Friday, December 20, 2013

December 2013 New Books

In case you haven't noticed, the new books list for December 2013 has been posted here:

Included is Professor Emeritus William Friedman's book, Thinking About Equations: A Practical Guide for Developing Mathematical Intuition in the Physical Sciences and Engineering. Available online at

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best Book Lists of 2013

 Decembers usually make people look back over the past year and come up with lists.  Everyone is coming up with a list of best books for 2013.  Here is a sampling of the first lists out.  We'll post more as we find them.

 As always, we're curious about what you're reading.  What are you reading over winter break?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Librarians' Assembly 2013 Recommended Readings

RecReads2013Looking for a good book to read over Winter break?  Here's an idea -- every year all campus library staff submit their list of recommended readings from 2013.  Read more about the list here:   The complete list is available on Pinterest.  There's a lot of great reads on that list.  Check it out!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More Neutrinos!

Here are a few more titles featuring neutrinos to get you through the stress of finals.

The Physics of Neutrinos

The physics of neutrinos--uncharged elementary particles that are key to helping us better understand the nature of our universe--is one of the most exciting frontiers of modern science. This book provides a comprehensive overview of neutrino physics today and explores promising new avenues of inquiry that could lead to future breakthroughs.

Relativistic Astrophysics of the Transient Universe

In this decade, the Transient Universe will be mapped out in great detail by the emerging wide-field multiwavelength surveys, and neutrino and gravitational-wave detectors, promising to probe the astronomical and physical origin of the most extreme relativistic sources. This volume introduces the physical processes relevant to the source modeling of the Transient Universe. Ideal for graduate students and researchers in astrophysics, this book gives a unified treatment of relativistic flows associated with compact objects, their dissipation and emission in electromagnetic, hadronic and gravitational radiation.

101 Quantum Questions : what you need to know about the world you can't see

Ken Ford's mission is to help us understand the "great ideas" of quantum physics- ideas such as waver-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, superposition, and conservation. These fundamental concepts provide the structure for 101 Quantum Questions, an authortative yet engaging book for the general reader in which every question and answer brings out one or more basic features of the mysterious world of the quantum- the physics of the very small.


Neutrinos are perhaps the most enigmatic particles in the universe. Formed in certain radioactive decays, they pass through most matter with ease. These tiny, ghostly particles are formed in millions in the Sun and pass through us constantly. For a long time they were thought to be massless, and passing as they do like ghosts they were not regarded as significant. Now we know they have a very small mass, and there are strong indications that they are very important indeed. It is speculated that a heavy form of neutrino, that is both matter and antimatter, may have shaped the balance of matter and antimatter in the early universe. Here, Frank Close gives an account of the discovery of neutrinos and our growing understanding of their significance, also touching on some speculative ideas concerning the possible uses of neutrinos and their role in the early universe.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Recommendations for Particle Physics

Science writer Mike Perricone presents his favorite books on particle physics and a recommended reading list for the LHC/Higgs Era (2008 to the present) in the December issue of Symmetry Magazine.  He presents a list of recent books and give a brief summary of each one.  See the whole article here:

Here is his list with links to the catalog:
His article also has a nice recommended reading list for what he calls the LHC/Higgs era, covering 2008 to the present.

As always, if you've read any of these books we'd love to hear your thoughts.  Submit a review if you get a chance.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Titles about neutrinos featured at the Physics Library

If you've still got neutrino fever, come by the Physics Library where we've gathered together a selection of some of our best and most recent titles about neutrinos! You can even check out The Ghost Particle on DVD, an episode of NOVA about neutrinos, as well as the DVD of Morgan Wascko's talk at the Physics Colloquium in 2009, "Hunt for the Last Neutrino Mixing Angle."

All the titles can be found on our featured titled shelf near the stairs to the mezzanine. Enjoy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Neutrinos, neutrinos everywhere!

Neutrinos are in the news (see this article about UW's IceCube here in Science Magazine).  We thought we'd pull together a couple of our newer neutrino books and post them here over the next few days, just in time for Thanksgiving and that ride on the bus home.

