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156 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, yet brilliantly informative
I'm currently studying Physics for A-Level and the course covers a bit of simple quantum mechanics. Of course, quantum mechanics is something which fascinates almost everyone, and so I looked around for some books about the subject and came across this from a recommendation from my teacher. Admittedly, before reading the book I thought it would either be overly...
Published on 21 April 2011 by ebygum

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enlightening book, lousy Kindle edition
The Kindle edition of this book follows the same tradition of many Kindle editions being little more than an afterthought by the publisher. Thankfully, it does not want to use its own font! Other than that, it has it all: inconsistent formatting, weird substitutions (the word 'left' has been replaced with 'indent' absolutely everywhere in the text: "If we start the...
Published on 8 Mar. 2012 by Catalin D. Voinescu


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156 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, yet brilliantly informative, 21 April 2011
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This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
I'm currently studying Physics for A-Level and the course covers a bit of simple quantum mechanics. Of course, quantum mechanics is something which fascinates almost everyone, and so I looked around for some books about the subject and came across this from a recommendation from my teacher. Admittedly, before reading the book I thought it would either be overly complicated (which many books on this subject are) or patronising and simple but to my surprise, from cover to cover the book kept me hooked -- it not only covers things that I've learned in class but new topics too, such as quantum tunnelling. Harder topics are introduced slowly and in a funny manner: usually with an intro from an encounter with the author's dog! Jokes are well placed and not too much, they allow the reader to have a good laugh yet still learn about the wonders of the quantum world. Well worth reading for anyone wanting to find out more!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enlightening book, lousy Kindle edition, 8 Mar. 2012
By 
Catalin D. Voinescu (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Kindle edition of this book follows the same tradition of many Kindle editions being little more than an afterthought by the publisher. Thankfully, it does not want to use its own font! Other than that, it has it all: inconsistent formatting, weird substitutions (the word 'left' has been replaced with 'indent' absolutely everywhere in the text: "If we start the experiment with a single photon in the indent half, we find that over time, it will slowly move into the right half" -- what?!), the occasional run together words ("the initial photon-onthe-indent state" -- a twofer!), hyphens in the middle of some words, exponents and subscripts rendered as regular text ("1036" instead of ten to the power of 36, or "6.626 × 10-34 kg m2/s" for the value of Planck's constant), badly paged captions for figures, references to page numbers (useless on the Kindle), annoying footnotes that are links that need to be clicked instead of real footnotes, and so on. Quite irritating, and distracting from an otherwise rather nice book.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light-hearted introduction to quantum mechanics, 4 Aug. 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
There is perhaps no area of Physics that has garnered as much fascination as quantum mechanics, save perhaps the theory of relativity. Yet in a sense the weirdness associated with quantum mechanics is even more profound than that associated with relativity. Relativity deals with physics of very fast objects, and even though it challenges our normal way of thinking, it still preserves some of the basic intuitions of what does it mean to be a physical object, how we measure properties of those objects, and what those objects can and cannot do. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, puts all those basic notion to a test. We are forced to reconsider even our basic understanding of what reality is. There have been many popular accounts of Quantum Mechanics over the years, and this book is yet another attempt of bringing this arcane field to the general readership. So despite what the title may say, this is not a book about Physics in general, but just about quantum mechanics. The dog from the title is author's German shepherd, and she is used as a stand-in for all the naïve, "Newtonian" ways of thinking about the world. Each chapter in the book covers a different aspect of quantum theory, and all the discussions are motivated in a light-hearted way by author's "dialogues" with his dog. These "dialogues" are meant to provide some comic relief from the otherwise technical subject matter. As such they work fine, although I am not the biggest fan of author's attempts at humor. The explanations provided in the book are actually very good - they are very well written, accessible to the general audience, and absolutely conceptually correct. This last point should not be taken for granted, as I have seen many attempts at making Physics accessible to the general audience that don't actually do justice to the actual Physics. One thing that I in particular like about this book is that it mentions several more recent experiments that have shed important light at the foundational aspects of quantum mechanics. In that respect this popular treatment is as up-to-date as they come. As a college Physics professor myself, I appreciate all the effort that the author has put into making this material accessible. As far as introductory, non-technical books on quantum mechanics go, this one clearly hits its targeted audience.
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81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boring? No! Complicated?...er...yes. Nice dog though!, 25 Oct. 2010
By 
Daniel Park "danielpark99" (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
Chad Orzel is a scientist. He is also a teacher. It is therefore unsurprising that he writes in the style of a college professor. If you think a college professor lecturing you on the subject of quantum physics sounds boring, then you're wrong. By using conversations with Emmy, his pet German Shepherd dog, as cover, the author is able to speak to his readers as a pet-loving human, instead of a lab-coated geek. If you think a college professor lecturing you on the subject of quantum physics sounds complicated, then...well...I have to admit that you're right. In all modesty, I'm not an unintelligent reader, and yet a good 30% of what Orzell had to say went completely over my head, even after a second reading. Also, scientists like to explain theories by repeated demonstration and as soon as the mirrors, lenses and polarising filters came out of the physics cupboard, I was sent back, quaking in my shorts, to my school physics lab 30 years ago, and a blind panic set in!

