home | literature reviews

"Samuel Beckett's Guide to Particles and Antiparticles", Brian Skinner, 2015

Reviewed October 7, 2023

Citation: Skinner, Brian. “Samuel Beckett's Guide to Particles and Antiparticles.” Ribbonfarm, 24 Sept. 2015, www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/09/24/samuel-becketts-guide-to-particles-and-antiparticles/. Accessed 7 Oct. 2023.

Web: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/09/24/samuel-becketts-guide-to-particles-and-antiparticles/

Tags: Philosophical, Expository, Pedagogical, TQFT

This is an amazing web-article (not a paper) introducing quasiparticles and quantum field theory. It does everything so amazingly, and I find myself quoting it endlessly to people when I explain quasiparticles. A beautiful piece of writing.

The name of the article comes from the following quote by author Samuel Beckett: "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness."

In its original context this is a quote about how you want to be able to say things as succinctly as possible: when editing a book, you want to get rid of as many words as possible. You want people to get the most out of the least reading possible; every word is inherently "bad", but you have to use words since otherwise you can't get any of the "good" you so desperately want.

In this context, the words are replaced by particles: "Every particle is an unnecessary defect in a smooth and featureless field", which is very apt for QFT.