Saturday, March 14, 2015

Condensed Matter

Reading Wilczek's book, see previous post, with it's extensive analogies to superconductivity, awakened some long slumbering interest in condensed matter physics. I took a couple of courses in solid state physics when I was in graduate school, but I was a lousy student and didn't learn anything, or at least not anything much. I think my teacher was not so hot either. I add this mainly because I remember that he was famous for never answering the question you were trying to ask. At one point he made a long series of lectures prominently featuring some three index symbols that seemed to be some sorts of wave functions - but we, myself and the other grad students could never figure out what the indexes were. A couple of attempts at asking ended in his usual bafflingly obscure non-answers. So we spent the rest of the semester sitting in stunned silence.

Anyway, I ordered Mahan's Condensed Matter in a Nutshell, partly on the odd chance that I might learn something, but mostly because I really like those Princeton Nutshell books. They are well made and pretty economical, and usually written well. I already owned a dozen or so condensed matter books, but they were all old, and probably obsolete, right?

The book, naturally, is full of equations with lots of indices. I sure hope he defines them someplace.