Orzell is at his best when explaining the general concepts of quantum physics to Emmy, who incidentally is very smart and is even biligual on account of her German ancestry. I got the impression that his dog is considerably brighter than most of his physics students. Where Orzell falls down, for me, is in the mind-numbing minutiae of the explanations. At these points, not even Emmy could get a bark in. However, I'm not a scientist, so perhaps this book speaks louder to those who naturally suit lab coats.

The best chapter is the final one, which debunks a collection of quasi-scientific claims for quantum physics. It is good to know that scientists can dismiss the outlandish claims that can be made about their discoveries, and are likely to reject any publically funded adoption of them. It makes me sleep safer in my bed to know that Orzell is watchful for such nonsense, in the same way that Emmy is watchful for evil goatee-bearded squirrels (maybe you need to read the book to understand that reference!)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very accessible, 23 Mar. 2012
This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
This is the first time I have managed to read a book on quantum theory in one go, without having to re-read sentences over and over again :-) Very well written and given I have a similar intellect to the dog in the book, this was welcome. I now understand *a little* more quantum theory. Definately recommended to newcomers to the field.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing introduction to a complex field, 24 April 2012
By 
Andrew Johnston "(www.andrewj.com/books)" (LEATHERHEAD United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Since the day I rescued copies of the original "Mr Tomkins" books from a school library "discard" pile, I've always been an enthusiastic reader of books which try to explain advanced science and technology concepts in a fun way, and this book (and it's newer counterpart about relativity) caught my eye recently.

The concept is simple: Chad Orzel's dog, Emmy, may be a typical mutt obsessed with walks, squirrels and discarded food, but she's also intelligent enough to have a basic grasp of quantum concepts, and a view to how they might be exploited in her favour, for example by passing simultaneously around both sides of a tree to catch a squirrel. Each chapter starts with Chad explaining why "it's not quite like that", and going on to explain the real physics to her in some detail. This works well, breaking up some quite complex discussions with amusing dialogue between master and hound, and makes the book eminently readable.

The books scores because it's bang up to date, and goes beyond the basic quantum concepts into more complex areas like decoherence, entanglement and quantum teleportation, supplementing explanations of the basic concepts and "thought experiments" with the details and outcomes of relatively recent experimental verification. Similarly "quantum" is the current buzzword beloved of pseudo-scientific charlatans, and the last chapter is a timely effort to debunk those who abuse it for get-rich-quick schemes and medical quackery.

I also particularly liked the way that the author is not afraid to embrace the concepts of measurement errors and accuracy. These are vital tools to understand how well, or badly, something has been established, and I was very pleased to see such an accessible book using them well.

The explanations themselves are a mixed bunch, some being very complicated and taking me a couple of goes to read and absorb. Given that I probably have rather more background that the target demographic (I do have a good Physics degree, albeit a few years old) this may mean that some readers could struggle with the most complex parts. I suspect a few more diagrams in these areas might have helped. However overall the book succeeds, and will probably prompt keen readers to re-read or seek out secondary explanations where they don't understand first time.

In the Kindle edition some of the graphics are a page or two adrift of the relevant text, and the footnotes (which often contain important or amusing asides) are presented in a bunch at the end of each chapter, which is not very reader friendly. I suspect the paper version of the book is better in this respect.

