Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics

Author(s): Anthony Zee

Popular Science

The concept of symmetry has widespread manifestations and many diverse applications--from architecture to mathematics to science. Yet, as twentieth-century physics has revealed, symmetry has a special, central role in nature, one that is occasionally and enigmatically violated. Fearful Symmetry brings the incredible discoveries of the juxtaposition of symmetry and asymmetry in contemporary physics within everyone's grasp. A. Zee, a distinguished physicist and skillful expositor, tells the exciting story of how contemporary theoretical physicists are following Einstein in their search for the beauty and simplicity of Nature. Animated by a sense of reverence and whimsy, Fearful Symmetry describes the majestic sweep and accomplishments of twentieth-century physics--one of the greatest chapters in the intellectual history of humankind.


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"Zee's exposition of the intuitive use by modern theoretical physicists of the concept of symmetry ... in order to fathom nature's laws is superb scientific reading."--Publishers Weekly "[Zee] demonstrates effortless competence over a wide area of theoretical physics. He also displays great enthusiasm and excitement for his subject, which many readers will find infectious."--James W. McAllister, ISIS, A Journal of the History of Science Society

A. Zee is professor of physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell and Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell (both Princeton).

Foreword xi Preface 1999 xv Preface xvii acknowledgements xix I Symmetry and Design 1 1. In Search of Beauty 3 2. Symmetry and Simplicity 8 3. The Far Side of the Mirror 22 II Einstein's Legacy, 49 4. Marriage of Time and Space 51 5. A Happy Thought 76 6. Symmetry Dictates Design 95 III Into The Limelight 101 7. Where the action is not 103 8. The lady and the Tyger 113 9. Learning to Read the Great Book 122 10. Symmetry Triumphs 133 IV To Know His Thoughts 151 11. The Eightfold Path in the Forest of the Night 153 12. The Revenge of Art 185 13. The Ultimate Design Problem 210 14. The Unity of Forces 228 15. The Rise of Hubris 255 16. The Mind of the Creator 275 Afterword 285 Appendix to Chapter 9 297 Appendix to the Afterword 301 Notes 321 Index 345

General Fields

  • : 9780691173269
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : September 2016
  • : 216mm X 140mm X 8mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Anthony Zee
  • : Paperback
  • : 539
  • : 376
  • : 10 halftones. 47 line illus.