Up until now the dominant view of condensed matter physics has been that of an “electrostatic MECCANO” (erector set, for Americans). This book is the first systematic attempt to consider the full quantum-electrodynamical interaction (QED), thus greatly enriching the possible dynamical mechanisms that operate in the construction of the wonderful variety of condensed matter systems, including life itself.A new paradigm is emerging, replacing the “electrostatic MECCANO” with an “electrodynamic NETWORK,” which builds condensed matter through the long range (as opposed to the “short range” nature of the usual electrostatic forces) electrodynamical interaction; this interaction creates “coherent configurations” of the elementary systems (atoms and molecules), which oscillate in phase with a coherent macroscopic (and classical) electromagnetic field that, through the strong interaction with matter, remains trapped inside it.

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