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Publisher's Summary

Bringing together the best and most interesting science stories appearing in Quanta Magazine over the past five years, Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire reports on some of the greatest scientific minds as they test the limits of human knowledge. It communicates science by taking it seriously, wrestling with difficult concepts, and clearly explaining them in a way that speaks to our innate curiosity about our world and ourselves.

In the title story, Alice and Bob - beloved characters of various thought experiments in physics - grapple with gravitational forces, possible spaghettification, and a massive wall of fire as Alice jumps into a black hole. Another story considers whether the universe is impossible, in light of experimental results at the Large Hadron Collider. We learn about quantum reality and the mystery of quantum entanglement; explore the source of time's arrow; and witness a eureka moment when a quantum physicist exclaims: "Finally, we can understand why a cup of coffee equilibrates in a room." We reflect on humans' enormous skulls and the Brain Boom; consider the evolutionary benefits of loneliness; peel back the layers of the newest artificial-intelligence algorithms. These stories from Quanta give us a front-row seat to scientific discovery.

©2018 The Simons Foundation (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Broad collection of specific physics applications

The passages compiled in this audibook get straight to the point in their coverage of deep physics concepts, unlike a lot of reviews that treat the reader as if they were in elementary school. And they do it without burying you with needless equations or details. The contents include many aspects of the theory and applications of physics, though a lot of concepts are not discussed (e.g. loop quantum gravity is only mentioned in passing, quantum computing is hardly exposed, etc.). I would've preferred a 30 hr audibook with adequately broad scope, but I think the depth of this is about as perfect as any audibook can be expected to exhibit without scaring away most listeners. The narrator is as good as they come for this sort of audibook.

11 people found this helpful

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A Modern-day Classic

Keeping abreast of science is a struggle sometimes. From Brian Greene to Lee Smolin to Carlo Rovelli the available titles are enthralling but more than can be absorbed for the non-PHD enthusiasts. Quanta Magazine really helps. Their content, highlighted in this excellent book, is able to cover difficult topics without watering them down to an unrecognizable soup. If you get it, great! If you don't you can go learn what you are missing to understand. Its a great listen and a modern-day classic.

1 person found this helpful

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Compilation of interesting articles

This book was great but different than other physics books. The fact that each chapter consists of different articles written by different people makes this book unique. Some of them are captivating, some confusing, and some are meh. This unpredictability makes it feel choppy, even if some of the chapters are amazing. I feel like it would flow a little better if there was one author. However, having different authors helps because the journalism is on point throughout the book. Lots of quotes from significant people included. My favorite segment was the black hole debate. I learned a ton of physics in this book, and that chapter was the most interesting. The quantum physics part was too confusing to grasp for me, especially with the audiobook. Print might be a better option here. I loved how they covered all the bases with science. In the end, I feel more up to date on my scientific knowledge, which is all I wanted. Definitely recommend getting this one, you’ll learn a lot.

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Highly Informative Discussion of Physics Topics

This book provides a highly informative discussion of numerous scientific topics at the "Goldilocks" level of complexity. You don't need a PhD. in the physical sciences to grasp the subject matter; yet, a broad familiarity with general principles of cosmology is quite helpful.