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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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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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

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Betty
  • Connecticut
  • 01-08-11

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pauline
  • Colorado Springs, CO, United States
  • 01-11-11

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • Broken Arrow, OK, United States
  • 12-13-10

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.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Peter
  • Ossining, NY, United States
  • 01-31-11

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Anything but math free

There are whole sections of this book that do nothing but recite math formulas. In fact even in his introduction, the author admits that it is not a math free look at quantum mechanics. The answer is simple: change the name of the book to reflect the content.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Story

Amazing

I love this book! It gave me answers that few have. It was entertaining too!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very Interesting, but still Confusing

This book has some very cool parts, and I loved the references to comics and science fiction novels, but the explanations of Quantum Mechanics is still very complex and, yes, there's math. Overall, it's worth it if you're interested in physics.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Good Overall Review of Quantum Mechanics

The book provides a good overall review of quantum physics. The theory is mixed with stories of quantum mechanics in popular fiction and there are a few sections examining quantum mechanics in use.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

it was Math-free but it was far from it

it was a really good book but too much math for an enjoyable listen. if this is a field you have a passion for, definitely get this. if it sounded interesting., you may want to reconsider.