  Darkmatter, Neutrinos, and Our Solar System
 By Nirmala Prahash.  World Scientific, 2013.
This book describes issues of dark matter, neutrinos, and the solar system in terms of links between cosmology, particle and nuclear physics, as well as between cosmology, atmospheric and terrestrial physics. It studies the constituents of dark matter first in terms of their individual structure and second, in terms of facilities available to detect these structures.

Neutrino Cosmology
By Julien Lesgourgues.  Cambridge University Press, 2013.

The role that neutrinos have played in the evolution of the Universe is the focus of one of the most fascinating research areas that has stemmed from the interplay between cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics. In this self-contained book, the authors bring together all aspects of the role of neutrinos in cosmology, spanning from leptogenesis to primordial nucleosynthesis, their role in CMB and structure formation, to the problem of their direct detection. 

Neutrino Physics 
By Kai Zuber.  CRC Press, 2012.
When Kai Zuber’s pioneering text on neutrinos was published in 2003, the author correctly predicted that the field would see tremendous growth in the immediate future. Revised as needed to be equal to the research of today, Neutrino Physics, Second Edition delves into neutrino cross sections, mass measurements, double beta decay, solar neutrinos, neutrinos from supernovae, and high energy neutrinos, as well as new experimental results in the context of theoretical models

Monday, November 18, 2013

Highlight from the New Books List: November

The new books list for November has been posted to the Physics Library website. Books will be available for checkout starting November 27, just in time to do some reading over the long holiday weekend!

Click for copies available at UW-Madison

Jishi, Radi A. Feynman diagram techniques in condensed matter physics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

A concise introduction to Feynman diagram techniques, this book shows how they can be applied to the analysis of complex many-particle systems, and offers a review of the essential elements of quantum mechanics, solid state physics and statistical mechanics. Alongside a detailed account of the method of second quantization, the book covers topics such as Green's and correlation functions, diagrammatic techniques, and superconductivity, and contains several case studies. Some background knowledge in quantum mechanics, solid state physics and mathematical methods of physics is assumed. Detailed derivations of formulas and in-depth examples and chapter exercises from various areas of condensed matter physics make this a valuable resource for both researchers and advanced undergraduate students in condensed-matter theory, many-body physics and electrical engineering. Solutions to exercises are made available online. --From the publisher

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday!

Copies available at UW-Madison
From the September/October 2007 new books list:
Kennefick, Daniel. Traveling at the speed of thought: Einstein and the quest for gravitational waves. Princeton, 2007.
Kennefick (Univ. of Arkansas) is the right author at the right time. He has strong connections to research in this area as well as being a historian and a very good storyteller. With the current research underway at Cal Tech's Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory, which may soon detect these waves, this is also a well-timed publication. Written for nonscientists, it tells the interesting story behind the development of gravitational wave theory. Though the subtitle mentions Einstein, this is a book about the many scientists who have struggled in this area. Kennefick not only explains the modern theory, he traces the theory's development with its controversies and personality conflicts, showing how difficult and uncertain scientific work can be. After giving a background on the history of gravitational theory before Einstein, the author explains how general relativity leads to the prediction of gravitational waves. This is done by tracing the theoretical controversies and detailing the problems with experimental detection. An impressive book, in that Kennefick thoroughly covers the material and still keeps it at a level that should be accessible to all readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.
--E. Kincanon, Gonzaga University (From Choice Reviews, September 2007; vol 45, no. 1.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Wisconsin Book Festival

The Wisconsin Book Festival in partnership with Madison Public Libraries kicks off this weekend. This year's festival combines local voices with nationally-known authors in a variety of community based activities and talks. Programs will uphold the Madison Public Library's mission to learn, share, and create. The festival is an opportunity for people to come together from across Wisconsin in celebration of books, reading, and ideas.

The Wisconsin Book Festival's offerings are sure to peak the interest of readers everywhere.

Check out the full schedule, including venues, dates, and times at The Wisconsin Book Festival website,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Copies available at UW-Madison
From the November 2004 New Books List:

Bernstein, Jeremy. (2004). Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. 

