...Prove Their Worth...

"Problems worthy of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back." - Piet Hein

A kind of running diary and rambling pieces on my struggles with assorted books, classes, and other things, as they happen. You must be pretty bored to be reading this...

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Subtle is the Lord. It's the title of a book I've got to read someday, and it's also the first thing (after a suitably earthy expletive) that came to my little atheist mind today when I learned that the right-hand-rule of electromagnetism is a crock. According to sources I trust, if one does electromagnetism properly, using differential forms and other relatively modern mathematical objects, the right hand rule isn't needed. The right-hand-rule has always bothered me - it seemed capriciously random, and while I knew you could get an equivalent picture using a left-hand-rule, the very idea that one had to pick one bothered me.

I have got to learn about this stuff. But, I can't pick a book to use. Right now, it's between Frankel's Geometry of Physics, Baylis's Electrodynamics: A modern approach (uses clifford algebra to do stuff), and John Baez's Knots, Gauge Fields, and Quantum Gravity. The book I really want to use is Baez's, but I'm scared, because the title is very intimidating, I've never actually seen it, and I'm afraid I'd immedeatly drown in it. But then again, I've heard the prerequisites aren't too heavy. Damn.

Hmm. Heh, I might have to pester Prof. Baez in a newsgroup for the answer - it was one of his posts that clued me into all this in the first place...


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