We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Quantum Audiobook

Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality

Regular Price:$25.17
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (712 )
5 star
 (344)
4 star
 (253)
3 star
 (88)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
4.4 (515 )
5 star
 (282)
4 star
 (169)
3 star
 (43)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (6)
Story
4.4 (522 )
5 star
 (260)
4 star
 (202)
3 star
 (48)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Eric 05-23-13
    Eric 05-23-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    262
    46
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An absolute must read/ listen, highly engaging"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I have, it's great.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The writing, the information, the way the story is woven, and the performance are all superb


    Have you listened to any of Ray Porter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I'm not sure that I have, but he did a great job with this one.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "The great debate about the nature of reality" is pretty spot on!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 05-13-13
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 05-13-13 Member Since 2008

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    392
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    241
    188
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    20
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The most important story of the 20th century"

    Is science about being able to understand the physical world, or is it merely what we are able to say about the physical world? This is one way of framing the great question explored in this book. It's always a challenge in this kind of book to strike the right balance for the intended audience. Kumar does a fairly good job of that in terms of understandable analogies vs. mathematical formulas. Translating his formulas and tables into the audio format poses additional difficulties. I think Ray Porter does about as good a job as he could have, though I think he could have used a little more coaching on some of the mathematical phrasing. In the first half of the book, I felt Kumar paid too much attention to the human interest side of things. There's a certain style that reporters have when they are self-consciously describing people and their clothing and inferring thoughts and feelings they have no justification for. That's what it felt like. Kumar is at his best when he is talking about the questions that paved the way for further exploration, and how the various physicists challenged each other to address unexplained loopholes and paradoxes in their theorems. This really was the single most important question of the 20th century: whether there is or is not an objective reality independent of the observer. To borrow from Einstein, the rest is merely details.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Whalen Willowick, OH 04-01-13
    S. Whalen Willowick, OH 04-01-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating story about Science Icons!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it was a great story about some of the biggest names in Physics.


    What other book might you compare Quantum to and why?

    None that I can think of. It is like a historical non-fiction with scientific explanation.


    Any additional comments?

    I always wondered how some of the greatest Physicists of all time were all born and working in the same age. Also, how did they work together, was there competition? This book explains the science of early physics, what drew these men to the field of study and how they worked together. Definitely want to be science minded as the book does explore and try to explain their work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N A EAST CALAIS, VT, United States 03-18-13
    N A EAST CALAIS, VT, United States 03-18-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Interesting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend this Book to anyone interested in the ongoing Quantum research. it's a very good look/ perspective of the way and the why things came about in quantum science and still are. Really Cool


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Marshall, VA, USA 03-18-13
    Lawrence Marshall, VA, USA 03-18-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    222
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Needed this book in school"
    Where does Quantum rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Finally, after too many years many of the gaps in my understanding of quantum physics, albeit it not great, has been fillled in. And the story line on the great Physicists of the that time is well presented.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Quantum?

    Description of a meeting in the 1920's in which 19 of the 26 attendees did or would have a nobel prize.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Descriptions of electons leaping fromone level to another


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The True Quantum of Solice


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 03-18-13
    Mark 03-18-13 Member Since 2010

    Markus

    HELPFUL VOTES
    98
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    54
    34
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wasn't Able to Listen Beyond an Hour"

    I was hoping for a more engagingly told story behind the science. It was fairly tedious and I gave up on it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan 03-11-13
    Joan 03-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    195
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't let the math get in the way of a good story"
    What did you like best about Quantum? What did you like least?

    The personal lives and work of Bohr and Einstein is very good but the context of what Quantum Mechanics as compared an "observer - independent reality" is still very confusing.


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    Far to technical for an audio book. Complicated non-fiction requires charts, lists, graphics to aid in comprehension.


    Which character – as performed by Ray Porter – was your favorite?

    Quantum really does not require Ray to read "in character". Ray's reading is one of the main reasons for listening to this book.


    Do you think Quantum needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. Its about the lives of two great scientists.


    Any additional comments?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 03-10-13
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    333
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    160
    78
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    37
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "part good, part bad"

    Good book. I especially enjoyed the first half…this is the part of the history of physics that I would think peole are most familiar with…the development of the quantum theory from the late 1800s to early 1900s. At that point I was ready to give the book a 5, as it entertainingly weaves biographies of the key players with their contributions to physics in a very engaging way. Amazingly, every contributor except one (Schroedinger) made their biggest and most profound earth changing contributions when they were in their young 20s. Truly amazing history.

    Unfortunately, the book takes a turn for the worse. The 3rd of the 4 quarters of the book I found boring..it is several hours of incredibly nuanced discussion of differences of opinion between Bohr and Einstein. While this may be of interest to a theoretical physicist, as a medical scientists with an MD PhD I could not follow this. The last quarter of the book picked up a little and put some things into broader perspective, but again by this time physics is so ethereal, mathematical, and without any way to conceptualize what is being described, that I found it difficulty to follow and understand. The denouement is good as it describes the fading into the background of all these great scientists.

    On other thing that bugged me is that some stuff is completely over stated. For instance at one point the author claims that the most striking scientific discovery from 1964 is (I cannot remember the specifics now) a finding that validated Bohr’s quantum approach. I bet if you talked to anyone who is not a theoretical physicist, they would think that one of the other discoveries from the year which he lists as examples have had more impact on our lives.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie McMeekin Arlington Heights, IL, US 02-28-13
    Maggie McMeekin Arlington Heights, IL, US 02-28-13 Member Since 2012

    I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating look at the physicists behind quantum"
    Any additional comments?

    This was a fantastic book, revealing many fantastic insights into the lives of the physicists that shaped quantum physics, as well as explaining quantum physics in and of itself. We see the development of the periodic table, development of the understanding of atomic structure, and details about the borderline philosophical debates that Bohr and Einstein had regarding the quantum.

    What really made it an amazing listen is, of course, the great narration and the fact it is written very well, with not too much physics, so it never feels like a dry recitation of a textbook. It wows you and makes you realize how much you're learning as it unveils physics concepts, then mixes it up entirely by going into the private lives and personalities of the physicists. You find yourself liking some more than others, or even surprised by how wild some of their lives were - like Schrodinger's sexual exploits, hehe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David M. Kruger West Hartford, CT USA 01-12-13
    David M. Kruger West Hartford, CT USA 01-12-13 Member Since 2011

    DoctorKilljoy

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It started well...."
    What did you like best about Quantum? What did you like least?

    The beginning was interesting and grabbed my attention


    Has Quantum turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Zombie book. It wouldn't stop. The author repeated the philosophical differences between Einstein and Bohr to the point painful boredom. OK, we got it.


    What about Ray Porter’s performance did you like?

    The performance was generally OK. At times the tone and recording settings noticeably changed. His French accent is comically bad.


    Was Quantum worth the listening time?

    The first half.. quit while you're ahead.


    Any additional comments?

    Enough already.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.