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The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen Paperback – 21 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (21 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241952700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241952702
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A scientific match made in breezily a written accessible account of the theory of quantum mechanics as you could wish for - from the Planck constant to the Higgs particle and everything theoretically in between (Observer)

Mindblowing ... what is novel about this attempt is that the writers take an intellectual rather than a historical approach ... it is a surprisingly rich idea that allows the authors to avoid using too much mathematics (Christopher Potter Sunday Times)

[Cox and Forshaw] stand together at the cutting edge of their discipline ... despite their elevated status, both men remain tiggerishly excitable about their subject ... Cox and Forshaw's book is a carefully guided tour through this quantum world ... popularize[s] without dumbing down (Christopher Cook Financial Times)

A thrilling voyage into the subatomic world (The Economist Books of the Year)

With brightness and gusto, the opening chapters deal with the culture shock that thinking about the sub-atomic world entails ...They are good at drawing connections between seemingly esoteric theory and everyday practicalities (Doug Johnstone Independent on Sunday)

The rock star of science... In Quantum Universe they do a great job of bringing a difficult subject to life (Hannah Devlin The Times)

Breaks the rules of popular science writing...admirably shies away from dumbing down...the authors' love for their subject-matter shines through the book (The Economist)

Admirably, Cox and Forshaw...treat topics that do not usually show up in popular books...readers will enjoy this engaging, ambitious and creative tour of our quantum universe (David Kaiser The Guardian)

By explaining theories about the world, Cox and Forshaw show that the workings of the universe can be understood by us all (Fanny Blake Woman & Home)

About the Author

Brian Cox (Author)
Brian Cox is a Professor of Particle Physics and Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, and works at the CERN laboratory in Geneva. He is also a popular presenter on TV and radio.

Jeff Forshaw (Author)
Jeff Forshaw is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Manchester, specializing in the physics of elementary particles. He was awarded the Institute of Physics Maxwell Medal in 1999 for outstanding contributions to theoretical physics.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of the reviews I've seen for this book seem to be either from scientists who 'get it' or laymen who do not. All I can say is that I don't come from a scientific background, having found it all rather baffling at school but have become more interested in the subject later in life. This is the first book I've read on Quantum Theory & thanks to the clear explanations provided by Forshaw & Cox (AKA 'him out of D:REAM / off the telly with the haircut & telescope'), I both understood & enjoyed it. But then of course, there's the maxim about Quantum Theory that 'if you think you understand it, then you probably don't...'

Cox & Forshaw present this intimidating subject in a clear & reassuring way. There are areas where mathematical formulae are used but they reassure their readers that we shouldn't worry, that they are merely there for people who understand them & for the rest of us, the main points will be explained in the text. So while I found them intimidating at first glance, the authors' excellent breakdowns made them understandable while giving me a deeper appreciation of why mathematics is so important to Physics.

While the authors explain it very clearly, there's no hiding from the fact that this is a pretty mind-bending subject. Cox & Forshaw believe that the difficulty most people have is in assuming that what they call 'small things' must conform to the same rules as 'big things', such as only ever being in one place at once; apparently they do not, instead behaving in a accordance with a totally unique & much less concrete set of rules. So anyone expecting to be able to have a relaxing, passive read & come out of it understanding how a single electron can behave like an entire wave will find their expectations scuppered.
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260 of 274 people found the following review helpful By Burntember on 2 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This isn't a safe book. It isn't one of those well crafted yet bland and simplified introductions to quantum physics, the type that breeze you on through the history and development of our realisations. Don't get me wrong - those are good books, many of which would complement and round out this latest offering from Cox and Forshaw. Instead, this is a book to make you think for yourself and wrestle down those fleeting shadows of insight as they flit past our consciousness, until, as if we were making the discoveries with them anew, we have our own little "Eureka" moments.

Starting from the most basic of principles and following the simplest and, one might say, obvious rules, Cox and Forshaw use a novel conceptual technique to lead us from the microcosmic world of the quantum into discovering why the macro world is as it is. More than that, we are left realising that it is not the quantum world that behaves strangely at all, but that the world as we know it is an amazing and yet inevitable realisation of the counter-intuitive behaviour of the quantum world.

The discovery and realisation of just why a particle-like nature appears out from a wave function is then surpassed by the insight into the limitations of quantum fluctuations and the revelation of how "real movement" occurs. The same conceptual technique shows why quantum behaviour is "fuzzy" and how, without resorting to macro-view analogies, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is built in to the fabric of the universe.

Frankly, had they stopped there I would have had my monies worth. But they then go on to demonstrate how these insights must truly be present in the quantum world in order for our modern discoveries and technological developments to work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a lively and informative overview of quantum mechanics (and you don't get to say that very often!). It starts from the point where most TV programmes and glossy photo-books tend to finish, so the language and info is more challenging than you normally find in mainstream media and popular science books.
The writing style is very accessible and grounded in the real world but, even so, I suspect that most folk who don't have a science background will struggle to grasp some of the concepts or get to grips with how they might be visualised or calculated.
As a life sciences undergraduate (all the physicists in the room just tutted; biology is barely science as far as they're concerned...) I found some of it pretty challenging -- but definitely worthwhile. Cox and Forshaw have plainly intended the text to be absorbed by members of the public, and not just science nerds, and I have found it very rewarding to go back and re-read some segments until the gist has finally sunk in. If recent TV shows and CERN results have piqued your curiosity about particle physics, then this book does provide a detailed and comprehensible overview.
'The Quantum Universe' definitely answers one very big question - the 'hang on!' moment which occurs at the end of most BBC science programmes, when the viewer feels stranded halfway into a subject without an adequate explanation. You know, the way Horizon always seems to avoid going anywhere near any hard data these days, and just concentrates on the 'ooh' and 'ahh' stuff without providing any kind of demonstrable proof. I have long wanted to be able to pick up a book which will at least attempt to talk me through some of the tougher concepts in subatomic physics, and this is it.
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