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From Strange Simplicity to Complex FamiliarityA Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought$
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Manfred Eigen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570219.001.0001

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Matter and Energy

Matter and Energy

(p.1) 1 Matter and Energy
From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity

Manfred Eigen

Oxford University Press

“We do not really know what energy is”. This was the conclusion of Richard Feynman, who in the 20th century contributed so much to our understanding of the nature of energy. The first chapter deals in particular with its role in establishing the expression “elementary particle” – or what in various phases of our growing knowledge was so termed. Theory and experiment are described with equal emphasis. Theory includes Einstein’s special and general relativity, the two approaches to quantum mechanics by Heisenberg and Schrödinger, as well as some fundamental expansions of the theory in the second half of the 20th century, including the quantum electrodynamics “created” by Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger, Richard Feynman and Freeman Dyson, and quantum chromodynamics, a brain-child of (in particular) Murray Gell-Mann. Other new insights, up to the standard model of particle physics, are mentioned here. Some are described in depth, though without mathematical detail. Experiments that have led to fundamentally important results are described in balance with theory. All this is discussed in the context of the title of the book. A comparison with living systems shows that animate matter needs to have more complex properties than do the “strangely simple” building-blocks of inanimate matter.

Keywords:   elementary particle, relativity, quantum theory, quantum electrodynamics (QED), quantum chromodynamics (QCD), universe, symmetry, gravity, strong interactions, weak interactions, electrodynamics, unification of forces

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