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on 19 September 2009
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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on 6 June 2001
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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on 3 October 2011
As a scientist, I wish I found this book years ago, it really is fantastic. For any of you studying A-Level Chemistry, although not obvious, this book is a must. It took me step by step through the history of science and philosophy, and turned those old fusty science names into exciting news. You will recognise names in this book that have been thrown at you in the classroom, and it really does piece together all the things that the patchwork of an A-level syllabus fails to adequately explain. You don't even have to be a scientist to find this enjoyable, only an open mind, and at points, some patience. Highly Recommended.
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on 21 June 2005
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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on 18 December 2000
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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on 26 October 2006
I am in the same situation as a previous reviewer, studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-Level with the desire to study engineering at a higher level. I decided to read this book in preperation for university admissions interviews.

Contrary to the previous A-Level student's opinion I found John Gribbon's In search of Schrodinger's cat a brilliant read. I felt that the book provided a firm history of the theories simplified in the classroom. It enabled me to further my school studies by discussing the history of scientists such as Boltzman, Avagadro, Newton, Einstein and Planck, all of whom I had already encountered, and firmly asserted their place in modern day Physics.

Admittedly I am not overly competent at Science but I found the book to be, when I set my mind to it, straightforward and understandable. Admittedly there were a few points at which I had to flick back a few pages just to make sure I had grasped the concepts Gribbin was explaining but that was half the beauty of the book.

Personally I thouroughly enjoyed reading about Schrodinger's Cat and and I eagerly await the arrival of my copy of the sequel Schrodinger's Kittens. If you have a newly developed interest in the basics of quantum mechanics and are unsure of how to begin this is a fantastic start and if you already know the basics it is still a very enjoyable read!
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on 15 July 2001
I bought this book having heard conflicting reviews on whether it was too complicated for the average reader without a scientific background, such as might read A Brief History of Time, or whether it was too easy for those with some science and maths training. As the first book I've read on the subject, it was a good read about the history and basic principles, but I'd have preferred more detail on some aspects, and for it to be more complicated so that I'd have finished with a greater understanding of quantum physics (if that makes sense!) A good read if you want to skim the surface of the subject, but I'll be reading something else to get into the proper maths and equations of the subject.
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on 7 April 2012
This book is the best place to start if you have no idea what quantum theory is about. it explains things in an easy to understand way for the layman like myself. Having read a book that said "plancks constant solved the ultravolet catastrophe" and having no idea what that meant. This book explained it in such a way that everything became clear. Well worth getting.
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on 24 February 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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on 4 August 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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