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In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality [Paperback]

John R. Gribbin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 1984
Quantum theory is so shocking that Einstein could not bring himself to accept it. It is so important that it provides the fundamental underpinning of all modern sciences. Without it, we'd have no nuclear power or nuclear weapons, no TV, no computers, no science of molecular biology, no understanding of DNA, no genetic engineering. In Search of Schrodinger's Cat tells the complete story of quantum mechanics, a truth stranger than any fiction. John Gribbin takes us step by step into an ever more bizarre and fascinating place, requiring only that we approach it with an open mind. He introduces the scientists who developed quantum theory. He investigates the atom, radiation, time travel, the birth of the universe, superconductors and life itself. And in a world full of its own delights, mysteries and surprises, he searches for Schrodinger's Cat - a search for quantum reality - as he brings every reader to a clear understanding of the most important area of scientific study today - quantum physics. In Search of Schrodinger's Cat is a fascinating and delightful introduction to the strange world of the quantum - an essential element in understanding today's world.

Product details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Reissue edition (Sep 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553342533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553341034
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.5 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,225,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Part history book and part remedial physics text for those who lost interest when the equations started getting unintuitive, In Search of Schrödinger's Cat explains quantum physics in a way that's not only clear, but also enjoyable.

Gribbin opens with the subjects that most physics professors have just started to examine by the end of term: the mysterious character of light; the valence concept in Nils Bohr's atomic model; radioactive decay; and the physics of life-defining DNA all get clear, comprehensive and witty coverage. This book reveals the beauty and mystery that underlies everything in the universe.

Does this book claim to explain quantum physics without maths? No. Maths is too central to physics to be bypassed. But if you can do basic algebra, you can understand the equations in In Search of Schrödinger's Cat. Gribbin is the physics teacher everyone should have in high school or college: kind without being a pushover, knowledgeable without being condescending, and clearly expressive without being boring. Gribbin's book belongs on the shelf of every pre-calculus student. It also deserves a place in the library of everyone who was scared away from advanced physics prematurely. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"A gripping account of the history of quantum mechanics and a clear description of its significance - and weirdness. Absolutely fascinating" (Isaac Asimov)

"Precise yet mysterious... as beautiful as a poem and as exciting as a novel" (The Sunday Times)

"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it" (Niels Bohr) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wow Book As Far As Quantum Goes 19 Sep 2009
By demola
My first review went AWOL in Amazon's computers so let's hope this makes it through. John Gribbin's ISOSC is the best beginners quantum book I've read to date. As a layman, clear descriptive examples and not too much on the mass, spin and electric charge of umpteen antimatter particles work best or one loses the wood for the trees. Gribbin carefully explains the development and essential building blocks of (and personalities in) quantum mechanics and eventually even on what "spin" might be. I did get lost at Feynman diagrams showing particles moving backward in time but paraphrasing Niels Bohr, if you're not stunned by quantum mechanics then you don't get it. This is a wow book. Loved it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and to the point 4 Aug 2012
Having previously read some longer popular science books, they all very much dwelled on points for much longer than is necessary. John Gribbin does not fall into the trap at all and writes about everything at a length that keeps it interesting and to the point. I really like this.

The content of the book itself is very good. It explores QM, its history and also how it works, and then goes on to explain the weirdness of the quantum world, its experimental history and prospects. Finally, the future of physics and the directions in which can be taken over the coming years ('many worlds' pun, possibly? no? okay.) including supersymmetry are explored. So for a short book as it is, many aspects of QM are tackled and with good style and little spin (until towards the end), no pun intended there.

I didn't read the 'updated edition' so I cannot vouch for that, but I actually bought the book back in 2009 so I had a fairly older edition which is constantly referencing how it was written in about 1983. A lot of the content of the book has changed now as the LHC is up and running (and the Higgs has supposedly been found but that may be too recent), many more particles have been found (tau neutrino for example) and string theory/M theory are full blown theories now. So I hope that in the updated edition, this slight outdated-ness had been changed. (if someone could comment whether this has occurred or now, that would be awesome).

