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# QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

by

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
...more

## Get A Copy

Paperback, 158 pages

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

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## Reader Q&A

## Community Reviews

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Start your review of QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

*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

(Any excuse for a

*Breaking Bad*reference.)

Seriously, though, this is one of the best pop science books I’ve yet encountered. I read

*Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character*last year, and was thoroughly impressed by Feynman’s animated personality and his passion for physics. Now I find myself even more impressed by his exceptional teaching ability.

*QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter*is a collection of 4 lectures he gave t ...more

I love this area of physics and I think it’s wonderful: it is called quantum electrodynamics, or QED for short.

I love this book and I think it’s wonderful: it is called

*QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter*, or

*QED*for short.

I feel as though I’ve been searching for this book for a long time, and now I’ve finally found it. In scarcely 150 pages, Feynman takes you inside the logic of this famously obscure subject. What was before unintelligible is breezy in Feynman’s hands. What had b ...more

I took this photo when I was about half way through the book. It shows a picture of a CD [click to enlarge]. It's been illuminated by an ordinary office lamp and the flashlight from my camera. I knew about this "rainbow" effect for a long time, but I didn't know exactly

*how*it is created. This book gives some answers.

To write a successful book like

*QED*(short for Quantum Electro-Dynamics) two prerequisites are required: 1) The author must know a great deal about the subject matter, and 2) He ...more

Even for people like myself, who have been trained in physics, these lectures are useful. The way Feynman clearly communicates the concepts while not diving into mathematics is brilliant. I think these lectures are must read material for aspiring physicists. ...more

Mar 31, 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
...more

Feynman writes for the layman without ever being condescending and his famous sense of humour shines through. He makes this subject both approachab ...more

*QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter*is an outstanding book on a subject that is often overlooked or glossed-over in many popular physics books. Feynman does a deep dive on Quantum Electrodynamics: a theory that deals not only with the various interactions between light and matter, but which can be applied to every area of physics with the exception of gravitation and nuclear physics.

The theory of QED is fascinating, both in its explanatory power and its elegance. Using only a handful of ...more

He uses arrows to represent complex numbers in complex plane,with its modules and phases and uses sums and products of histories in the propagation of the photon ...more

Jul 09, 2020
Bernardo
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction,
science

In the beginning of QED, Richard Feynman says that people are always asking physicists about the new findings of a grand unified theory. He feels they should also be asked about known and confirmed theories instead of undercooked and partially analyzed ones. So he decides to speak about the “well dissected and marvelous” theory of QED. The theory describes the interactions between photos and electrons, space-time and probabilities, among others.

The book is based on four conferences given by Rich ...more

The book is based on four conferences given by Rich ...more

That's my position: I'm going to explain to you what the physicists aredoingwhen they are predicting how Nature will behave, but I'm not going to teach you any tricks so you can do itefficiently.

Starting from the idea of photons as particles of light, Feynman develops a nontechnical, easily understandable theory of basic quantum electrodynamics, or QED. He uses it to give modern explanations of everyday phenomena such as reflection and refraction, before delving into the basic of electron-pho ...more

Some of my favorite parts: I learned that light doesn't always travel in a straight line or at the speed of light, ...more

It's the absolutely essential reading physics book for everyone . ...more

Feynman uses light’s refraction to illustrate the relationship between electrons and photons. To under ...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

I feel like I really understood something... maybe that's because I'm a physicist and I know some of these things, but nevertheless I think Feynman explained everything so clearly that a layman could ...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

Physics has become full of Mess, these recent days, since the discovery of quantum mechanics and perhaps you'd claim that Physics is Ugly.

Well I couldn't agree with you more, but on the other hand, Physicist and the whole of the physics community have done the great job of correlating these ...more

I have often complained that I didn't "believe in" quantum theory because it doesn't make sense. It turns out that nobody understands WHY it works, but Dr. Feynman ...more

The explanation is good, you can understand, you are able to imagine things and if you are really interested I believe you can make suppositions. But I am not. I read the book because it sounded interesting and I thought that after reading it I would be more able to understand things. I am not. What I knew, I know.

Lots of formules - actually, I know something new: the way to calculate and that the result of an action is done by an ar ...more

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec03o... ...more

Sep 30, 2014
Mary-Jean Harris
rated it
it was amazing
·
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"
...more

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## Goodreads is hiring!

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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