Regular price: $21.31

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world.

Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half alive and half dead at the same time?

Our journey into the quantum begins with nature's own conjuring trick, in which we discover that atoms - contrary to the rules of everyday experience - can exist in two locations at once. To understand this we travel back to the dawn of the 20th century and witness the birth of quantum theory, which over the next 100 years was to overthrow so many of our deeply held notions about the nature of our universe.

Scientists and philosophers have been left grappling with its implications ever since.

Read by Hugh Kermode.

©2003 Jim Al-Khalili (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    171
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    169
  • 4 Stars
    54
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    142
  • 4 Stars
    63
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Best ever intermediate book on quantum physics

I have read or listened to about 10 books on quantum physics, and this is the BEST by far.

It’s both accurate and clear. It includes virtually no math. Achieving accuracy and clarity in this field while avoiding math is quite a feat. The book is suitable for readers who have a good basic knowledge of the concepts of quantum physics. It is probably not for raw beginners. However, mathematical knowledge is not required.

Among many other aspects of quantum physics, the book elucidates Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the true source of which is often mischaracterized, even in quantum mechanics textbooks.

This book might also be quite interesting to those who have a good mathematical understanding of quantum physics but may lack thorough understanding of quantum theory. For those who have studied the “shut up and calculate” school of quantum mechanics, this book might be extremely informative.

Jim Al-Khalili, the author, is an accomplished nuclear physicist who has made important contributions to the field. He's also a superb communicator of difficult scientific concepts. He has created and hosted numerous popular science documentaries.

The narration is also superb, the best of the 10 or so Audible books that I've listened to.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The fascinating world of the quantum

So many books about quantum physics but no one ever explains it, they only describe the science.

In a typically captivating Al-Khalili style, even that that cannot be understood is explained easily. "Those who think they understand quantum science, don't understand quantum science" don't ask why, just do the math that works.

The author explains why quantum science is so accurate yet defies intuition and any type of reason. Most scientists in this field only care that the science works. Why quantum physics works in the way it does is something they usually run away from, and for good reason. It makes no sense and defies logic.

Great author, great book, highly recommended for those that still don't understand why we don't understand the quantum world.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

So far so good. It's not going to let down.

Covering the basics and keeping it technical. Do not dive into this thinking you're going to know it all. Though it does start at the beginning if you don't have a grasp on the standard model good luck.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 05-02-17

Run of the Mill QM Primer

This is mostly a history of the important experiments and personalities involved in the history of QM. This book does not teach how to think about QM so as not to be perplexed. The basic premise seems to be it is perplexing, live with it. This book firmly in the "shut up and calculate" camp of QM. If may familiarize you with a few important QM experiments and people, but it not prepare you to understand the trouble with QM and it might (unfortunately) convince you that the universe is queerer than you can suppose.

The author feels he has an advantage over the reader in that he has concluded there are no simple explanations for quantum mechanics. I find this both silly and sad. Simple explanations in science generally seem unlikely (and are denied by all reasonable scientists) until they are uncovered. Deciding no reasonable explanation is possible seems limiting and foolish. I find books that describe quantum mechanics as weird, mysterious, strange, irrational, or beyond understanding to be tedious. What should be presented is the results of QM measurements with minimal interpretation or complication and without discussion of what might be happening between measurements. This book does just the opposite, focusing on the oddness between measurements.

On the upside, this book describes several "interpretations" of quantum mechanics and (unlike most books on this subject) includes (and does not totally trash) De broli Bohm theory.

There are lots of primers of QM and I have read many. This one is not one of my favorites, but it does present the basics in a traditional way. The narration is particularly clear and easy to understand. Up to now I generally recommend Lindley’s Uncertainty and Smolin's The Trouble with Physics.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Actually perplexed.

I love it when a new book can leave me scratching my head by the end. I have read so many books like this and they usually go over stuff I already have a pretty good understanding of, but this book was actually perplexing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I loved it. when I learned to use the rewind 30s

I loved it. when I learned to use the rewind 30s. not because of the narrator. just because it the complexity, my lack of understanding the subject or being sure to understand it all.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Nice listen

Balance between known and speculative, historical, current and possible future. Still perplexed! Wavefunction covered well. Entanglement done justice. Computing still a complete mystery.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Loved it.

