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)
If think it is fundamental here to say that this book is a biography of quantum physicists, not a lecture series explaining the problematic of quantum physics. As such I think it is rather good, quite detailed and very logically structured. Unfortunately I do not think the nature of the book is clearly understandable from the summary provided on the audible webpage. Thus to the people interested in the physicists and historical events connected to quantum revolution I very much recommend the book. The people who are searching for a deeper understanding of quantum phenomena I can only advise to search for another book.
The actual hard science is sidestepped but the gist of the theory is there. Non science backgrounds shouldn't worry it has a good flow and you can pick up the major concepts. Quite an interesting story with undertones of philosophy.
The content and the narration by the reader are first rate. I have read a number of books on this topic, but the debates and Einstein's implacable thought-experimenting are re-created here with particular clarity, drama, and verve.
If you study quantum mechanics as an undergraduate, you will generally get a nicely packaged product with all the rough edges trimmed off, maybe a paragraph or two about the history of the subject, and almost no treatment of the philosophical underpinnings of the theory or its philosophical implications. This book would make an excellent companion to a physics course in quantum mechanics, though I think it can also be enjoyed by a general reader. It is an excellent survey of the history of the subject touching on work by Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Born, Pauli, Dirac, Heisenberg, de Broglie, and Schrodinger. Short biographies are given for each of the key players, but the real plot is the evolution of quantum theory, as it is patched and re-patched, driven into ever deeper water by experiment after experiment.
Of all the audiobooks on the history of quantum mechanics available from audible.com, Kumar's QUANTUM is the most lucid, best written, chooses to emphasize the most significant events and puts them in the correct historical context and order in such a way that we can see their relevance to the theory of the quantum.
This is the best book on quantum mechanics for the general public. The only issue I had with the audiobook version is the quality of the audio seems to change as if certain parts of the narration were re-done. It happens dozens of times throughout the audio and was distracting when listening to the audiobook.
This is a fun and interesting history of the fathers of modern physics. The books start out a little slow as it orients the reader, but if you stick with it, by chapter 3 you will start to connect with the real world characters of Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein and the many other important scientist who discovered and developed our modern day view of space time and quantum mechanics.
The dynamics between Einstein and Bohr plays out like a 50 year chess match between two grand masters. Each move well thought out and calculated. Each move brilliant and almost flawless, but somehow the other seems to find that little flaw and is able to advance their view slightly further. Even today, these two views are still being heavily debated and it is still not certain who's universal view will ultimately prevail Bohr or Einstein, or maybe the final answer will be both.
Qutanum does a great job at describing the physics of the first third of the 20th century in the context of the lives of the scientists who made these amazing discoveries. This book strikes a wonderful balance between explaining the technical concepts at a high and approachable pop-sci level and exposing the very human drama of the men and women involved. I loved this book and was sad when it was over. I plan to listen again soon.
USMC journalist, turned Embassy FSO, now USAF Web Chief
I love this book because the author uses such wonderfully simplistic description of science and experiments that I can follow him most of the time and most importantly, can feel the tension between Einstein, Bohr, Boern, Schrodinger and others over the entangle debate on the meaning of life, the universe and reality. Adding more depth to my entertainment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe and encouraging me to dig up a text that was hugely popular when I graduated high school: In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality.
This book was fascinating and fun! I do hope they bring Schrödinger's Cat to audible.com soon.
If you are not too interested in science, you might like this book. If you have any interest at all in the subject, you will like this book. As a high school Physics teacher who knew less than I ought to about quantum theory, I committed last summer to reading up on the subject. I read about Einstein, watched a video series on quantum theory, and listened to this book. Even without the other two endeavors, I would have found this book to be informative and interesting. It is written in a narrative style that neither insults the intelligence nor talks over your head. The story and the theory are both more interesting than you are probably imagining.
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