27 June 1999

The MATHEMATICA Book, Version 4, by Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram Research, Cambridge University Press 0521 643147 (£35/$49.95). Mathematica is one of the most important programs for algebraic (in contrast to numeric) calculations. It is an indispensable tool in particular for theoretical particle physicists, who use it, for example, for computing Feynman diagrams and analysing the geometry of superstring compactifications. It is also extremely useful for graphical representations of data.

One of the most convenient features is the notebook interface, which allows WYSIWYG formula editing and evaluating. The electronic notebooks are highly editable and programmable, plus they allow for hyperlinks, can contain any graphics and are easily cross-platform transportable.

Wolfram Research has now announced release 4.0 of the popular program. It offers a series of improvements, like enhancements of built-in functions, algorithms, graphic format handling, document publishing, and improvements in speed and efficiency as well as in the notebook interface. While all of these features are very welcome, the difference between the previous version, Mathematica 3.0, is nowhere near as significant as the that between Mathematica 3.0 and 2.2. One hopes that this upgrade provides a thorough fix of all of the new bugs that appeared in Mathematica 3.0. Further information is available at “”.

Wolfgang Lerche.

Accelerator Physics by S Y Lee (Indiana University), World Scientific 981 02 3710 3 (pbk US$32/£22).

This is a general, introductory text to the, by now, rather wide field of accelerator physics. Circular and linear, low- and high-energy machines accelerating electrons, protons and ions are covered. Synchrotron motion, basic collective effects and synchrotron radiation are described as well.

The book can be strongly recommended for students specializing in accelerator physics, in particular those who appreciate a detailed, formal description of beam optics design and who are likely to use tracking or optics design programs. It should also be useful as a source of reference material for the specialist.

Readers interested in self-study and engineers working on aspects connected with accelerators will probably find the book rather formal, specialized and difficult to read.

Progress in accelerators was, and still is, to a large extent stimulated by the needs of nuclear and particle physicists for higher energies, intensities, luminosities, etc. There is relatively little on these subjects. The beam­beam effect is mentioned only briefly and there is no discussion of the definition, knowledge and optimization of beam parameters of interest to users of accelerators.

The 490 pages contain an impressive amount of material and many formulae. Additional details are often given as exercises for the student.

Helmut Burkhardt.

Introduction to Superstrings and
(2nd edn) by Michio Kaku, Springer (Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics) 0 387 98589 1 (hbk $49.95).

This edition of Kaku’s book, first published in 1988, ensures the continued availability of a valuable introduction to this field, already heralded in some quarters as the physics of the 21st century. Kaku is professor of theoretical physics at the City College of the City University of New York. A prolific and respected writer of popular science (“Visions: how science will revolutionize the 21st century and beyond”; “Hyperspace: a scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps and the tenth dimension”; “Beyond Einstein: the cosmic quest for the theory of the universe” (with Jennifer Trainer)), he is also the author of Quantum Field Theory: a Modern Introduction, and hosts a successful weekly radio science programme.

Perseus reissues

This year sees some reissues in Perseus’s useful Advanced Book Classics series by prestigious authors. (The series was previously published by Addison Wesley.)

Superconductivity of Metals and Alloys by P G de Gennes 0 7382 0101 4 (pbk $35) copyright 1966.

From the author’s introductory course at Orsay, this text explains the basic knowledge of superconductivity for both experimentalists and theoreticians. These notes begin with an elementary discussion of magnetic properties of Type I and II superconductors. The microscopic theory is then built up in the Bogoliubov language of self-consistent fields. This book provides the classic, fundamental basis for any work in superconductivity.

Theory of Superconductivity
by J Robert Schrieffer 0 7382 0120-0 (pbk $35) copyright 1983.

This is considered to be one of the best introductory treatments of superconductivity and has been reprinted because of its enduring value. Based on lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, the fundamentals of the microscopic theory of superconductivity are stressed as a means of providing a framework for detailed applications of microscopic theory to specific problems. It also serves as a foundation for more recent developments.

Mathematical Methods of Physics by H W Wyld 0 7382 0125 2 (pbk $45) copyright 1976.

With supplementary material, such as graphs and equations, this text creates a strong, solid anchor for first-year students.

Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics by Bernard d’Espagnat 0 7382 0104 9 (pbk $35) copyright 1971.

This volume offers a clear and comprehensive account of the fundamental physical implications of the quantum formalism, which deals with non-separability, hidden variable theories, measurement theories and several related problems. Mathematical arguments are presented with an emphasis on simple but adequately representative cases. The conclusion incorporates a description of a set of relationships and concepts that could compose a legitimate view of the world.

Elementary Excitations in Solids by David Pines 0 7382 0115 4 (pbk $35) copyright 1963.

Based on an advanced course in the theory of solids at Illinois in 1961, this continues to fill the need to communicate the present view of a solid as a system of interacting particles that, under suitable circumstances, behaves like a collection of nearly independent elementary excitations. The author frequently refers to experimental data. Both the basic theory and the applications largely deal with the behaviour of “simple” metals, such as the alkali metals, rather than the more complicated transition metals and the rare-earths. Problems are included in most chapters.

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