Introduction to Elementary Particles

Author: David Griffiths

Publisher: Wiley-VCH


Publish Date: October 13, 2008

ISBN-10: 3527406018

Pages: 470

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Introduction to Elementary Particles

This introduction to the theory of elementary particles is intended primarily for advanced undergraduates who are majoring in physics. Most of my colleagues consider this subject inappropriate for such an audience-mathematically too sophisticated, phenomelogically too cluttered, insecure in its foundations, and uncertain in its future. Ten years ago I would have agreed. But in the last decade the dust has settled to an astonishing degree, and it is fair to say that elementary particle physics has come of age. Although we obviously have much more to learn, there now exists a coherent and unified theoretical structure that is simply too exciting and important to save for graduate school or to serve up in diluted qualitative form as a subunit of modern physics. I believe the time has come to integrate elementary particle physics into the standard undergraduate curriculum.

Unfortunately, the research literature in this field is clearly inaccessible to undergraduates, and although there are now several excellent graduate texts, these call for a strong preparation in advanced quantum mechanics, if not quantum field theory. At the other extreme, there are many fine popular books and a number of outstanding Scientijic American articles. But very little has been written specifically for the undergraduate. This book is an effort to fill that need.

It grew out of a one-semester elementary particles course I have taught from time to time at Reed College. The students typically had under their belts a semester of electromagnetism (at the level of Lorrain and Corson), a semester of quantum mechanics (at the level of Park), and a fairly strong background in special relativity.

In addition to its principal audience, I hope this book will be of use to beginning graduate students, either as a primary text, or as preparation for a more sophisticated treatment. With this in mind, and in the interest of greater completeness and flexibility, I have included more material here than one can comfortably cover in a single semester. (In my own courses I ask the students to read Chapters 1 and 2 on their own, and begin the lectures with Chapter 3. I skip Chapter 5 altogether, concentrate on Chapters 6 and 7, discuss the first two sections of Chapter 8, and then jump to Chapter 10). To assist the reader (and the teacher) I begin each chapter with a brief indication of its purpose and content, its prerequisites, and its role in what follows.

This book was written while I was on sabbatical at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and I would like to thank Professor Sidney Drell and the other members of the Theory Group for their hospitality.

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