Cover image for Hidden unity in nature's laws
Hidden unity in nature's laws
Taylor, John C. (John Clayton), 1930-
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xiii, 490 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Motion in earth and in the heavens -- Energy, heat and chance -- Electricity and magnetism -- Light -- Space and time -- Least action -- Gravitation and curved spacetime -- The quantum revolution -- Quantum theory with special relativity -- Order breaks symmetry -- Quarks and what hold them together -- Unifying weak forces with QED -- Gravitation plus Quantum theory, stars and black holes -- Particles, symmetries and the universe -- Queries.
Subject Term:

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QC7 .T39 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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As physics has progressed through the ages it has succeeded in explaining more and more diverse phenomena with fewer and fewer underlying principles. This lucid and wide-ranging book explains how this understanding has developed by periodically uncovering unexpected 'hidden unities' in nature. The author deftly steers the reader on a fascinating path which goes to the heart of physics - the search and discovery of elegant laws which unify and simplify our understanding of the intricate Universe in which we live. Starting with the Ancient Greeks, the author traces the development of major concepts in physics right up to the present day. Throughout, the presentation is crisp and informative and only a minimum of mathematics is used. Any reader with a background in mathematics or physics will find this book a fascinating insight into the development of our fundamental understanding of the world, and the apparent simplicity underlying it.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Successful books about science for nonscientists tread a fine line. Information must not be lost in discussions that are too technical, but scientific rigor must not be sacrificed for story line. Taylor (emer., mathematical physics, Univ. of Cambridge, UK) takes a historical approach to physics, beginning with the Greeks and finishing with cosmology and elementary particle physics at the end of the 20th century. A third of the book is concerned with "classical physics," i.e., mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, and electricity and magnetism before the revolutions of quantum mechanics and relativity. These topics are related to everyday experience, and the examples are both amusing and instructive. The last two-thirds of the book begins with the physics of the last decade of the 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th. Explaining these topics and their implications to nonscientists is difficult, but Taylor generally succeeds in conveying the intellectual achievements and the generality that came with the new theories. As each new theory succeeded in unifying larger and more diverse areas of physics, it also revealed unsuspected contradictions. Throughout, quantitative discussions use dimensional analysis and order of magnitude estimates. Knowledge of these estimation methods is essential for full appreciation of the book. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. M. Coplan Institute for Physical Science and Technology

Table of Contents

1 Motion on earth and in the heavens
2 Energy, heat, and chance
3 Electricity and magnetism
4 Light
5 Space and time
6 Least action
7 Gravitation and curved spacetime
8 The quantum revolution
9 Quantum theory with special relativity
10 Order breaks symmetry
11 Quarks and what hold them together
12 Unifying weak forces with QED
13 Gravitation plus quantum theory - stars and black holes
14 Particles, symmetries and the universe
15 Queries
16 Appendices