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Longing for the Harmonies : Themes and Variations from Modern Physics - Frank Wilczek

Longing for the Harmonies

Themes and Variations from Modern Physics

Paperback

Published: 17th April 1989
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Devoted to sharing their own delight and awe before the fundamental mysteries of the cosmos, Frank Wilczek (winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics) and science writer Betsy Devine also have a serious purpose: to reveal to the lay reader how a heightened perception can respond to timeless themes of the physical universe. For example, they show that even the most exotic theories always confirm that physical laws are precisely the same throughout the universe, and they explain how we have learned that the most massive molten stars and the tiniest frozen particles are in physical harmony. In their descriptions of the workings of the half-known universe, Wilczek and Devine bring all of us face to face with the beauty of eternal order and the inevitability of rational ends and beginnings.

From MacArthur fellowship-winner/physicist Wilczek and coauthor Devine, an uncommon and uncommonly good exposition of contemporary quantum physics. The authors use music as a metaphor, elaborating numerous themes and variations that liken the vibrations of elementary matter to strings and sounding boards. The metaphor also recalls the work of Pythagoras and the elevation of number (and hence mathematics) as the key to understanding nature. These historical and contemporary modes help clarify the mysteries at the heart of quantum mechanics: the dual nature of photons, electrons, and other fundamental units as waves and particles. This fresh approach to themes that have inspired dozens of popularizations in recent years takes on a distinctly personal cast as Wilzcek describes his odyssey in developing "asymptomatically free theories" through the application of certain mathematical constructs. In essence, the theory explains why the strong force, which binds protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei, seems opposed to common sense: The force is weak when the particles are close, growing stronger as the particles move farther apart. Finally, Wilzcek's and Devine's vision of themes and harmonies inevitably lead them from the infinitesimally small to the universe itself, making the leap from atoms to galaxies, from accelerator collisions to the Big Bang. Not all of this is easy-going; one could wish for a little more mathematical explanation in terms, say, of the group theory behavior of quarks. But there are plenty of moments of enlightenment to cheer lay readers who want yet another version - or vision - of ultimate reality. (Kirkus Reviews)

Introduction
Acknowledgments
Reply to Keats (on the Rainbow)p. 3
The Nature of Color: We Are All Color-Blindp. 6
Spectra: Music of the Spheresp. 12
Earth-Stuff and Star-Stuffp. 16
Rhapsody on N (the World Between)p. 20
Radical Conservatismp. 25
The Cosmic Order of Galaxiesp. 29
Doppler Shiftp. 34
Expansion and Uniformityp. 38
Inferno and Afterglowp. 41
Three Agesp. 49
Treiman's Theoremp. 55
New Starp. 58
The Weak Interactionp. 62
Ego and Survivalp. 71
Levels of Equilibriump. 75
Universal Chemistry (or, the Battle Between Entropy and Energy)p. 78
Cooking with Gobar (or, the Energy Strikes Back)p. 84
Explosions and Fluorescence (or, Entropy's Revenge)p. 89
In the First Circlep. 99
Light as Wavesp. 102
Light as Lumpsp. 109
Lavesp. 113
Branching Worldsp. 119
Frustration and Uncertaintyp. 130
A Quantum Lotteryp. 133
Back to Pythagorasp. 137
The Indistinguishablep. 143
Fieldsp. 155
Maxwell Reduxp. 165
The Search for Depthp. 173
Antimatterp. 177
Quarks: a Peculiar Chemistryp. 189
Colourp. 196
Gluonsp. 200
How Asymptotic Freedom Discovered Mep. 207
Asymptotic Freedomp. 218
In Praise of Qcdp. 226
Relative and Absolutep. 231
Interchangeable Worldsp. 235
More Perfect Worldsp. 240
A Suggested Unityp. 247
Coda: About the Tablep. 259
Salt Minep. 261
A Little Matterp. 265
Genesis Machinesp. 279
Horizonsp. 285
Inflationp. 290
No Firm Foundationp. 303
Familiesp. 306
Dark Matterp. 315
Hidden Harmoniesp. 335
Notesp. 343
Indexp. 349
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780393305968
ISBN-10: 0393305961
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 17th April 1989
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.53
Edition Number: 1