This month’s issue of Physics Today has a review that I wrote of the book “Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur”, by Tom Lancaster and Stephen J. Blundell. I took the opportunity to give a broader view (albeit brief, given the word limit) of the landscape of books on that subject and how it has changed a lot, in a way that I think reflects some excellent changes in formal theory brought about by (at least in part) research into the many topics pulled together under the broad umbrella of string theory. As you might know from reading here and elsewhere, I’ve long been pushing for the increased application of the ideas and techniques of string theory to other areas of physics, and it has become quite the thing these days, I’m happy to see. Such research has resulted in the blurring of the boundaries between areas of theory like quantum gravity, nuclear physics, condensed matter, astrophysics, and even beyond, and an increased willingness for people in one area to learn the ideas and language of another… all in a way that is quite healthy for physics overall. This changing of the status quo needs a whole new kind of textbook, and the book under review (the image is cheekily borrowed from the authors’ website here) is one of that new kind, following in the huge footsteps of Tony Zee’s excellent “Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell”, which to my mind still remains the gold standard of this new approach.
Anyway, the review is here. In case this is behind a paywall, the verdict is that I like it, with some small reservations. It’s a really good addition to the landscape of books out there that a traveller on the road that is learning QFT should be visiting (rather than sticking to one book, which is just silly.)