"The author of this fascinating book on one of the US's preeminent scientist-administrators of the 20th century is himself a respected physicist and noted essayist for the New Yorker. J. Robert Oppenheimer became famous for directing the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, which developed the atomic bomb. Later he headed the world-renowned Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, which had on its faculty the world's most famous scientist ever, Albert Einstein. Bernstein writes engagingly and with much personal knowledge (having also served at the Institute under Oppenheimer). He recounts Oppenheimer's eclectic life as it evolved in the US through his education and service at several prestigious institutions. There are absorbing vignettes, some sad and others enlightening, of several well-known individuals, mostly scientists, whose lives intersected with Oppenheimer's. The book is not a review of Oppenheimer's contributions to physics or the development of the atomic bomb; rather, it provides insight into the human side of a brilliant individual, all things considered. Of course, his leadership of the Manhattan Project, and his persecution by Congress for alleged communist sympathies, defined Oppenheimer's career. Bernstein provides personalized insights into both. Excellent endnotes; good index; rare photographs." -- as reviewed by N. Sadanand in CHOICE Reviews, Sept. 2004

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: The Darkness That Comes Before

R. Scott Bakker’s The Darkness that Comes Before is fantasy for the thoughtful, and those tired of standard fantasy tropes (boy meets wizard, finds magic sword, defeats dark lord) will likely find much to appreciate. The novel is the first book in a three-part series, focusing on an unfolding religious war in a fantasy world that seems loosely based on southern Europe in the early middle ages. Like other recent epic fantasy novels, the events portrayed happen on an enormous scale, told through the lens of a cast of characters on different sides of the conflict. Unlike other fantasy, Bakker doesn’t stop at weaving a gripping story, but also uses his world to ask some powerful questions.

Bakker has a background in philosophy, and it shows in his work. There are layers in The Darkness that Comes Before to be unpacked by the discerning reader. For example, the first introduced protagonist is a monk of an order dedicated to understanding the relation between cause and effect. After leaving his secluded monastery, this character soon finds that he understands cause and effect well enough that, by learning the motivations of the people around him, he can almost completely control their actions. However, when he encounters sorcery for the first time, something he was never taught to understand, he can only run. Though Bakker never explicitly states it, he seems to be questioning the role of free will, both in the face of god-like beings and charismatic leaders. Even the more standard fantasy elements have a decidedly philosophical nature. While there is magic in The Darkness that Comes Before, it is based on philosophical abstractions – the most powerful sorcerers are those who can create abstract points, lines, and curves out of energy, while second-rate schools of sorcery must rely on metaphors, such as conjuring a dragon’s head in order to create flame.

The world that Bakker constructs is uneasy; nations shift and chafe against each other, religions quarrel, monarchs scheme, rival schools of sorcerers debate all-out war, and the main characters of the story are caught in between. Underlying everything is the constant uneasiness of an impending apocalypse, which some characters feel, and others chose to ignore. Every faction has an agenda, and while certain characters (and creatures) may rightfully be called “evil,” there are no groups or individuals one could easily label as “good” – certainly not the protagonists.

The novel is a challenging read. The main characters are scattered and disjoint for the first two-thirds of the book, and the plot doesn’t quite come together until the last third. This was deliberate on the part of Bakker, since his series is so epic in scope that he needs that time just to properly set up his world. His books also lack any form of strong female characters. This (according to Bakker) seems to be a deliberate statement, both about the fantasy genre and about the social role of women within the time period of the book. To many, however, the book will come off as sexist. The names of his settings are long, and complex, and difficult to pronounce, even in one’s head. Like Tolkien before him, it seems that Bakker has gone to the trouble of creating is own language(s) to flesh out his story. Bakker also pulls no punches when it comes to the cleanliness of his world. Unlike Tolkien’s or Terry Brooks’ work (where everything is clean, and characters either seem to get scratches or mortal wounds) Bakker’s world is never a clean, neat place. When armies march, there is bickering, and filth, and starvation, and disease. When the main characters are wounded, mentally or physically, there is never a magic potion that makes them all better. There is sex and violence, often graphic. For those who have read a great deal of standard fantasy, this comes as a refreshing change, but many may find it to be a turn-off.

