Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"In search of perfection": Review of Quantum Mechanics: Symbolism of AtomicMeasurements, by Julian Schwinger (edited by Berthold-Georg Englert).Reviewed by Alasair I.M. Rae. Nature, 14 June 2001.

Schwinger shared the 1965 Nobel prize for physics with Richard Feynman andSin-Itiro Tomonaga for their invention of the theory of quantumelectrodynamics. The author notes the difference between opening a book byFeynman (in which a page is usually text with a half dozen equations) and oneby Schwinger (in which a typical page is full of mathematical equations withlittle text). The first chapter of this book sets out Schwinger'sphilosophical thoughts on the topic, which is followed by his description ofBohr's principle of complementarity, analysis of the Stern-Gerlach experiment,and treatment of the standard problems of the harmonic oscillator in one, twoand three dimensions. The reviewer concludes that the book is "an interestingexample of the way the subject was understood by one of the greatest physicistsof the last century."

--- Annette Emerson