A First Course on Symmetry, Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

The Foundations of Physics

; Saurya Das

This book provides an in-depth and accessible description of special relativity and quantum mechanics which together form the foundation of 21st century physics. A novel aspect is that symmetry is given its rightful prominence as an integral part of this foundation. Les mer
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This book provides an in-depth and accessible description of special relativity and quantum mechanics which together form the foundation of 21st century physics. A novel aspect is that symmetry is given its rightful prominence as an integral part of this foundation. The book offers not only a conceptual understanding of symmetry, but also the mathematical tools necessary for quantitative analysis. As such, it provides a valuable precursor to more focused, advanced books on special relativity or quantum mechanics.

Students are introduced to several topics not typically covered until much later in their education.These include space-time diagrams, the action principle, a proof of Noether's theorem, Lorentz vectors and tensors, symmetry breaking and general relativity. The book also provides extensive descriptions on topics of current general interest such as gravitational waves, cosmology, Bell's theorem, entanglement and quantum computing.

Throughout the text, every opportunity is taken to emphasize the intimate connection between physics, symmetry and mathematics.The style remains light despite the rigorous and intensive content.

The book is intended as a stand-alone or supplementary physics text for a one or two semester course for students who have completed an introductory calculus course and a first-year physics course that includes Newtonian mechanics and some electrostatics. Basic knowledge of linear algebra is useful but not essential, as all requisite mathematical background is provided either in the body of the text or in the Appendices. Interspersed through the text are well over a hundred worked examples and unsolved exercises for the student.

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Innholdsfortegnelse

1 Introduction 91.1 The goal of physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91.2 The connection between physics and mathematics . . . . . . . 101.3 Paradigm shifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131.4 The Correspondence Principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Symmetry and Physics 172.1 Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172.2 What is Symmetry? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172.3 Role of Symmetry in Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.3.1 Symmetry as a guiding principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182.3.2 Symmetry and Conserved Quantities: Noether's Theorem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192.3.3 Symmetry as a tool for simplifying problems . . . . . . 192.4 Symmetries were made to be broken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202.4.1 Spacetime symmetries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202.4.2 Parity violation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212.4.3 Spontaneously broken symmetries . . . . . . . . . . . . 242.4.4 Variational calculations: Lifeguards and light rays . . . 273 Formal Aspects of Symmetry 303.1 Learning outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303.2 Symmetries and Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303.2.1 Denition of a symmetry operation . . . . . . . . . . . 303.2.2 Rules obeyed by symmetry operations . . . . . . . . . 323.2.3 Multiplication tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353.2.4 Symmetry and group theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363.3 Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373.3.1 The identity operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373.3.2 Permutations of two identical objects . . . . . . . . . . 373.3.3 Permutations of three identical objects . . . . . . . . . 383.3.4 Rotations of regular polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 393.4 Continuous vs discrete symmetries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 403.5 Symmetries and Conserved Quantities:Noether's Theorem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413.6 Supplementary: Variational Mechanics and the Proof of Noether'sTheorem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423.6.1 Variational Mechanics: Principle of Least Action . . . . 423.6.2 Euler-Lagrange Equa

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