Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you aren’t shocked by quantum theory, you don’t really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves.
In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution, focusing on the central conflict between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality and the soul of science. This revelatory book takes a close look at the golden age of physics, the brilliant young minds at its core, and how an idea ignited the greatest intellectual debate of the 20th century.
Manjit Kumar was the founding editor of Prometheus, an arts-and-sciences journal. He has written and reviewed for various publications, including the Guardian, and is a consulting science editor at Wired UK. He lives in London.
©2008 Manjit Kumar (P)2010 Blackstone Audio
“Lively…A wide-ranging account, written for readers who are curious about the theory but want to sidestep its mathematical complexities….Fascinating.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“With vigor and elegance, Kumar…recounts this meaty, dense, exciting story, filled with vivid characters and sharp insights. With physics undergoing another revolution today, Kumar reminds us of a time when science turned the universe upside down.” (Publishers Weekly)
Reading this book allow you an broad overview about the history of physics in its golden age. This is a really worth reading book even if you don't have advanced previous background knowledge on physics.
I'm a voracious reader who unfortunately spends a lot of time on the road. Audiobooks make my life a lot better.
I agree with other reviewers who said this is not a lecture on Quantum mechanics -- thank God! It is a fascinating biographical story of things that happened, for the most part, almost a hundred years ago (or more) and are still very poorly understand and agreed upon by the brightest minds of our time. There is, in my opinion, just about the right amount of science to mix with the story. These people were amazing at the turn of the last century. There was one relatively small character in the book who had ELEVEN of his students later win a Nobel prize. You can't make this stuff up. A good read especially if you really like the history of science even more than the science itself.
l'enfer c'est les autres
Uses the personal interaction of the main discovers of quantum physics to understand physics. The book reads very excitingly due to the personalities involved. Even someone who is not fully interested in the quantum physics would enjoy the story.
Reading and listen to books for me is one of the keys to a happy life.
Love the subject matter and love the reader. What a great story and so well told. I have listen to this one already several times.
I am sorry to have to send in such a bad review. Blame should rest largely with the producer and publisher, I believe. Having given up after about 20 minutes, I really cannot judge the content of the book itself. Like any book about physics it requires some concentration, and, for me at least, the reading makes this all but impossible. The reader might be a good choice for a noir detective novel, but is a dreadful mismatch for this material. The producer apparently believes that because physics is inherently dull, the reading should be doubly dramatic. The narrator seems to have little idea of what the text is about, but dutifully places a heavy dramatic inflection on every tenth word or any word that suggests significance. Hence a word like "enormous" will receive an awestruck intonation, though it occurs in a minor descriptive aside about someone's house with an "enormous garden." The reader seems to be looking for words, any words, that can be rendered ominous, emotive, or darkly significant. To me, this utter mismatch between style and content makes it nearly impossible to concentrate or absorb any information. Nor is the text captivating enough to rescue itself. By contrast, I found the audio book "Uncertainty" to be quite good, covering roughy the same terrain. Caveat: this is, of course, one man's opinion. If others react differently I hope they will write in. I don't like to criticize unduly, but I have a limited budget and am annoyed when I spend on a dud I simply can't finish. Again, I believe this is not so much the fault of the author or even the reader, but of a producer who badly mismatched the two.
I got this book fundamentally because I find the whole “Quantum Thing” as fascinating as I find it opaque. I find myself agreeing with Einstein (even as I look at it I agree that is an absurd thing to type” that a universe where my viewing of an event materially impacts that universe makes no sense. I have survived other physics and cosmology books, even those by the inscrutable Brian Greene and was looking forwards to maybe coming to terms with the “Quantum Thing” more closely and just maybe even figuring a tiny bit of it out.
As it turns out I could have saved the time. This book gives a pretty detailed history to the evolution of the Quantum debate but ultimately it throws no more light on it than many other books without “Quantum” in their title. It’s interesting to read paragraphs where Bohr, Einstein and Geiger (yes him of the Geiger Counter) are in fierce conflict over the math, it’s always fun to watch great minds clash. Ultimately the book filled in lots of science history but left me as bemused as always. It may well just be that I’m just not smart enough to grasp the concepts so it’s perhaps not a surprise that this book left me cold, but the rather stilted historic style and lack of manageable analogies didn’t pass muster for my cat like brain.
Excellent. The author takes you into the life and times of Einstein, Bobr and others while presenting theoretical physics in a fascinating and easy to .understand manner. The narrator is perfect.
"Quantum" tells the history of quantum physics from Planck in 1900 through Aspect's experiments on Bell's Theorem in the 1980s. The story is told through the eyes of quantum physicists in their letters and conversations. Key journal articles are accurately and clearly summarized (with only brief mentions of short key equations). The content is very similar to that of "The Age of Entanglement." This one is clearer, but I read both and I'd recommend doing so if you really want to understand quantum physics and its foundations.
If you want to learn quantum physics, this is not a beginner's book. I suggest a course or self-study before tackling the level of discussion of quantum physics in this book. But, if you just want to get a general understanding of the history and people of the field, then this book should be very interesting to you.
This author, Kumar, really knows his quantum physics. I thought that he must be a physicist, but a brief Google search suggests that he's primarily a science writer. Kumar has the most thorough understanding of quantum physics with the accompanying ability to explain what he knows that I've run across. (And I've read books by Brian Greene.)
This book is superb in both content and presentation. It's really the best book on quantum physics of the eight or so that I've read.
It's a special talent who can make quantum physics both understandable AND weave a kind of scientific sleuthing in such an enjoyable and captivating history. Bravo!
This was an interesting and inclusive look at the theories of quantum mechanics and the history of the people who discovered them. I highly recommend to any one seriously interested in the history of quantum mechanics. I listened to the whole thing in 2 1/2 days. I couldn't stop listening.
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