A really clear explanation of quantum physics without trying to convince the listener that the actually of what is physically occurring can be explained. He does however, tell us why this is the case. Even better, he goes on to show why this is still extremely important science and everyday useful applications.

Very well read as well. I was never bored.

I am a science geek, so this review might not apply to all. But, you can always return it if not for you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

best layman's guide to the quantum wirls

great metaphors, author does not condescend and makes the material accessible. looking forward to learning more on the subject after this

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Well balanced, comprehensive and entertaining.

If you could sum up Quantum in three words, what would they be?

Balanced informative

What did you like best about this story?

Perfect narration aids understanding the content. Kermode could be Al-Khalili himself. Great perspective. Non-locality is inexplicable so no interpretation can make everyone happy. Copenhagen - the power of personality - but time to leave it behind?

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

Kermode is flat out brilliant voice talent. Meaning conveyed in the way content is delivered. Very impressive.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Lightbulb going on. David Bohm and De Broglie much maligned.

Any additional comments?

Brian Cox you humorless narcissist eat your heart out. Only kidding Brian.

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ross M.
  • 10-07-16

This is a truly excellent read!

Any additional comments?

<br/>Well written and well read. For such a mind bending topic, the audiobook flowed well and kept to a good pace.<br/><br/>Even for a quantum layman, I felt this was a great overview of this fascinating topic.<br/><br/>I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in stretching their mind a little.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mr. J. A. Ball
  • 11-05-16

A little less perplexed.

Jim Al-Kalili certainly makes quantum physics more accessible to the lay person non-scientist. A few times I felt like I was just hearing words, but most of the time I was getting it, I think. As much as anyone can really wrap their head around quantum physics. I do feel like I know more and understand the topic better.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Only me
  • 03-09-17

Not my first quantum book

I have read other books on science which dealt with quantum mechanics but this book has it as the main matter while still covering the related familiar classical/relativity areas of research. I enjoyed this change of perspective as well as the style of writing. Like other good books or gives the authors opinions, but in context referring to other opinions and open questions.
Like others have said it will definitely need to be re listened to. But then unless you are a physicist that applies to most of these books.
The reader did his job well and wasn't annoying. That's all you can ask.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Edeline Toth
  • 01-13-17

More than loved this.

Brilliantly clear and understandable. Though I'll need to listen several times to grasp it. Perfectly narrated too.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mr. Campbell D. Morrison
  • 01-21-17

A fascinating descruption of current quantum theory

I can't honestly say I undetstood it alk but I certainly got the general direction - I found it easy listening and will certainly give another go.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • D. G. Mathias
  • 01-13-17

Best things come in small packages or is it waves?

Jim does a great job explaining the unexplainable, although will need a re-listen as I'm not a physicist; in fact id imagin I'll come back again and again. He manages to avoid using any complex maths and tells the story of the weird little world very well.

Narrator is pretty good, would have preferred a slightly slower pace in order to digest the info, shame Jim didn't narrate himself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Jan Moucha
  • 11-21-17

Wow. Just wow.

This is what I've been looking for, for a long time. The book is amazing because it doesn't go into the into the crazy mathematics and concepts that other books would delve into, while explaining the matter clearly. The analogies used are very helpful, at times humourous. When listening to this, I had more than one moment of epiphany.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Dave
  • 11-02-17

Still perplexed but getting there

Maybe, I should have bought the book rather than the audio? Of course I might just be too thick to fully comprehend the subject matter.
Then I am get the impression, that the subject leaves those that are studying it in much the same quandary.
Great audio, enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jonathan
  • 07-06-17

great introduction to quantum mechanics.

great listen. covers all the major points and gives a good overview of major figures in the development of the theory, and its practical applications. above all links or up nicely with quantum gravity at the end and the quest for a unified theory.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • madshark
  • 03-28-17

Great book for the curious layman

Helped me understand a bit more about the quantum world and elaborates on the fundamental aspects.
Explained some of the practical applications of quantum physics.
I recommend adding this to your reading list if you fascinated with the quantum world but don't really have a 'scooby doo' about its maths and physics!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-17

Amazing book!

Great narrator and an even greater author, made the complex ideas of QM easy to understand.