May 17, 2004

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman

The QED in the title stands for Quantum Electrodynamics and this is a book explaining this physical theory which underlies phenomena as diverse as heat, magnetism, electricity, light, X-rays, ultraviolet rays, indices of refraction and coefficients of refraction among other properties.

This book has the clearest descriptions and explanations of the so-called wave-particle duality that I have read. It is not as easy to read as Feynman's other book of lectures "The Character of Physical Law", however the payoff is greater as well. By the end of this book you might just get a real feeling of exactly how counter-intuitive Nature can be.

This book is a transcription of four lectures given by Feynman at UCLA to a non-expert audience. However, Feynman does not pull any punches and does not dilute the subject matter to the point that it becomes vacuous. By the end of the book, you are actually comfortable with his non-notational method of computing the probability of photon transmissions.

Feynman's style is as usual conversational and informal, although the figures and the text do not flow together very well since each figure has a detailed description of its own and it feels like it was added later as an afterthought even though the text refer to the figures often. This is perhaps a side-effect of this book being transcriptions of the original lectures.

%T QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter %A Richard P. Feynman %I Princeton Science Library %D 1985 %G ISBN: 0691083886 (hc) %G ISBN: 0691024170 (pb) %P 158 %K science, physics

Review written: 1999/07/26

Posted by anoop at May 17, 2004 02:10 AM