Andrew Steane

Prof Andrew M. Steane
Professor of Physics (Atomic and Laser)
Fellow, Exeter College, University of Oxford.

Department of Atomic and Laser Physics,
Clarendon Laboratory,
Parks Road,
Oxford OX1 3PU.

Lecture notes

There is a fairly substantial set of lecture notes on physics here,
including electromagnetism, quantum physics, thermal physics, atomic physics, relativity.

Oxford Physics

  • Here is the link back to my personal page at Oxford Physics.
  • The physics website is a good place to find publications lists, research group information, and things like that. Here I provide information which is mostly teaching-related or for convenience in other respects.



    The Wonderful World of Relativity---A precise guide for the general reader
    by Andrew M. Steane (Oxford University Press, 2011).

    This book provides a lively and visual introduction to Einstein's theory of relativity. It is for a readership including young people at school (post-16) and the general public with an interest in modern science. It uses many diagrams and simple equations, guiding the reader carefully through them, in order to display the beautiful insights which the theory provides. Paradoxes and puzzles are introduced and resolved, and used to show how the ideas force us to understand time in a new way. The book culminates in a thorough unfolding of the relation between mass and energy.
    Relativity made Relatively Easy
    by Andrew M. Steane (Oxford University Press, 2012).

    This presents an extensive study of Special Relativity and a gentle (but exact) introduction to General Relativity for undergraduate students of physics. Assuming almost no prior knowledge, it presents all the Relativity needed for a final year undergraduate university course, including some underpinning of other areas such as electromagneism. The aim is to make derivations as simple as possible and physical ideas as transparent as possible. Lorentz invariants and four-vectors are introduced early on, but tensor notation is postponed until needed. In addition to the more basic ideas such as Doppler effect and collisions, the text introduces more advanced material such as radiation from accelerating charges, Lagrangian methods, the stress-energy tensor, and introductory General Relativity, including Gaussian curvature, the Schwarzschild solution, gravitational lensing, and black holes.
    Faithful to Science - the role of science in religion
    by Andrew M. Steane (Oxford University Press, 2014).

    This presents the role of science in a theistic outlook on the world. It is told from the point of view of a reasonably broad engagement with theism, and aims to show what science is and is not, and how it takes its place in a wider framework. It is hoped that the book will promote a better public understanding of science, and also an understanding of human life that recognizes the integrity of high-level concepts such as love and forgiveness, no matter what may be the reader's religious commitments. Some further web-based comment from me in this area can be found at the Seen & Unseen website here.
    Thermodynamics: a complete undergraduate course
    by Andrew M. Steane (Oxford University Press, 2016).

    This is an undergraduate textbook, designed for self-study. It starts at first year level, with explanation of basic concepts such as entropy, systems and states. It develops the basic proofs that are associated with the laws of thermodynamics, and then introduces further functions such as free energy, and associated methods. There are many examples and much care has been devoted to getting the logic as clear as possible. The book takes the reader to the end of an undergraduate course, and a little beyond in some areas.
    Science and Humanity: a humane philosophy of science and religion
    by Andrew Steane (Oxford University Press, 2018).

    The main aim of this book is to reconfigure the public understanding of science. It is mostly about the structure of scientific explanation, and indeed the very notion of explanation, and how this fits with notions of value and meaning which science does not address. No area of science, whether particle physics or Darwinian evolution or brain chemistry or whatever, can in the least diminish or replace the discourse of human affairs that is undertaken in the subjects we call humanities, such as law, language, history and philosophy. I also want to expose the illogic of confusing physical causes with purposes, and to show that the natural world in general, and Darwinian evolution in particular, is not altogether unguided, because it can only explore the space of what is possible, and this is a highly structured space. Finally, I give an introduction to how theological language works when it is used carefully, and provide an answer to Hume and Dawkins. Some further web-based comment from me in this area can be found at the Seen & Unseen website here.

    General Relativity and Cosmology (Relativity made relatively easy, volume 2)
    by Andrew Steane (Oxford University Press, 2021).

    This completes my attempt to make relativity accessible to undergraduates. It is the follow-up to "Relativity made relatively easy" mentioned above. This is a more advanced book than the first one, but it is intended still to be accessible to undergraduate physics students. They would normally be in the third or fourth year of a first degree course. It can also act as a starting point for graduate study. The book first treats the linear approximation to general relativity, including precession effects and gravitational wave production and detection. Then it turns to differential geometry at a level sufficient for astronomy and cosmology. The curvature tensor and the Einstein field equation are then treated, and applied exactly to various standard cases, such as stars and black holes. Many standard problems are worked out in full. The text then turns to cosmology, and this part acts as a complete self-contained introduction to that subject. Finally there is an introduction to some other themes in classical field theory, especially spinors, the Dirac equation, and the way G.R. can itself be deduced from a Lagrangian approach.

    Just before publication I noticed the following error (apologies!): eqn (14.8) is missing a term. It should read
    μμ Aa - R Aμ = -μ0 ja
    For a complete list of errata spotted so far, please see the link below.

    Liberating Science
    The Early Universe, Evolution, and the Public Voice of Science
    by Andrew Steane (Oxford University Press, 2023).

    A display of science for the general reader, and also a cultural critique. Liberating Science ventures carefully and eloquently into two main areas—the early universe and biological evolution. The aim is to correct widely-held misconceptions and appreciate what is really going on. The result is a fresh look at where we come from. Fortunately, it is a more liberating picture than the depressingly amoral one widely disseminated in the name of science. And science itself needs to be liberated: freed from a modern attempt to claim it into private ownership in cultural terms. We can and should reclaim our common land, not allow it to become ‘Brightland’.

    ‘... can be read with profit by an intelligent sixth-former, the interested general reader and by specialists, all of whom will find much here that is insightful and thought-provoking.’ Professor Michael J. Reiss, Professor of Science Education, University College London

    ‘... clear, logically rigorous and highly accessible. A book that needs to be, and surely will be, widely read.’ Dr Iain McGilchrist Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, author, The Master and His Emissary

    ‘Insightful, upbuilding, and potentially transformative.’ Prof Hans Halvorson Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University

    Errors in my books

    Click here for a pdf document listing errata of which I am aware.




    Graph theory, Shannon game and Hex

    Short biography