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The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments | [Jim Baggott]

The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments

Utterly beautiful. Profoundly disconcerting. Quantum theory is quite simply the most successful account of the physical universe ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the 21st-century technology that we now take for granted. But at the same time it has completely undermined our ability to make sense of the world at its most fundamental level.
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Publisher's Summary

Utterly beautiful. Profoundly disconcerting. Quantum theory is quite simply the most successful account of the physical universe ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the 21st-century technology that we now take for granted. But at the same time it has completely undermined our ability to make sense of the world at its most fundamental level. Niels Bohr claimed that anybody who is not shocked by the theory has not understood it. The American physicist Richard Feynman went further: he claimed that nobody understands it.

The Quantum Story begins in 1900, tracing a century of game-changing science. Popular science writer Jim Baggott first shows how, over the space of three decades, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, and others formulated and refined the theory--and opened the floodgates. Indeed, since then, a torrent of ideas has flowed from the world's leading physicists, as they explore and apply the theory's bizarre implications. To take us from the story's beginning to the present day, Baggott organizes his narrative around 40 turning-point moments of discovery. Many of these are inextricably bound up with the characters involved--their rivalries and their collaborations, their arguments and, not least, their excitement as they sense that they are redefining what reality means. Through the mix of story and science, we experience their breathtaking leaps of theory and experiment, as they uncover such undreamed of and mind-boggling phenomenon as black holes, multiple universes, quantum entanglement, the Higgs boson, and much more.

Brisk, clear, and compelling, The Quantum Story is science writing at its best. A compelling look at the 100-year history of quantum theory, it illuminates the idea as it reveals how generations of physicists have grappled with this monster ever since.

©2011 Jim Baggott (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (164 )
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3.7 (113 )
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  •  
    John TORRINGTON, CT, United States 10-09-11
    John TORRINGTON, CT, United States 10-09-11 Member Since 2011

    JB

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    "Not for the Casual Reader"

    This novel is primarily about the personalities behind quantum theory rather than the science itself. When the author does tackle the subject he quickly becomes arcane and obscure. He does not possess the ability Stephen Hawking has for explaining a complex subject in a manner easily understood for the lay reader. That being said the narrator is excellent and possesses both a clear voice and a sense of captivation in the subject he is reading. This in itself makes the book work the trouble for me. But I would not recommend anyone waste their credit or money unless they are steeped in the arcane knowledge of the quantum world.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abhi Mahule San Francisco, CA, USA 08-12-11
    Abhi Mahule San Francisco, CA, USA 08-12-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Quantum mechanics time travel"

    Jim Baggot does an excellent job of the taking us on the journey of the quantum mechanics. Mike Pollock's narration is likable. Since its inception with the work of Max Planck right till the current ongoing work of Ed Witten on M-String theory, the entire spectrum is well chronicled.

    You will get the glimpses of the what went on through the minds of Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schroedinger as well as Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Dirac. The idea of Neils Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory is concretely explained. Albert Einstein's role in all this is nicely potrayed.

    The rich additions to the standard model of physics was done by next generation of physicists such as Murray Gellman, Sheldon Glashow, Richard Feynman. The concepts of quarks, Quantum Electrodynamics and Quantum Chromodynamics is vividly explained through the thoughts of these great scientists.

    The books ends with Stephen Hawking's black hole theory and the search project for the still elusive Higgs Boson - "the God particle"

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Nelson 09-17-11
    Mark Nelson 09-17-11 Member Since 2003
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    "who's the target reader?"

    This book is so complex, mathematically speaking, that no one other than a graduate level physicist is likely to understand it. This is made even more difficult in the audio format. However, the author still feels he has to explain how large a micron is and how many zeros come after the 10 in scientific notation! If you can understand this book, you don't need to listen to this book. If you want quantum theory dumbed down enough for a non-physicist to understand, there are much better books out there to listen to.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory Williamsport, MD, United States 08-20-11
    Gregory Williamsport, MD, United States 08-20-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Exploring the extremely small and extremely huge"

