Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this book is simply the insight into how a theoretical physicist thinks
"Whether you’re heading in that direction yourself and want a taste of what’s ahead, or you’re an experimental/computational physicist who just wants to see what those theorists are up to, you’ve got to admire the dedication and enthusiasm Anthony Zee takes in his work on quantum field theory."
From a review published in Canadian Undergraduate Physics Journal by Fraser Turner
I’ve always been interested in popular books on physics. Ideas such as black holes and invisible curled-up dimensions stir the imaginations of thousands curious about the universe. With their interest piqued, many want to learn more about these concepts and their implications, but in doing so, they often hit a brick wall in the form of the massive tomes required to understand these complex topics. This is how Anthony Zee started as a student; however, he was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of Franz Mandl’s Quantum Field Theory, which is accessible enough to provide an introduction to quantum field theory, and yet technical enough to allow him to tackle the other standard texts of the time.
Following in Mandl’s footsteps, Zee wrote Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell to bring students up to date with the incredible growth of quantum field theory over the past few decades. With a breezy tone and plenty of humorous anecdotes, he covers pieces of a diverse collection of topics as opposed to providing a comprehensive study of the subject. He employs relatively simple and specific cases without relentless generalizations. Moreover, he is also very clear in terms of his notation and is particularly careful to warn the reader of any notation changes he does adopt for simplicity.
The first two parts of the text introduce the physical principles and mathematical techniques behind quantum field theory. Parts 3 and 4 extend the discussion to the physical arguments that relate the predictions to reality. In the next two sections, Zee shows that quantum field theory is not simply restricted to particle physics by connecting those field theories to a variety of topics in condensed-matter physics, from ferromagnets to superfluids. For the finale, Part 7 tackles the unification of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces, finally incorporating gravity in Part 8. The last few pages also touch on string theory.
While this text is written for a graduate level quantum course, a properly supervised senior undergraduate could use this text in a directed study course.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this book is simply the insight into how a theoretical physicist thinks. Whether you’re heading in that direction yourself and want a taste of what’s ahead, or you’re an experimental/computational physicist who just wants to see what those theorists are up to, you’ve got to admire the dedication and enthusiasm Anthony Zee takes in his work on quantum field theory.