That said, I really cannot recommend this book enough. The best books, fantasy or otherwise, are those that make us think, and The Darkness that Comes Before does exactly that. It’s fantasy with layers of philosophy, or perhaps philosophy with a veneer of fantasy. Bakker uses a gripping story to ask powerful questions, and really, what more could one want?

Submitted by Tor Odden

Monday, October 7, 2013

Highlights from the New Books List: October

Copies available at UW-Madison
Morus, Iwan Rhys. (2005). When physics became king. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

"Making physics the king of the sciences required more than simply producing powerful theories. It meant convincing people that the theories were true, that physics was the best way of finding out the truths of nature, and that such knowledge was important to society. [...]

Against the background of the changing status of the field, Morus explores the ideas, institutions, and settings through which a new and international discipline was forged. He demonstrates that the rise of physics as an uncompromising discipline was accompanied by the strenuous efforts of physicists to define the field's social roles. [...]

A few good histories of physics during that remarkable age exist [the 19th century] — but none as readable or comprehensive as Morus's superb book." -- Robert M. Brain, as reviewed in Physics Today, April 2006, p. 67

Copies available at UW-Madison
 Gribbin, John. (2013). Erwin Schrödinger and the quantum revolution. Hoboken: Wiley. 

"In his latest book, Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution, prolific science writer John Gribbin tells a fascinating tale of scientific endeavour starring Schrödinger -- a man as complex and unpredictable as the phenomena he studied. As the major players in the book show, the Germanspeaking world dominated science in the first half of the 20th century, and nowhere more so than in quantum physics.

From Max Born to Ludwig Boltzmann, Friedrich Hasenöhrl to Werner Heisenberg, Gribbin expertly elucidates the relationships and discoveries that shaped Schrödinger's thoughts, including his lengthy correspondence with Albert Einstein, which led to the famous cat-in-the-box thought experiment in 1935.

Yet what sets Gribbin's book apart is the elegance with which it delivers a simple but neglected truth: that each of us is a product of our times. Gribbin addresses the myriad forces which shape both the process of scientific discovery and those making the discoveries. From the fortunes of nations to the work of peers, political ideologies to romantic affairs and religious convictions, he deftly identifies the influences that sculpted Schrödinger and his pivotal role in the quantum revolution.

Anyone wishing to dip their feet in the muddy waters of quantum physics will enjoy this scientific soap opera. But it should be required reading for those eager to understand how the process of scientific discovery really works." -- Andrew Purcell, as reviewed in New Scientist, Vol. 213, Issue 2858 (2012).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Highlights from the New Books List: September

Copies of this title available UW-Madison
Livio, Mario. (2013). Brilliant blunders: Colossal mistakes by great scientists that changed out understanding of life and the universe. New York: Simon & Schuster.

"At last we have a book specifically devoted to scientific mistakes: Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein—Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. Its author, astrophysicist Mario Livio, chooses only five from the many available classic “blunders”: mistakes made by Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein.

Livio’s title and subtitle are worth pondering. Are the mistakes he writes about truly “brilliant”? Isn’t “colossal” a bit over the top? Are they even “blunders,” or are they justifiable and well-motivated ideas that just happened to turn out wrong? Concentrating on five examples gives Livio the opportunity to explore them and their scientific importance in detail. His extensive, 21-page bibliography is evidence of his thorough research. [...] One strength of Livio’s book is its argument that, despite the title, scientific mistakes are seldom blunders at all. They are complex manifestations of human psychology in the context of the prevailing scientific knowledge of the time. Livio concludes each essay with speculations about the mistakes from the perspective of our present knowledge of how the brain works. Some readers may consider those ruminations pop psychology. In any case, skipping them won’t diminish the value of the rest of the book. [...] For someone who wants the whole story, Livio’s book is a page turner."  -- Donald Simanek, Emeritus professor of physics, Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania. (Excerpts from review in Physics Today, 66.8 (2013): p. 48.)

Copies of this title available at UW-Madison
Gerry, Christopher and Kimberly Bruno. (2013). The quantum divide: why Schrödinger's cat is either dead or alive. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"The burgeoning fields of quantum computing, information processing and simulation develop rapidly as a consequence of theoretical insight and technological developments. The latter have enabled us to take single atoms or ions and count single photons, and many of the thought experiments discussed in earlier treatments of quantum physics have now been conducted in laboratories. This lucid account by Gerry and Bruno presents a mature discussion of the link between the microscopic quantum and the macroscopic classical worlds and will be useful for professional physicists, students and the educated layman." -- Ifan Hughes, Department of Physics, Durham University (from dust jacket)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Copies of this title available at UW-Madison
From our February 2006 new books list: 

Farrell, John. (2005). The day without yesterday:
Lemaître, Einstein, and the birth of modern cosmology. New York: Thunder's Mouth.
The development of the big bang theory of the universe owes much to the young Belgian Catholic priest Georges Lemâitre, who was the first person to realize that Einstein's theory of general relativity predicted an expanding universe. Lemâitre was among the first to apply observed astronomical data to the cosmological solutions of general relativity, and he pioneered the notion that the universe as a whole was a coherent entity whose evolution lent itself to scientific study. Farrell offers a very readable account of the history of theories of the universe in the 20th century, intertwined with an intellectual biography of Lemâitre. Farrell does an excellent job of explaining in lay terms the content and underpinnings of the debate among Einstein, Eddington, Hubble, Hoyle, Lemâitre, and others regarding the implications of general relativity for our understanding of the universe. This debate is all the more interesting because it began at a time when scientists were just beginning to recognize the structure and extent of the observed universe. -- A. Spero (CHOICE Reviews, May 2006)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: The Girls of the Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Kiernan, D. (2013). The girls of Atomic City: The untold story of the
women who helped win World War II. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. 
Using extensive interviews and a variety of other primary sources, Denise Kiernan reveals the history of the government-created town of Oak Ridge, TN, where uranium was enriched to create the world’s first nuclear weapon.  At its peak, the town had more than 75,000 workers living there, most of them young women, and in order to protect the secrecy of the project, nearly all of them had absolutely no knowledge of the project.  The government merely explained that they were working on something that would help end the war, and indeed they did.  

It’s a fascinating read: Denise Kiernan is able to balance the minutiae of life in Oak Ridge with the broader social and political issues at hand, and she also explains the science involved in a way that accessible and absorbing.  The book is really at its finest when it discusses the complicated emotions of guilt, fear, and pride that the women (as unknowing participants) felt after learning about the true purpose of the project and its consequences.

Submitted by Katie Kiekhaefer

Listen to an interview with the author on

Copies of this book at UW-Madison Libraries 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reading makes you nicer -- and smarter!

Like to read fiction and literature?  I do.  Lots of people look askance at recreational reading, especially fiction.  Not so fast!  A recent article at reports the following:
"Gregory Currie, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham, recently argued in the New York Times that we ought not to claim that literature improves us as people, because there is no “compelling evidence that suggests that people are morally or socially better for reading Tolstoy” or other great books.
image of UW graduateActually, there is such evidence. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, reported in studies published in 2006 and 2009 that individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective. This link persisted even after the researchers factored in the possibility that more empathetic individuals might choose to read more novels. A 2010 study by Mar found a similar result in young children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their “theory of mind,” or mental model of other people’s intentions.
“Deep reading” — as opposed to the often superficial reading we do on the Web — is an endangered practice, one we ought to take steps to preserve as we would a historic building or a significant work of art. Its disappearance would imperil the intellectual and emotional development of generations growing up online, as well as the perpetuation of a critical part of our culture: the novels, poems and other kinds of literature that can be appreciated only by readers whose brains, quite literally, have been trained to apprehend them."
Read the rest of the article at

And, in a related note, read this editorial from a student in the Daily Cardinal, "I Dare You to Read This Entire Thing," where she talks about her generation's inability to read at any depth.

Photo image courtesy of UW Archives.  "(UW) Graduate with stack of books, ca.1951"  (UW.uwar00889.bib)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Go Big Read 2013: A Tale for the Time Being

The book selected to be the Go Big Read Book for 2013, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker prize.

A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, is now available at the Physics Library and other campus libraries near you.  Find it now in a campus library.  

From the publisher's website:
“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Throwback Thursday

From our August 2007 new book list!