    Although, the title on one of the downloads is mislabeled as "40 Minutes" -- these "40 Moments" last for 15 1/2 hours in the audible format. That is a lot of listening for one credit, but worth the time if you have any interest in science, physics, space, or time. The author covers the struggles, over more than a century, to understand opposite ends of our "normal" perception of reality -- the extremely small and extremely huge -- the structure and physics of atoms and the universe. The book is well read, so you can ignore the formulas and still capture the major concepts, even if you are not a physicist. I would not have tackled this content in written form, but it was enjoyable in audio. [If you are a physicist, you might also want the hard-copy book for the references and all the formulas (which are not as simple as e = mc**2).] This book provided me an appreciation of how difficult it was (and still is) for the geniuses to figure this stuff out. I discovered that the science, which my high school and college professors often presented as "facts," ended up being "false", questionable, only one of strong competing theories or opinions, or an over-simplification of reality. However, the "final answer" is not included in the book, since it has yet to be discovered.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodolfo Miami, FL, United States 10-13-11
    Rodolfo Miami, FL, United States 10-13-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Too complex for the most readers"

    I've heard several audio books on different subjects, but this is definitely one that does not lend itself to the audio format. In addition, the subject matter is way too complex for a non-physicist (I'm an engineer and the material went over my head).

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Schmidt Mid-America 04-12-12
    C. Schmidt Mid-America 04-12-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Not for a Lay Reader"
    Would you try another book from Jim Baggott and/or Mike Pollock?

    No. I expected this to be a book for a well-educated lay reader. But a lay reader could not hope to understand the content, especially in an audio format.


    What could Jim Baggott have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This was ill-suited for an audiobook. There is much too much math here to listen to.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was workmanlike. Not much good or bad to say about it.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration. It's very tedious to listen to long equations being read out loud. And there are a lot of long equations in this book.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrative was stripped of the stories that make it fascinating and we were left with the math. A person who can understand this level of math likely already knows it. For the rest of us, there will be few who can hold these new quantitative concepts in their heads as the equations are read out loud. If you think you can and somehow you've managed to get this far in life without already knowing the book's content, then go for it. For the rest, there are many books that are much better with theory and anecdote out there. I cannot recommend this book in the audio format.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Solon, OH, United States 08-05-11
    Scott Solon, OH, United States 08-05-11
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    "In a Word, BORING"

    This is actually the first Audible book that I did not finish. I did try, but just couldn't. I don't know how this book got such a high rating. It does not translate well to an audio book as the equations and discussion need to be visualized to be appreciated. I was highly disappointed as this part of physics is most likely highly interesting and otherwise mathematically beautiful. The book also portrays some of our most intelligent and respected scientists of the last hundred years (or abouts) as a bunch of egotisitc, pedantic arguers only wanting to outdue each other by proving or disproving each other's theories. I am sure that, in reality, there was much discovery and excitement over time that really occurred, but the flow of the book makes it appear differently. Additionally, the author's use of direct quotes from letters and correspondence was annoying and disrupted the flow of the material.

    18 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 04-14-12
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 04-14-12 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Not good in Audio & not good enough otherwise"

    This really does not work in audio, and even in written format it is not a good as a good history and a good scientific introduction. The best part of this book is the epilog which I found quite interesting. The history and biography aspects of the book are quite weak, with only a sentence to two to sum up the personalities of many quite fascinating characters. The scientific explanations are also weak as they try to keep it simple yet throw in some terms that had not been mentioned yet are necessary to understand the concept. It includes a long list of hadrons which is significantly less interesting than it sounds. Nothing in this book was bad, but only the epilog was great.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy Brandon, FL, United States 08-21-11
    Troy Brandon, FL, United States 08-21-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Not the Disappearing Spoon"

    Once you have read the Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean this book is difficult to sit through. It does flow well but lacks the lyrical smoothness of the spoon. Although, I liked it and did enjoy it, it was dense.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    12-14-11
    12-14-11 Listener Since 2009
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    "For Physics majors only"

    This story could have been told in about an hour. It is not for the layman. I thought the history was interesting, but the incessant spewing of arcane physics formulae is Greek to me. I had had enough about half way through (too much, really) and quit listening out of sheer boredom.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Adrian
    Llanfechain, United Kingdom
    1/27/12
    Overall
    "You should obtain a degree after listening to this"

    Crikey, get a text book if you want to know this story, it would be far easier. I abandoned the fascinating subject half way through quite unable to find time enough to devote exclusive concentration to the details of the mathematics presented here. I am NOT a mathematician, mind.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
    9/9/12
    Overall
    "Boring as hell"

    I downloaded this before a long flight and found it utterely boring, it is a littled mixed up, discontinuous and presented in a drawling long winded lecturing format, the narrator didnt help either.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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