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Essays in Physics

Thirty-two thoughtful essays on topics in undergraduate-level physics

Geoffrey Brooker

16 July 2021

ISBN: 9780198857242

486 pages

Price: £59.99

Essays in Physics is a consideration of the more puzzling and exciting aspects of physics, including discussions of many errors and misconceptions in the field.



Essays in Physics is a consideration of the more puzzling and exciting aspects of physics, including discussions of many errors and misconceptions in the field.

  • Includes discussions of many errors and misconceptions in physics
  • Enhances the reader's intellectual agility and acuity by framing familiar topics in new, thought-provoking ways
  • Draws lesser known links between seemingly unrelated topics to support reader's critical thinking ability
  • Includes instructive end of chapter exercises

About the Author(s)

Geoffrey Brooker, Emeritus Fellow, Wadham College, Oxford

Geoffrey Brooker joined Wadham College Oxford as a Fellow by Special Election in 1969, becoming Fellow and Tutor in Physics and University Lecturer in Physics from 1970 to 2003, when he was awarded the title of Emeritus Fellow.

Table of Contents

    1:Electromagnetic energy
    2:Electromagnetism: microscopic and macroscopic fields
    3:Vector theorems
    4:Longitudinal and transverse waves
    5:Transmission lines, the universe and everything
    6:Counting quantum states and field modes
    7:Four-vectors in relativity
    8:The Lorentz transformation
    9:Diffraction integrals and the Kirchhoff approximation
    10:Diffraction at a slit
    11:Symmetry in quantum mechanics
    12:Successive approximation; perturbation theory in quantum mechanics
    13:The hydrogen atom
    14:Identical particles and the helium atom
    15:Helium: energies for singlets and triplets
    16:LS coupling; Hund's rules
    17:Terms in LS coupling
    18:The Zeeman effect
    19:The Einstein A and B coefficients
    20:The Boltzmann distribution and molecular gases
    21:Free energy
    22:Energy of a magnetic body: -m dB or +B dm?
    23:The Debye theory of solid-state heat capacities
    24:Umklapp collisions and thermal conductivity
    25:Electrons and holes in semiconductors
    26:The chemical potential for a semiconductor
    27:Heat capacity of electrons
    28:Electrons in a square lattice
    29:Negative feedback
    30:Stability of negative feedback
    30:Quantization of waves: the stretched string
    32:Spontaneous emission of radiation


"An intriguing and provocative addition to the standard textbooks, well written and in an informal style, providing much food for thought for teachers and students alike." - Derek Lee, Imperial College London

"It will appeal to anybody who appreciates the finer points in physics - a very useful addition to the general reading of both students and academics." - John Pierrus, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg

"This book is unique and timeless as the errors and misconceptions discussed in the Essays seem to be perpetual and eternal (until students read Brooker's book)." - Dmitry Budker, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, and University of California at Berkeley

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