Oxford Physics

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Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur
This new book by Dr. Tom Lancaster and myself will be published by Oxford University Press in April 2014. Quantum field theory is arguably the most far-reaching and beautiful physical theory ever constructed, with aspects more stringently tested and verified to greater precision than any other theory in physics. Unfortunately, the subject has gained a notorious reputation for difficulty, with forbidding looking mathematics and a peculiar diagrammatic language described in an array of unforgiving, weighty textbooks aimed firmly at aspiring professionals. However, quantum field theory is too important, too beautiful, and too engaging to be restricted to the professionals. This book on quantum field theory is designed to be different. It is written by experimental physicists and aims to provide the interested amateur with a bridge from undergraduate physics to quantum field theory. The imagined reader is a gifted amateur, possessing a curious and adaptable mind, looking to be told an entertaining and intellectually stimulating story, but who will not feel patronised if a few mathematical niceties are spelled out in detail. Using numerous worked examples, diagrams, and careful physically motivated explanations, this book will smooth the path towards understanding the radically different and revolutionary view of the physical world that quantum field theory provides, and which all physicists should have the opportunity to experience. Link.
A Very Short Introduction to Magnetism
This short introduction to magnetism is published by Oxford University Press in June 2012. The Very Short Introduction series represents a wide variety of topics in history, philosophy, religion, science, and the humanities. Magnetism is a strange force, mysteriously attracting one object to another apparently through empty space. It has been claimed as a great healer, with magnetic therapies being proposed over the centuries and still popular today. Why are its mysterious important to solve? In this Very Short Introduction, I explain why. For centuries magnetism has been used for various exploits; through compasses it gave us navigation and through motors, generators, and turbines it has given us power. I explore our understanding of electricity and magnetism, from the work of Galvani, Ampere, Faraday, and Tesla, and goes on to explore how Maxwell and Faraday's work led to the unification of electricity and magnetism, thought of as one of the most imaginative developments in theoretical physics. Link.
A Very Short Introduction to Superconductivity
This short introduction to superconductivity is published by Oxford University Press in May 2009. The Very Short Introduction series represents a wide variety of topics in history, philosophy, religion, science, and the humanities. Superconductivity is one of the most exciting areas of research in physics today. Outlining the history of its discovery, and the race to understand its many mysterious and counter-intuitive phenomena, this Very Short Introduction explains in accessible terms the theories that have been developed, and how they have influenced other areas of science, including the Higgs boson of particle physics and ideas about the early Universe. It is an engaging and informative account of a fascinating scientific detective story, and an intelligible insight into some deep and beautiful ideas of physics. Link.
Concepts in Thermal Physics
I have written a book, together with Professor Katherine Blundell, which was published by Oxford University Press in July 2006. This covers kinetic theory, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and applications in astrophysics, atmospheric physics, information theory and many other areas. An understanding of thermal physics is crucial to much of modern physics, chemistry and engineering. This book provides a modern introduction to the main principles that are foundational to thermal physics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. The key concepts are carefully presented in a clear way, and new ideas are illustrated with copious worked examples as well as a description of the historical background to their discovery. Applications are presented to subjects as diverse as stellar astrophysics, information and communication theory, condensed matter physics and climate change. Each chapter concludes with detailed exercises. Link.
Magnetism in Condensed Matter
My textbook on magnetism was published by Oxford University Press in October 2001. An understanding of the quantum mechanical nature of magnetism has led to the development of new magnetic materials which are used as permanent magnets, sensors, and in information storage. Behind these practical applications lie a range of fundamental ideas, including symmetry breaking, order parameters, excitations, frustration, and reduced dimensionality. This textbook presents a logical account of these ideas, starting from basic concepts in electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. It outlines the origin of magnetic moments in atoms and how these moments can be affected by their local environment inside a crystal. The different types of interactions which can be present between magnetic moments are described. The final chapters of the book are devoted to the magnetic properties of metals, and to the complex behaviour which can occur when competing magnetic interactions are present and/or the system has a reduced dimensionality. Throughout the text, the theoretical principles are applied to real systems. There is substantial discussion of experimental techniques and current research topics. The book is copiously illustrated and contains detailed appendices which cover the fundamental principles. Link.
Email: s dot blundell at physics.ox.ac.uk