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Many regard Albert Einstein as the greatest physicist since Newton. What exactly did he do that is so important in physics? We provide an introduction to his physics at a level accessible to an undergraduate physics student. All equations are worked out in detail from the beginning. Einstein's doctoral thesis and his Brownian motion paper were decisive contributions to our understanding of matter as composed of molecules and atoms. Einstein was one of the founding fathers of quantum theory: his photon proposal through the investigation of blackbody radiation, his quantum theory of photoelectric effect and specific heat, his calculation of radiation fluctuation giving the first statement of wave-particle duality, his introduction of probability in the description of quantum radiative transitions, and finally the quantum statistics and Bose-Einstein condensation. Einstein's special theory of relativity gave us the famous E=mc2 relation and the new kinematics leading to the idea of the 4-dimensional spacetime as the arena in which physical events take place. Einstein's geometric theory of gravity, general relativity, extends Newton's theory to time-dependent and strong gravitational fields. It laid the ground work for the study of black holes and cosmology. This is a physics book with material presented in the historical context. We do not stop at Einstein's discovery, but carry the discussion onto some of the later advances: Bell's theorem, quantum field theory, gauge theories and Kaluza-Klein unification in a spacetime with an extra spatial dimension. Accessibility of the material to a modern-day reader is the goal of our presentation. Although the book is written with primarily a physics readership in mind (it can also function as a textbook), enough pedagogical support material is provided that anyone with a solid background in introductory physics can, with some effort, understand a good part of this presentation.
Ta-Pei Cheng is a particle physics theorist. He received a PhD from Rockefeller University with the noted physicist and Einstein biographer Abraham Pais. He is the author of Relativity Gravitation and Cosmology - A Basic Introduction, as well as the coauthor (with LF Li) of Gauge Theory of Elementary Particle Physics. Both were published by Oxford University Press. He is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Table of Contents
Part I : Atomic nature of matter
1. Molecular size from classical fluid
2. The Brownian motion
Part II : Quantum theory
3. Blackbody radiation: From Kirchhoff to Planck
4. Einstein's proposal of light quanta
5. Quantum theory of specific heat
6. Waves, particles, and quantum jumps
7. Bose-Einstein statistics and condensation
8. Local reality and the Einstein-Bohr debate
Part III : Special relativity
9. Prelude to special relativity
10. The new kinematics and E = mc2
11. Geometric formulation of relativity
Part IV : General relativity
12. Towards a general theory of relativity
13. Curved spacetime as gravitational field
14. The Einstein field equation
Part V : Walking in Einstein's steps
16. Internal symmetry and gauge interactions
17. The Kaluza-Klein theory and extra dimensions
Appendix A: Mathematics supplements