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What papers should everyone read?

+ 20 like - 0 dislike
733 views

Mathoverflow A single paper everyone should read?

CSTheory What papers should everyone read?

TheoreticalPhysics.SE

What papers should every physicist read?

NOTES:

  • One paper per answer.
  • Please provide at least a sentence what is inside and why you consider it so worth reading.
  • Choose original papers of important basic results rather than large survey papers or "meta" paper suggestion by Gil Kalai


This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

asked Nov 24, 2011 in Resources and References by Pratik Deoghare (30 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Jan 23, 2015 by Jia Yiyang
Patrik, it is a nice soft question but consider providing the full description in the question (as there is in MO and CSTheory) as _What papers should everyone read?_ without further description is a bit vague IMHO.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Just one publication per answer? Okay, I suppose I get to spam a few answers then.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

15 Answers

+ 20 like - 0 dislike

Scientist: Four golden lessons by S. Weinberg is a must-read for physicists. Regardless of area you study, the applicability of his advice is far-reaching. That's why every physicist, especially the young, should read it.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Nov 24, 2011 by Satoshi Nawata (335 points) [ no revision ]
I added comments.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
OP specifically asks: "Please provide at least a sentence what is inside and why you consider it so worth reading."

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

There is a response to Weinberg http://www.cpom.org/people/jcrh/naturecorres2.pdf  "Sir — Steven Weinberg’s Concepts essay “Four golden lessons” (Nature 426, 389; 2003) is full of idealism, based on his experience, garnered “about a hundred years ago”.", though I don't like it.

+ 14 like - 0 dislike

This article is a must!

J.S. Bell On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox Physics Vol. 1, 3 195-200 (1964)

Because it is:

  • a milestone in the history of physics,
  • a simple argument that explain why Quantum Mechanics is different from classical intuition,
  • only 5 pages and well written.
This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Nov 29, 2011 by jonalm (0 points) [ no revision ]
+ 10 like - 0 dislike

Well, it's hard to choose just ONE, but if I had to, I thought this one was pretty amazing:

Kenneth G. Wilson, The renormalization group: Critical phenomena and the Kondo problem, Rev. Mod. Phys. 47, 773–840 (1975)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Nov 24, 2011 by madR (30 points) [ no revision ]
Free pdf version: http://prl.aps.org/files/RevModPhys.47.773.pdf

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+ 8 like - 0 dislike

I will go with:

on the topic of emergence and complexity in systems with a macroscopic number of constituents.

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answered Nov 24, 2011 by Olaf (320 points) [ no revision ]
+1 Very nice choice!

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
An interesting follow-up to this one would be [More Really is different](http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0809.0151), by Mile Gu, Christian Weedbrook, Alvaro Perales, and Michael Nielsen. They are much more concrete, and my opinion, more convincing.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
+ 6 like - 0 dislike

R. P. Feynman, Space-Time Approach to Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics, Rev. Mod. Phys. 20, 367–387 (1948)

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answered Nov 24, 2011 by JonLester (376 points) [ no revision ]
+ 5 like - 0 dislike

I like this paper because it's all of four pages long. Electroweak unification. Spontaneously broken symmetry. It's a thrilling paper to read!

Steven Weinberg, A Model of Leptons, Phys. Rev. Lett. 19, 1264–1266 (1967)

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answered Nov 24, 2011 by madR (30 points) [ no revision ]
Four pages is hardly unusual in physics.

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4 pages is hardly unusual in PRL. :)

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But this paper is three pages!

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@TsuyoshiIto: I must admit I didn't check the claim that it was 4 pages.

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+ 3 like - 0 dislike

Even tough it is not about physics, I suggest the following:

It is a short and concise list of DOs and DON'Ts when giving a talk or a lecture. And it is a pity that many scientists, despite years of frequent practice, make very simple mistakes on that issue.

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answered Nov 24, 2011 by Piotr Migdal (1,250 points) [ no revision ]
I suppose it's too much to hope that the first sentence in that document is "Use LaTeX" :-P

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+ 3 like - 0 dislike

How can one not have a desire to read some history:

Planck, Max (1901). "Ueber das Gesetz der Energieverteilung im Normalspectrum [On the Law of Distribution of Energy in the Normal Spectrum]" (in German) (pdf). Annalen der Physik 309 (3): 553–563. (1901). "On the Law of Distribution of Energy in the Normal Spectrum (in English)" (PDF). Annalen der Physik 4: 553 ff.

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answered Nov 25, 2011 by Larian LeQuella (110 points) [ no revision ]
On occasion, it is presumptuous to believe we know more than the great masters. Generally though it is far more presumptuous to assume we haven't figured anything out for our own damn selves in the past 110 years...

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What's the purpose behind reading these original papers?

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+ 3 like - 0 dislike

I would go for two of the Annus Mirabilis papers from Einstein: relativity and Brownian motion. Although the latter requires some knowledge of classical thermodynamics, it is a brilliant example of a clear mind explaining a subject.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Dec 5, 2011 by Ricardo (20 points) [ no revision ]
+ 3 like - 0 dislike

M. Gell-Mann, "The Eightfold Way: A Theory of Strong Interaction Symmetry"

It's the only one I can't get a hold of online, so it must be good.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Dec 8, 2011 by Terry Giblin (-60 points) [ no revision ]
Does any one have a copy of this paper, which they can post online or should I ask Gell-Mann, myself?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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