So yeah. Great book regardless of science ability. Mathematical ability is irrelevant as there is no mathematics in it. Recommended to anyone studying A level physics who wants further reading for personal statements and such!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
John Gribbin has created an excellent book for anyone vaguely curious about Physics and moreover Quantum Mechanics.
It accurately and succinctly introduces the reader to the alien world of the very small, the world of particle physics and it's associated theory area, Quantum Mechanics. The book details the history of this study area in enough detail to satisfy those with some prior knowledge and yet will also keep the reader that is perhaps new to the Scientific arena interested throughout. Although clearly not a fictional work the "plot" follows the illuminate of Mathematics and Physics who, in the early part of this century, laid the ground work for a hugely productive area of science. It neatly explores sub-plots that highlight supporting narrative about the key figures, the mathematics they used, the air of discovery, political diversions and war across the Lab Benches as classical physics, led by Einstein, sort to push the Quantum lobby to the very limit of absolute understanding.
There are equations and experimental examples but not enough to disrupt a thoroughly good read for people without prior mathematical experience. Perhaps not quite enough for those that crave the quadratic or the matrix mechanic?
A great way to open a fascinating new way of viewing the universe(s)..!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I am one of those few people who have actualy read their copy of the Brief History of Time and this book is just as good if not better. The book is not hard to read as some may think and gives insight and wonder into the World of Quantum Mechanics. In fact I think I learnt more Quantum Mechanics from this book than I did from my entire Physics degree.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written but not concise enough. 18 Dec 2000
By L-Dada
There is no doubt John Gribbin is one of the best scientific writers around as you'll observe if you read this book and its sequel(Schrodinger's kittens). This book however left me asking more questions because most of the aspects were not covered in detail. In view of this I would recommend this book to anyone slightly curious about quantum physics. You'll find it an exciting read without all the complex calculations and terminologies which I hunger for!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb introduction 21 Jun 2005
By A Customer
This book is aimed squarely at those who did not do science A-level, and as such I found it a fantastic overview. Lively, funny and jaw-dropping. What more could you want?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant 24 Feb 2000
This book tackles a difficult subject but explanes it so well that noone should have trouble understanding it. Mr Gribbin has done a wonderful job.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anything You Want To Know About PHYSICS! 19 Feb 2006
By A Customer
If you want to know more about the world Of physics.. READ IT...
You don't need abny prior knowledge ... and even if you do know something about physics you will love this anyway...
A Must have.. as thrilling as a novel and more educational than a physics textbook.. I give you my personal guarantee!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 27 days ago by Leebo
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!
What can I say? I great journey into the uncertainties of modern physics. I bought the Kindle version and I dip into it when travelling on bus, train, etc. Recommended!
Published 1 month ago by Ric
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book but terrible quality.
Published 1 month ago by lean
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Very well explained, i'm an engineering student so i am familiar with some of the concepts of quantum mechanics, but even at that its a very difficult field(pun intended).
Published 1 month ago by Gavin
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a physicist, but......
These sorts of books are always fascinating but can be difficult to read as they make you think too much whilst trying to read. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Slj Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars To my other son
Giving this book as a x-mas gift to my son, as he just finished his master i digital design - and this hopefully gives him new aspects in his future work.
Published 7 months ago by Anne Gram
4.0 out of 5 stars Only a non Englishman could be so wicked to a poor defenceless cat!!
A clear well written history. Some maths; but they can be glossed over without losing too much of the plot. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr P M Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
It is written in a very easy manner and describes complex theories succinctly and without the reader drowning in equations
Published 10 months ago by Gaston Guinness
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Great summary of the numerous revolutions in modern physics. My 16 year old daughter is enthralled by it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Transatlantic
3.0 out of 5 stars A poor treatment of a fascinating subject
While the author obviously knows his subject, in my opinion he has no gift for explaining it. He also has an irritating tabloid tendency to sensationalize Quantum Physics (QP),... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Philip Mayo
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