Here, the authors begin with discussions of inertial reference frames and the concept of simultaneity. That leads to Lorentz transformations, which describe how time and length change at velocities approaching the speed of light, and the infamous “twin paradox”: the strange theoretical phenomenon in which an identical twin at rest ages faster than a sibling on a high-speed journey in space. The authors examine relativistic fields and how particles move in them before introducing tensors and diving headlong into magnetic and electric fields, field theory, and Maxwell’s equations. As with the authors’ previous books, enthusiastic discussion is seasoned with wry humor. The book requires knowledge of calculus, but the text is well paced. The latest book in the Theoretical Minimum series delivers exactly that, in clear and concise chapters. Illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 09/26/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-465-09335-9
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-5416-7406-6
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