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Physics for Poets
The early editions of this book were motivated by a desire to restore some equilibrium by offering professors the oppottunity to teach the twentieth-century science they knew and loved, and the nonscience student some exposure to the revolutionary ideas of which that science was built. It was inspired by a conviction that, properly viewed and properly...
The early editions of this book were motivated by a desire to restore some equilibrium by offering professors the oppottunity to teach the twentieth-century science they knew and loved, and the nonscience student some exposure to the revolutionary ideas of which that science was built. It was inspired by a conviction that, properly viewed and properly presented, physics was a part of the humanistic as well as the scientific tradition. Today, with the demise of the Cold War as the focus around which contemporary Western society organized itself for more than four decades, the motivation for public support of fundamental research is no longer clear. More than ever, it behooves us to show yet another generation of students the human face of science. It should also be noted that the Standard Model, however successful it may have been at explaining the fleeting phenomena of the submicroworld, falls far short of the reductionist dream of stark simplicity on nature's most fundamental level. The final chapter of this work attests to that. Those who still dream that dream, which has animated physical thought for most of its modern history, seem to have entered a regime of diminishing returns on their intellectual labors. Whether this proves merely a temporary pause, or presages a major historical turning point, it is clear that much of the current science that is capable of exciting the young minds that this book is designed to reach moves along other lines. To borrow a term, these might be characterized as "C-cubed," for cosmology, chaos, and complexity. This edition introduces these topics in a modes fashion appropriate to its limited scope. Another change from recent editions is a minor upgrade in the mathematical level of the presentation, in recognition that the students currently taking this course are a bit more comfortable with numbers (but, alas, far less comfortable with history) than their predecessors.
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