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4.1 out of 5 stars42
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2014
These series of books are by far my favourite science books. Ever. Having read the classical mechanics book, I was extremely excited when this was released. I would warn though that it is not for the light-hearted. The Theoretical Minimum books are filled completely with equations and if your mathematics isn't up to scratch you wont get past the second lecture.
Having said this, if you wan't to start understanding science; real science that is, not like the science of pop science books where you're told a few vague ideas and some rough history. Rather, this book takes you into the mathematical framework of quantum mechanics and allows you to do the calculations and discover the true beauty of the equations.
Before reading this book my background in mathematics and physics were as follows: GCSE and AS level maths and physics, had read the first book. I don't think you will struggle to read this provided that you're willing to work fairly hard at understanding what's going on and that you have a working knowledge of calculus and a basic knowledge of matrix operations and knowledge of complex numbers.
The book covers a variety of topics and by the end of it you will understand the basics of the Schrödinger equation, general uncertainty, the Heisenberg uncertainty principal, using quantum mechanics to calculate probabilities of certain outcomes and also quantum entanglement and why it's such a strange phenomena. These ideas are not made readily available, you will have to do a fair bit of work in understanding in order to fully appreciate these ideas.
It took me about 3 months to read and understand this book and I feel that I have a basic grasp on some fundamental ideas in quantum mechanics. If you have no serious understanding of the maths of physics or have no interest in learning it then this book is not for you. If you do not want to have to think about the ideas presented in order to grasp their importance then this book is also not for you. However if you want an invitation into the world of real quantum mechanical theory then this is the book for you.
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on 20 November 2014
What a book - Susskind is a magician. I have some of his other stuff but this is tops. I wish I had had this book when doing my physics masters 15 odd years ago. His video lectures are great too if my memory serves me correctly.
Susskind cuts out all the cackle and gets to the core of the particular topic in hand. His choice of "core" topics is spot on - in total these topics give a well rounded picture of QM. In particular you are encouraged to think DEEPLY about the underlying basics and not simply learn by rote. Susskind aims to turn out physicists not mechanics/mechanicians. Probably not sufficient material for a full blown QM course which would require one or more of the more tradional texts (too numerous to list here)
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on 3 August 2015
Demanding, but worth the effort, I am about a third of the way into the book and do have to keep re-reading parts of it, but with patience should make it through. My first exposure to Quantum Mechanics was in 1968 ! This is the book I have been looking for since then. Complex numbers, vectors, and matrix multiplication are explained but if you already have a level of comfort with these ideas you should progress easily.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2014
I saw this book on the shelves in my local booksellers which are usually reserved for books which are new, interesting and likely to sell a lot of copies. They were right on two out of them, but they were in cloud cuckoo land on the ‘lot of copies’ part (unless we get a ‘Brief History of Time effect’ where lots buy it and don’t read it). This is a new and interesting book, and for the niche it is aimed at it is brilliant – but that is a narrow niche indeed.

Usually there are two kinds of science books. Popular science explains what the discoveries and theories of science, with historical perspective, so that the general reader can get a feel for them – but reading a popular science book on, say, quantum mechanics would not leave you able to solve quantum mechanics problems.

Textbooks, on the other hand, teach the actual science itself, usually with a lot more maths, so that you can indeed do the workings, but they don’t give you any context, and they are inaccessible (and, frankly, highly boring) to most readers.

This book highlights a tiny crack in between the two, a niche where it can do a very interesting job of leading the reader into the actual science, but in a more hand-held and less boring way than a textbook. Because it takes this approach it hasn’t got the context or readability of a popular science book – but it’s far more readable than a textbook. Similarly, it doesn’t have quite enough detail to really ‘do’ the physics – but it takes you well on the way there, so that it would only take a little textbook work to get on top of it.]

The only thing I’d criticise (apart from the narrowness of that niche) is the really irritating attempts at folksy fictional openings to the sections. They don’t work. Stay with what you’re trying to do, guys, don’t try to be entertainers.

