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# QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

Famous the world over for the creative brilliance of his insights into the physical world, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the nonscientist. QED--the edited version of four lectures on quantum electrodynamics that Feynman gave to the general public at UCLA as part of the Alix G. Mautn
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Paperback, 158 pages

Published
October 21st 1988
by Princeton University Press
(first published 1985)

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*really*is. Really, it's a love letter to a dead woman. Feynman says in his introduction that his friend Alix Mautner had always wanted him to explain quantum electrodynamics to her so that she could understand it, and he'd never gotten around to doing that. Now it was too late. But, somehow, you can see that that only made him want to do it, n ...more

Apr 14, 2012
AnnMarie
added it

You could call me a science groupie. I put on Cosmos while I clean the house, snatch up Michio Kaku's books like they won't be there tomorrow, know all the words to every Symphony of Science song ever, and follow Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter--but that doesn't mean I know the first thing about real science. I couldn't solve a linear algebraic equation even if the world depended on it (sorry, world). Instead, I revere famous physicists from afar while most women my age drool over movie stars lik
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Feynman starts by promising to, in four slim chapters, derive the fundamental properties of light and matter. Not describe, but derive, starting from the basic axioms of his newly developed theory of quantum electrodynamics, the theory for which he won the Nobel in Physics, and which is a part of the Standard Model, the most a ...more

*only*popular quantum physics book that both preserves a modicum of accuracy and is accessible to the layperson is "QED" by Richard Feynman. My formal education in physics doesn't extend beyond the GCSE level, so I'm in no position to judge this book's accuracy directly. However, I do know that Feynman is widely considered not just one of the most brilliant physicists but also one o ...more

The book is transcription of a few lectures Feynman gave on Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), a branch of quantum theory he and Dirac developed. Feynman introduces a few simple rules on how electrons and photons behave (which appear to be easy-to-digest analogs for vector calculus) and then off he goes, explaining the theory a ...more

Dec 28, 2014
Mary-Jean Harris
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
esoteric-philosophy-or-science

This book hits all the marks for a great novel. Yes, it's a science book, but it's probably one of the best ones I've read so far. Feynman has a fun style of writing and makes these topics very easy to understand. He really captures the wonder and excitement that new things in physics can offer. Even though I knew many of the things in the book already, I had never seen them presented in this way before, as in, explaining common phenomena like reflection and diffraction with the little "arrows"
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Esta es una de las muchas incursiones que hizo el gran Feynman en el terreno de la divulgación científica. En realidad él no escribió ninguno de sus libros de divulgación científica, sino que se adaptaron de sus ciclos de conferencias de divulgación, que, ahí sí, Feynman preparaba a conciencia. Este libro surge de una serie de cuatro conferencias que dio Feynman en UCLA (que en inglés no se dice ucla sino u-c-l-a, *iusielei*, dato CPI para viajeros por tierras californianas).

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Feynman explains quantum electrodynamics very clearly with a humorous twist. The book is logical and very well written altogether. The last chapter is the only somewhat hard part, since in that one Feyn ...more

Alas, that's the nature of science popularization. If you omit math, the heart is gone, and you have to make do with the leftover shell. Feynman does the best job of leaving behind some substance that I've ever seen in such a book.

Excellent pedagogy, and some great q ...more

I read this book 25 years ago in English, making it both a review of material already covered and a useful exercise in German reading. Once again, it no way disappoints. Feynmann must surely take a place on my list of intellectual heroes, as his unique genius is not merely to have made decisive contributions to the theory of quantum electrodynamics ("QED"), but to have had the gift of explaining it in an accessible way.

The world of QED is weird. There ...more

The author is one of the greatest physicists of 20th century, and highly regarded as one of the best instructors of physics, but the reader must have some knowledge of science and strong interest in physics, and appreciate optical phenomenon; reflection of light, refraction, etc. Reading this book at first may be boring, but reading for second or third time gives you a good idea about the theory and help you understand the elegance with which the author has ...more

I don't think I would recommend this book for anyone that doesn't have a basic understanding of both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics.

Feynman is that unique and rare breed of scientist who can successfully explain very complicated ideas in simple terms so non-scientists ...more

Jun 12, 2007
Sporkurai
added it

Feynman is absolutely brilliant and shows it, probably intentionally, by making one of the most confusing and unintuitive subjects of human knowledge easily accessible. He has a very modest and unpretentious style and seems to revel in the simplicity to which he can reduce the most complex ideas. I would recommend him as quite possibly the most ideal writer on quantum physics for the layman.

His conclusions in chapter 4: that 99% of what we observe is the relationship of electrons and photons and that we understand them well, but that the remaining 1% is such a ...more

Jun 23, 2014
Gianni Costanzi
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Anyone interested in Particle Physics and Physics/Science as general topics

Ho comprato questo libro dopo aver attraversato un percorso nella fisica divulgativa con i libri di Brian Greene (La trama del cosmo. Spazio, tempo, realtà, L'universo elegante. Superstringhe, dimensioni nascoste e la ricerca della teoria ultima e La realtà nascosta. Universi paralleli e leggi profonde del cosmo, Sean Carroll (La particella alla fine dell'universo. La caccia al bosone di Higgs e le nuove frontiere della fisica e Jim Baggott Il bosone di Higgs. L'invenzione e la scoperta della «p
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Partendo dalle basi e arrivando alle ultime teorie più azzardate, Feynamn riesce perfettamente a far comprendere quanto la fisica moderna sia bizzarra e allo stesso tempo logica, assurda, ma estremamente precisa.

Benché Feynman abbia uno stile di scrittura semplice ed efficace, con molto pochi termini tecnici astrusi e in ...more

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Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Pr
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“What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.”
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“There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the observed coupling constant, e - the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close to 0.08542455. (My physicist friends won't recognize this number, because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about 137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the "hand of God" wrote that number, and "we don't know how He pushed his pencil." We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!”
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