Synopses & Reviews
The primary purpose of this textbook is to introduce students to the principles of classical dynamics of particles, rigid bodies, and continuous systems while showing their relevance to subjects of contemporary interest. Two of these subjects are quantum mechanics and general relativity. The book shows in many examples the relations between quantum and classical mechanics and uses classical methods to derive most of the observational tests of general relativity. A third area of current interest is in nonlinear systems, and there are discussions of instability and of the geometrical methods used to study chaotic behaviour. In the belief that it is most important at this stage of a student's education to develop clear conceptual understanding, the mathematics is for the most part kept rather simple and traditional. In the belief that a good education in physics involves learning the history of the subject, this book devotes some space to important transitions in dynamics: the development of analytical methods in the 18th century and the invention of quantum mechanics.
Synopsis
The short Heroic Age of physics that started in 1925 was one of the rare occasions when a deep consideration of the question: What does physics really say? was necessary in carrying out numerical calculations. In many parts of microphysics the calculations have now become relatively straightforward if not easy, but most physicists seem to agree that some questions of principle remain to be resolved, even if they do not think it is very important to do so. This situation has affected the way people think and write about quantum mechanics, a gingerly approach to fundamentals and a tendency to emphasize what fifty years ago was new in the new theory at the expense of continuity with what came before it. Nowadays those who look into the subject are more likely to be struck by unexpected similarities between quantum and classical mechanics than by dramatic contrasts they had been led to expect. It is often said that the hardest part of understanding quantum mechanics is to understand that there is nothing to understand; all the same, to think quantum- mechanically it helps to have firm mental connections with classical physics and to know exactly what these connections do and do not imply. This book originated more than a decade ago as informal lecture notes OP, prepared for use in a course taught from time to time to advanced undergraduates at Williams College.
Synopsis
A text in the classical dynamics of particles, rigid bodies, and continuous systems and corresponding aspects of quantum mechanics, emphasizing the connections and continuity between these two theories. Together with traditional topics it treats such matters as chaotic nonlinear dynamics and the difference between classical and quantum theories of continuous fields.