A Brief History of String Theory

From Dual Models to M-Theory

by Dean Rickles

Series: The Frontiers Collection

During its forty year lifespan, string theory has always had the power to divide, being called both a 'theory of everything' and a 'theory of nothing'. Critics have even questioned whether it qualifies as a scientific theory at all. This book adopts an objective stance, standing back from the question of the truth or falsity of string theory and instead focusing on how it came to be and how it came to occupy its present position in physics. An unexpectedly rich history is revealed, with deep connections to our most well-established physical theories. Fully self-contained and written in a lively fashion, the book will appeal to a wide variety of readers from novice to specialist.


  • Springer Berlin Heidelberg; February 2014
  • ISBN: 9783642451287
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online, or download in DRM-free PDF (digitally watermarked) format
  • Title: A Brief History of String Theory
  • Series: The Frontiers Collection
  • Author: Dean Rickles
  • Imprint: Springer

In The Press

“Certainly any historian wishing to deal with thissubject matter in the future will take this pioneering work as a startingpoint. Indeed, the book offers a multitude of such starting points, offering aquestion worthy of a dissertation on almost every page. … an indispensablecompendium for anybody interested in tackling this difficult and importantsubject.” (Alexander Blum, ISIS, Vol. 106 (4), December, 2015)

“This is a good textbook tracing the origin of string theory in physical scientific studies. … This book will be of great value to physicists at all levels of training, including graduate students and postdocs. It is a milestone in historical research.” (Joseph J. Grenier, Amazon.com, July, 2015)

“This is a worthwhile and enjoyable book, full of interesting details about the development of one of the main research areas of theoretical physics. It appears to be most useful to scientists educated in related fields, and I would even say that it should be a mandatory read for young colleagues entering research in string theory.” (Wolfgang Lerche, CERN Courier, September, 2014)

“Amazing book! First book that covers the history of the String Theory. It is one of the best book published this year. I highly recommend it to you!” (Philosophy, Religion and Science Book Reviews, bookinspections.wordpress.com, May, 2014)

“While I’ve spent a lot of time in the past reading about much of this history, I learned a lot from the book, about string theory as well as other topics in particle physics that interacted with it. I’m strongly of the opinion that if you want to really understand a subject, you need to understand its history, so anyone who wants to really master string theory would do well to spend some time with this book.”(Not Even Wrong, math.columbia.edu/~woit, March, 2014)


About The Author

Dean Rickles is associate professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney. He specialises in the history and philosophy of quantum gravity and has published extensively in this area. He has authored or edited several books including: The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (coedited with S. French and J. Saatsi: Oxford University Press, 2006); Symmetry, Structure, and Spacetime (Elsevier, 2007); The Ashgate Companion to Contemporary Philosophy of Physics (Ashgate, 2008); and The Role of Gravitation in Physics: Report from the 1957 Chapel Hill Conference (Co-edited with Cecile DeWitt: Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge, 2011).