Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum (Hardcover)
Fair warning is given
in the introduction: this book is for “mathematically literate non-physicists”
and a “basic knowledge of calculus and linear algebra” are necessary. Susskind
and Freeman give us the bare minimum for attempting to understand quantum theory,
showing us the basic “rules of the game,” laying them out methodically and,
thankfully, not too quickly. Susskind
does not digress into any philosophical discussion whatsoever, almost achieving
metaphysical and ontological neutrality, never speculating on the quiddity of
quanta themselves. One could almost call it quantitative epistemology, a
numerical and symbolic mapping of an (almost) unbelievably abstract
territory. When I saw Anton Zeilenger speak, he swooned over the math of
quantum theory, and Susskind does show the elegance and beauty of the symbols
dancing and their almost miraculous delivery of numerical predictions. The
book also cleared up some things that have bothered me about quantum theory:
Why are imaginary numbers necessary? What is the nature of entanglement
within the formalism? What is the wave in the famous Wave
Function? What kind of a space is Hilbert space? The only real
disappointment in the book is a lack of suggested reading. I am grateful
that Susskind has taken the time to make this fascinating subject approachable
above the qualitative plane—the only way to skin the quantum cat is with math.
First he taught you classical mechanics. Now, physicist Leonard Susskind has teamed up with data engineer Art Friedman to present the theory and associated mathematics of the strange world of quantum mechanics. In this follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Theoretical Minimum, Susskind and Friedman provide a lively introduction to this famously difficult field, which attempts to understand the behavior of sub-atomic objects through mathematical abstractions. Unlike other popularizations that shy away from quantum mechanics' weirdness, Quantum Mechanics embraces the utter strangeness of quantum logic. The authors offer crystal-clear explanations of the principles of quantum states, uncertainty and time dependence, entanglement, and particle and wave states, among other topics, and each chapter includes exercises to ensure mastery of each area. Like The Theoretical Minimum, this volume runs parallel to Susskind's eponymous Stanford University-hosted continuing education course. An approachable yet rigorous introduction to a famously difficult topic, Quantum Mechanics provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.
About the Author
Leonard Susskind has been the Felix Bloch Professor in Theoretical Physics at Stanford University since 1978. He is the author (with George Hrabovsky) of The Theoretical Minimum, as well as The Black Hole War and The Cosmic Landscape. He lives in Palo Alto, California. Art Friedman is a data consultant who previously spent fifteen years at Hewlett-Packard as a software engineer. A lifelong student of physics, he lives in Mountain View, California.