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Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.

The Little Book of String Theory by Steven Scott Gubser

The Little Book of String Theory - Steven Scott Gubser

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


The Little Book of String Theory is an overview of the main ideas in string theory, written by a physics professor and string theorist.

While this book isn't meant to be a textbook and is meant to connect with the layman who is not an expert on theoretical physics, I can't help but wish it were a textbook. I need more diagrams! It is good at giving a fairly in-depth look at string theory, D-branes, quark-gluon plasma and so on, but I felt that the writing was a little all over the place. For instance, Gubser says he will explain a term or part of a theory later on in the book, but it would kind of be relevant if you explained it now. There was a lot of "Remember that I mentioned x earlier? Well, now I'm going to actually talk about it" and a lot of "This is called y. I will discuss this in chapter N."

The analogies were pretty good, I guess, but I'm not a huge fan of analogies in theoretical physics because I don't think they're necessary most of the time (sorry!).

I only wish it had more math, more diagrams/figures and a glossary at the back. I know those would kind of change the book into a textbook, but I think they really would make it helpful and conducive to learning. Especially a glossary; I know that a quark is an elementary particle and fundamental constituent of matter and that there are six types (up, down, strange, charm, bottom, top), but do the other people picking up this book? A term discussed in chapter 1 may come up in chapter 6 and it may be forgotten. Glossaries are your friend, natural/formal/social sciences!

Last thing: this book actually ends up a little dated because of the recent advancement in physics at CERN. Like, the fact that physicists have found the Higgs boson. Gubser talks about how great the LHC will be for theoretical physics and string theory, but there is no talk about the things happening at the LHC (this book was written in 2010, so there should've been at least something).

Might be a little tough for those who are delving into theoretical physics for the first time.

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