This is a rare and much-needed book: a concise but comprehensive account of quantum mechanics for popular science readers written by a respected physicist. Sam Treiman--internationally renowned for his work in particle physics--makes quantum mechanics accessible to nonspecialists. Combining mastery of the material with clear, elegant prose and infectious enthusiasm, he conveys the substance, methods, and profound oddities of the field. Treiman begins with an overview of quantum mechanics. He sketches the early development of the field by Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and others, and he makes clear how the quantum outlook flies in the face of common sense. As he explains, the quantum world is intrinsically probabilistic. For example, a particle is not in general in some particular place at a given instant, nor does it have a definite momentum. According to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, there is a limit to how well both location and momentum can be specified simultaneously. In addition, particles can move through barriers and otherwise move in regions of space that are forbidden by classical mechanics.
If a particle has a choice of different paths, it pursues all of them at once. Particles display wave-like characteristics and waves show particle-like characteristics. Treiman pays special attention to the more fundamental wave outlook and its expression in quantum field theory. He deals here with the remarkable fact that all the particles of a given species are strictly identical, and with the unnerving fact that particles can be created and destroyed. As Treiman introduces us to these and other wonders, he also touches--without resolution--on some of the deep philosophical problems of quantum mechanics, notably how probabilities become facts. Weaving together impeccable and up-to-date science, engaging writing, and a talent for clear explanation honed over Treiman's distinguished career as a physicist and teacher, The Odd Quantum is a remarkable survey of a field that changed the course of modern scientific and philosophical thought.
Sam Treiman was the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics Emeritus at Princeton University. He cowrote "Current Algebra and Its Applications" (Princeton) with R. Jackiw and D. Gross, "Current Algebra and Anomalies" (Princeton) with R. Jackiw, B. Zumino, and E. Witten, and "Formal Theory of Scattering" with C. Grosjeans. He wrote numerous articles, mostly centered on the study of fundamental particles, for leading physics journals. Professor Treiman died in 1999.
PREFACE vii 1. Introduction 3 Overview. Beginnings. 2. Classical Background 27 Newton's law. Gravity. Energy. Electromagnetism. Special Relativity. 3. The "Old" Quantum Mechanics 61 Electromagnetic Waves. Blackbody Radiation. Early Spectroscopy. The Rutherford Atom. Bohr's Quantum Model. De Broglie's Matter Waves. 4. Foundations 80 The Two-Slit Experiment. Schroedinger's Wave Equation. Probabilistic Interpretation. A Brief Survey of the Rules. Commuting Observables. The Uncertainty Principle. Momentum. The Operator Concept. Angular Momentum. Aspects of Energy. 5. Some Quantum Classics 119 The Free Particle. Particle in a Box. The Harmonic Oscillator. Central Potentials Generally. The One-Electron Atom. The Infinite Solenoid. Decay Processes. 6. Identical Particles 149 Symmetry, Antisymmetry Rules. The Pauli Principle. The Fermi Gas. Atoms. More on Identical Bosons. 7. What's Going On? 173 8. The Building Blocks 191 Particles in Collision, Particles in Decay. Accelerators. Patterns and Regularities. Basic Ingredients. Summary. 9. Quantum Fields 231 Free Fields, Free particles. Interactions. Feynman Diagrams. Virtual Particles. The Standard Model in Diagrams. Again, What's Going On? READINGS 255 INDEX 257