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The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World | [James Kakalios]

The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World

In The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, James Kakalios uses examples from comics and magazines to explain how breakthroughs in quantum mechanics led to such technologies as the World Wide Web, pocket-sized computers, mobile phones, and MRI machines.....
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Publisher's Summary

In the pulp magazines and comics of the 1950s, it was predicted that the future would be one of gleaming utopias, with flying cars, jetpacks, and robotic personal assistants. Obviously, things didn't turn out that way. But the world we do have is actually more fantastic than the most outlandish predictions of the science fiction of the mid-20th century. The World Wide Web, pocket-sized computers, mobile phones, and MRI machines have changed the world in unimagined ways.

In The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, James Kakalios uses examples from comics and magazines to explain how breakthroughs in quantum mechanics led to such technologies.

The book begins with an overview of speculative science fiction, beginning with Jules Verne and progressing through the space adventure comic books of the 1950s. Using the example of Dr. Manhattan from the graphic novel and film Watchmen, Kakalios explains the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and describes nuclear energy via the hilarious portrayals of radioactivity and its effects in the movies and comic books of the 1950s. Finally, he shows how future breakthroughs will make possible ever more advanced medical diagnostic devices - and perhaps even power stations on the moon that can beam their power to Earth.

©2010 James Kakalios (P)2010 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A quirky but sensible explanation of quantum mechanics." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (60 )
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3.7 (31 )
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Story
3.8 (30 )
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3 star
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2 star
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  •  
    David Broken Arrow, OK, United States 12-13-10
    David Broken Arrow, OK, United States 12-13-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The exhibits are missing from Audible"

    Throughout this text, the author refers to "see figure xx" over 30 times.
    These exhibits are not available on Audible in pdf form as on other books I've purchased here.
    This audible version gives a site ( tantor.com) to visit to obtain the exhibits.
    I could not find the exhibits and tech support on the site's "contact us" support section did not help.

    The lack of these references on a technical book like this spoiled it for me.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 02-11-13
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 02-11-13 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pefect for a Physics Nut"

    I have listened to nearly all of the physics books listed in the Audible library and this one is my favorite. It could be that as I learn, these books get easier, but I really think this book is the easiest to grasp.

    The book makes some of the most difficult concepts easier to understand. Things like particle spin have had me spinning but now I get that electrons don't really spin, they have spin. They have angular momentum even though an electron is a wave---

    The book is very interesting if you like quantum mechanics. The comic tie-in gives amusing and interesting side bars to the topic.

    If you are really into physics, you'll love this book. If you don't, you probably will have a hard time with this book.

    Chris Reich, BizPhyZ

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Ossining, NY, United States 01-31-11
    Peter Ossining, NY, United States 01-31-11
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    "Not a good candidate for audiobook format"

    This was educational, but not "math-free" at all. For just one example, Planck's constant divided by two times pi cropped up about twenty times. And when the audiobook tells you to see figure 32(a) and you are on your exercise bike, you are not getting a great audiobook experience. (It's nice that the tell you where to get a PDF of the figures for the book, but some of the Figure numbers were not the same. Maybe they couldn't get permission to issue the Watchmen pages in a free PDF format.) It was okay. Not great. Thanks.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pauline Colorado Springs, CO, United States 01-11-11
    Pauline Colorado Springs, CO, United States 01-11-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Don't believe the "Math-Free""

    If you are well versed in the formulae of physics then this book will prove to be easy listening for you. I was disappointed to hear the reader plow through various strings of algebraic formulae after being thoroughly convinced in the first part of the book that the explanations would hold only the simplest examples. I guess simple is subjective. I now know that 1/2 of H is a basic part of one of Schrodinger's theories. Which part of what theory is beyond me at this point, but it was repeated regularly in the text.

    A reader who is familiar with quantum physics, its developmental history and the leading innovators will find the book basic information. I was able to keep up with the concepts and history but got thoroughly lost once the math came in. Textbook level reading, not for the non-math schooled.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty Connecticut 01-08-11
    Betty Connecticut 01-08-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics"

    This is a very good book that explains how modern technology works in terms of quantum mechanics. The book is written at a level where a knowledgeable layman can understand it; and there is a link to referenced figures. The one thing that bothers me about the book is the narration. The narrator does not know how to pronounce the specialized science words. Every time he mispronounces Shrodinger (which is often, given the nature of the book), I cringe. He apparently has never heard of an excimer laser either. It's very frustrating, and is taking away from my enjoyment of the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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