Fearful Symmetry brings the incredible discoveries of contemporary physics within everyone's grasp. A. Zee, a distinguished physicist and skillful expositor, tells the exciting story of how today's theoretical physicists are following Einstein in their search for the beauty and simplicity of Nature. Animated by a sense of reverence and whimsy, Fearful Symmetry describes the majestic sweep and accomplishments of twentieth-century physics. In the end, we stand in awe before the grand vision of modern physics – one of the greatest chapters in the intellectual history of humankind.
"Zee's exposition of the intuitive use by modern theoretical physicists of the concept of symmetry [...] in order to fathom nature's laws is superb scientific reading."
– Publishers Weekly
"[Zee] demonstrates effortless competence over a wide area of theoretical physics. He also displays great enthusiasm and excitement for his subject, which many readers will find infectious."
– James W. McAllister, ISIS
"Fearful Symmetry tells the story of modern physics and contemporary physicists in a most understandable and vivid way. It makes the 'fearful' symmetry simple and accessible, and the burning tigers lively and human. An excellent rendition and an outstanding achievement."
– T. D. Lee, Nobel Prize–winning physicist
"To a layman like myself, totally unversed in modern theoretical physics, Zee's book comes as an illumination. Once having grasped the idea of symmetry as an aesthetic and intellectual principle, I found myself, under his guidance, contemplating aspects of the design of the universe of which I never had the faintest glimmer."
– John Rupert Martin, Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
"A small gem we can see deeply into with small effort and great pleasure."
– Robert Schrieffer, Nobel Prize–winning physicist
Preface 1999 xi
I SYMMETRY AND DESIGN 1
1. In Search of Beauty 3
2. Symmetry and Simplicity 8
3. The Far Side of the Mirror 22
II EINSTEIN'S LEGACY 49
4. Marriage of Time and Space 51
5. A Happy Thought 76
6. Symmetry Dictates Design 95
III INTO THE LIMELIGHT 101
7. Where the Action Is Not 103
8. The Lady and the Tyger113
9. Learning to Read the Great Book 122
10. Symmetry Triumphs 133
IV TO KNOW HIS THOUGHTS 151
11. The Eightfold Path in the Forest of the Night 153
12. The Revenge of Art 185
13. The Ultimate Design Problem 210
14. Unity of Forces 228
15. The Rise of Hubris 255
16. The Mind of the Creator 275
Appendix to Chapter 9 297
Appendix to the Afterword 301
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A. Zee is professor of physics and a permanent member of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell.