Curiculum Vitae
Other Writings
Book reviews
from the
Dutch Mathematical
Book reviews
from the journal
Acta Applicandae

Book review

Author(s) Peebles, P.J.E.
Title Quantum Mechanics
Publisher Princeton University Press
Year of publication 1992
Reviewed by Paul Blaga

No doubt, the name of Phillip Peebles doesn't need any recommendation. He is well known for his important contributions to modern cosmology and, especially, for his highly regarded monographs "Physical Cosmology" (Princeton, 1971) and "The large Scale Structure of the Universe". (Princeton, 1980). This time the author offer us something else: an undergraduate / beginner graduate course in quantum mechanics (hereafter QM).

Certainly, there are many, many books on QM, so one could ask if another one could be useful to anybody. I asked myself this question and the answer is positive, as will be argued later. Firstly I ought to say that the intention of the author is to provide the students with a text situated between introductory surveys, which cannot make clear all the subjects touched and the standard treatises, which are too complicated to be read by a beginner. To return to the promised argumentation, let me take a look at the contents of the book. The first chapter is devoted to the origins of QM. This chapter is much longer than usually hapends in a textbook, because the author considers that it is very importent that the student knows how the people could hit to wave mechanics. After two "conventional chapters", dealing with the wave mechanics formalism and the Dirac braket formalism, follows one more "nonstandard" chapter, devoted to the theory of measurement, so important for the physical understanding of QM and, on the other hand, so neglected in the most of textbooks. The next three chapters contain some of the most usual applications of QM. The first aim of these applications is, here, to see in details how the computation goes, in order that the reader be sure that QM is, indeed, a powerful tool in the investigation of the physical reality. The last chapter represents an introduction to the Dirac theory of the electron. Between other characteristics, I should remark the special attention payed by the author to the art of numerical estimates. Each chapter ends with a lot of exercises and I was not surprised to discover that some of them are related to cosmological applications of QM.

The way he choose the material and the all presentation prove that Peebles is not only a remarkable scientist, but, also, an excellent teacher. This book, originated in the lectures given by the author at the University of Princeton, can be highly recommended especially to physics students, but not only. It can be useful to anyone who wants to learn QM, with a minimum of mathematics and a maximum of physics.

Some technical remarks are in order. The book is written with a TeX processor, has an index but, unfortunately,there is no list of references.