For most popular science readers this book simply won’t work. It makes the infamously ‘I started it but couldn’t finish it’ Brief History of Time look highly simplistic and non-mathematical. And for serious physicists, it’s still too limited – though it takes what is in some ways a better approach, giving more emphasis early on to entanglement, than the way quantum physics is traditionally taught. Either for those about to start a university physics course who want some preparation, or for someone who finds popular science explanations too summary and is prepared to take on some quite serious maths (A level maths required as a minimum, I would say) it’s a fascinating addition to the library. For the rest of us, probably best to leave it where it is.
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on 8 August 2015
I'm slowly working my way through this, but am far enough advanced to review it, I think. Importantly for any potential reader, it should be pointed out that this book is a mathematical introduction. Though the maths in the examples and exercises is not particularly difficult, it does require some familiarity with matrix algebra, trigonometric functions and calculus. And, unless I'm missing something, the answers to the exercises are not included in the Kindle book.

All that being said, it is exactly what it claims to be. A basic explanation of quantum mechanics, with the detail as clear as possible. That the sub-atomic world does not behave like the world we can see and feel is not the fault of the author.

So if you read this book, be prepared to use up a fair amount of pen and paper and to undergo a certain amount of head-scratching along the way.
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on 29 March 2014
Prof. Susskind takes a highly abstract approach to the subject in this book. He discusses it with almost no reference to the real experiments that provided the basis for the bizarre mathematics of QM. Instead, he simply outlines the mathematics with reference to some idealised 'experiments' that appear to bear no relation to anything in common experience.

The reader has to either accept the statements he makes at face value, or go looking for an explanation in a more formal text.
A short chapter or even a foreword on the Stern-Gerlach experiment would have helped immensely.

Having said that, the book is a masterful summary of the current state of knowledge and an entertaining read. If you would like to understand entanglement but are afraid to ask, this is the book for you.
He covers the subject matter fully and accurately, with all the proper mathematics but he makes certain to provide adequate explanations of any subtle mathematical ideas that he might need to use.
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on 5 September 2015
In my humble opinion Leonard Susskind is one of the greatest thinkers in physics. His online lectures are brilliantly delivered in a way that should make his students revere him, presented with humility, humour, deprecation, accuracy, insight and supreme authority. But somehow this co-written book just doesn't connect for me. I am an engineer strongly interested in scientific endeavour and knowledge. I didn't have any trouble with the mathematical content. And I expected to be wowed. But I wasn't. There are deep truths and mysteries about the nature of reality in quantum mechanics, but I felt this book only casts a dim illumination into the depths.
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on 11 April 2014
This book does just what it sets out to do. It goes for understanding (in as much as one can with quantum mechanics) rather than a lot of mathematical rigour. The topics are described in an easy to read style and most don't need a lot of other, supportive, study. The text is quite large and well spaced allowing room for the reader to insert margin notes. If your classical mechanics knowledge is a bit rusty I would recommend you go through the previous book first to which there are references in this book.
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on 29 July 2015
In any book of this type the first question to be asked is 'Who is it aimed at?' Having read or tried to read a variety of books like this of varying complexity, I am no longer surprised that authors never seem to get this quite right. Too much maths? Not enough maths? This book tries hard to get it right, but ultimately fails because the author(s) get too wrapped up in their own technical knowledge.As soon as you see things like 'it's easy to prove that...' or 'I'll leave you to show that...' chances are you'll give up. Also, having loads of exercises without providing detailed answers is frustrating. The book is also heavy on algebra and very light on actual 'number crunched' answers. The author(s) also like to tell you things on one page and tell you they'll explain it later. Just explain it now please!

If you have a pretty good mathematical background you'll probably be able to follow the text, but if your maths is that good, chances are this book won't cut it for you.
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on 4 August 2015
I have read only about a quarter of the book so far and it justifies the reviews I've read. Despite the one or two reviews suggesting this book is only for the layperson, Professor Susskind takes the reader through the various stages of the mathematics (proofs) necessary to achieve a clear understanding of what is a very profound and abstruse subject. As the man said, "the beauty of quantum mechanics is in the mathematics: just follow the maths." I would like to add, though, that if the reader's maths don't go beyond say GCSE level, the explanations given will seem like learning a foreign language; so not a text for the faint hearted.
If I do have a criticism, it's the interludes of supposed humour which frequently punctuate the text: the book doesn't need it and it doesn't add anything to the overall presentation: that's why four stars have been awarded.
But don't let what I've written detract from the quality of the book; it's well written, the author clearly knows his subject, and the book's price is very reasonable. So if you've an interest in this direction, whether as a student or layperson, go for it -- I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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