Copies of this title available at UW-Madison Libraries
Stewart, I. (2007). Why beauty is truth: a history of symmetry. New York: Basic Books. 
Although symmetry is a key idea that has long been important to artists, architects, and musicians, it has only recently moved to center stage in mathematics. Stewart (Univ. of Warwick) provides a very readable narrative of the mathematicians who brought about this change and how the mathematical structures and tools of symmetry, especially group theory, have become integral parts of relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory, and modern cosmology. In fundamental physics, it may even be the case that the possible structures of space-time and matter are determined by their symmetries. Throughout his account, Stewart keeps returning to his assumption, "Mathematical beauty is expected to be a prerequisite for physical truth," and how the notion of symmetry makes this possible.  -- R. M. Davis, emeritus, Albion College (CHOICE Reviews October 2007).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Highlights from the New Book List: July/August

Books from this list are already available for checkout. Here is just a small sample of what the library has recently acquired:

Click here to see copies available at UW-Madison Libraries
Huth, J. E. (2013). The lost art of finding our way. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press. 

Humanity's lust for exploring terra incognita shaped and tested our prodigious capacity for mental mapping. Now, with the advent of the Global Positioning System, wayfaring skills are on the wane. Physicist John Edward Huth turns explorer in this rich, wide-ranging and lucidly illustrated primer on how to find yourself in the middle of somewhere. Huth's prescription for navigating fog, darkness, open ocean, thick forests or unknown terrain rests first on harnessing compass, Sun and stars; then on the subtleties of weather forecasting and decoding markers such as the wind, waves and tides. -- Nature 2013-05-02

Click here to see copies available at UW-Madison Libraries

Schewe, P. F. (2013). Maverick genius : the pioneering odyssey of Freeman Dyson.

"A compelling biography of a true renaissance man: Freeman Dyson, an iconoclastic scientist who writes like a poet and has stirred controversy over his views on climate change. By masterfully intertwining the multiple threads of Dyson’s life, this book has become a tapestry that illustrates the complexity of a passionate genius who cares deeply about the fate of humanity and has made major contributions to quantum physics, advanced mathematics, nuclear arms control, national security, and the reconciliation between science and religion."  
--Charles D. Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists and author of Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know  

Click here to see copies available at UW-Madison Libraries
Zangwill, A. (2013). Modern electrodynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

An engaging writing style and a strong focus on the physics make this comprehensive, graduate-level textbook unique among existing classical electromagnetism textbooks. Charged particles in vacuum and the electrodynamics of continuous media are given equal attention in discussions of electrostatics, magnetostatics, quasistatics, conservation laws, wave propagation, radiation, scattering, special relativity, and field theory. Extensive use of qualitative arguments similar to those used by working physicists makes Modern Electrodynamics a must-have for every student of this subject. In 24 chapters, the textbook covers many more topics than can be presented in a typical two-semester course, making it easy for instructors to tailor courses to their specific needs. Close to 120 worked examples and 80 applications boxes help the reader build physical intuition and develop technical skill. Nearly 600 end-of-chapter homework problems encourage students to engage actively with the material. -- Publisher description

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Copies available at UW-Madison
From our August 2004 new book list!

Staley, K. W. (2004). The evidence for the top quark: objectivity and bias in collaborative experimentation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

This book by a philosopher about physics is a study of the way "big science" is done in large collaborations at high energy physics laboratories. These groups provide a good opportunity for philosophers to examine the scientific evidence and scientific reasoning used. Staley (philosophy, Saint Louis Univ.) focuses on the so-called CDF collaboration at Fermilab, which eventually grew to 450 members, and on a paper published by the collaboration early in the search for the top quark, the last of the G quarks of the standard model of particle physics. He uses all available technical publications and countless interviews with collaboration members to report on and analyze the many technical decisions involved in building the detector and, finally, the decisions made on how to use this huge and complicated detector to best obtain evidence for the existence of the top quark. He also gets involved in the statistical validity of the data and possible sources of bias. The discussion of the personalities, politics, and funding as well as the science should make this book interesting to a diverse group of people including historians, philosophers, physicists, and well-informed nonscientists. Extensive notes. 
 -- As reviewed by R. L Stearns, CHOICE Reviews, November 2004.