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By Ridley

ISBN-10: 0521484863

ISBN-13: 9780521484862

"There are a few splendidly weird and wonderful principles in physics, and it sort of feels a pity to maintain them locked up in small bins, on hand in basic terms to an esoteric coterie of key holders. Brian Ridley's e-book units out to survey in basic, non-mathematical phrases what physics has to claim concerning the basic constitution of the universe. He bargains with the entire easy strategies of recent physics: simple debris, black holes, gravity,  Read more...

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Example text

T his is so familiar: why bother repeating it? Because familiarity is soporific and it could have turned out quite differently, and m ay yet do so. Consider the case o f the expanding triangle, which so startled the strange world known to us as Sphereyland. The inhabitants o f Sphereyland are called Sphereys. They live in a two-dimensional world occupying the sur­ face o f a perfect sphere. In many ways their experience is the same as ours, since we also live on a globe, but unlike us they have no knowledge o f the third dimension of up-and-down.

W orse, they cannot exist as things in dependently o f their interactions w ith other particles. T h u s the electron has a charge w hich is a m easure o f its interaction with photons. T h e n-m eson has a m ass w hich is a m easure o f the range o f the strong nuclear attraction. In short, the elem entary particles cannot be put neatly into separate display cases and labelled confidently as this or that. T h eir natures are intim ately bound up with their interactions w ith one another. Interactions involve the dynam ic quantities energy and m om entum (linear and angular), and these in turn involve m ass and space and time.

Two numbers would be once again sufficient if only position and movement on the sheet is o f importance. But we know that a further degree o f freedom enters via the connectivity between adjacent folds. Each position holds three choices, so there have to be three sets o f imaginary tramlines and therefore three numbers. Thus our position on the sheet (fifty, one) four folds up becomes (fifty, one, four), a position in threedimensional space. These three numbers not only specify position but also tell us that a physical body has three degrees o f freedom o f movement.

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Time, space, and things by Ridley


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