This books is well worth reading, and has certainly helped to refresh and update my understanding of a complex field, while giving me a welcome laugh at the dog's antics. I look forward to reading the relativity volume later this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The woof, the whole woof and nothing but the woof....., 13 July 2012
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Mr. D. C. Lee "Lee-Enfield" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
A great read about a topic that is alien to everyday life and might even be alien to aliens....

Chad Orzell (a great name for someone associated with quantum physics) is an Associate Professor in the Dept of Physics and Astronomy at Union College, New York and thus knows what he is talking about.

His dog in the book, Emmy, explains things very well to her master, that is when she is not chasing bunnies. Just the right amount of humour for me when talking about a subject that can easily get too complicated and theoretical.

One of the many books on Quantum Theories you must read before the Sun goes nova.....bon voyage, fellow Reader - enjoy !!!!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quantum Physics within reach of mere mortals, 25 Feb. 2011
This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
This is a great book for anyone who would like to try and understand the basics of Quantum Physics. You will be amazed at some of the ideas but even more at the confirming tests that underpin the theories. I found the dog analogies interesting at first and tiresome later, BUT they definitely helped the reader to begin to understand some of the basic complex theories involved. A relatively easy read which really stuns you in certain areas. I now know enough to be able to hold a basic conversation with more experienced people and can amaze those who do no have a clue about it. Worth a read for sure. Recommended buy for anyone who wants to grasp the basics!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy book, unforgivable Kindle errors, 8 Jan. 2012
By 
Mark Hurst (Bedfordshire) - See all my reviews
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I have a theory about books on quantum physics, which is that their capacity to engage the lay reader is inversely proportional to the number of the page he or she is currently reading. This book contributes to my ad hoc evidence base, though it does a creditable job and will likely merit a second and third reading before I can claim to have truly 'collapsed its wave function'. It's essentially a primer on the grand themes of quantum physics - but with dogs. The author's pet plays the 'dog on the Clapham omnibus', listening to his didactic outline of each such theme and then posing the questions we might ask if we were there. It's basically a good idea and the 'dog' theme provides material for contrasting everyday objects with things on a quantum scale, but it's also unquestionably corny at times. The main problem, though, is that the dog invariably fails to ask all the other questions that inevitably arise when the finer points of some terribly subtle experiment aren't explained clearly enough. In this, it's rather like those lists of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) that never seem to feature the questions we would actually want to ask. All that said, it's a contemporary introduction to the science and about as accessible as we have any right to expect of a book that confronts humankind's most esoteric body of theory. It also scores bonus points for including a chapter on the misappropriation of quantum physics by New Agers and quacks.

Regarding the Kindle edition, this has got to be the worst example of proofing I have yet to experience. There are, as you would expect, quite a lot of numbers, algebraic formulas and diagrams, and in a book such as this the consistent failure of attention to such details is of consequence that is simply unacceptable to a paying customer. The representation of exponents is occasionally correct but often not, in which case we read, for example, '1036' instead of 10 raised to the 36th power, or '10-21 seconds' instead of 1 divided by 10 to the 21st power. There are frequent occurrences of two particular idiosyncrasies, the substitution in text of the word 'indent' for 'left' and the substitution in formulas of '|' for '<'. The former, which is no doubt some markup artifact of an automated conversion of the text, results in such initially baffling passages as 'sometimes she wags her tail farther to the right, sometimes farther to the indent'. The latter, again likely some markup meta-confusion, gives us such unintelligible formulae as 'a|V> + b|H>', where presumably the more straightforward 'a<V> + b<H>' is intended. Algebra aside, given that this book relies so heavily on dialogue it shows a woeful inconsistency in its formatting, such that it's occasionally difficult to tell whether it's the author or the dog who is speaking. The message is clear - buy the paperback*, not the Kindle download.

(*Having visited my local WHS and checked out the paperback, I notice that the '|' v '<' issue appears in all the same places, so either the formatting is correct or the paperback is wrong too. The 'indent' and other problems are indeed Kindle-specific.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!, 15 Dec. 2012
This review is from: How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Paperback)
I can see why the style may not be to everyone's taste, but you should get an idea of the style by looking at the title! Personally I loved the style, and it never got to be grating or annoying - in fact, each chapter's introduction with a conversation with the author's dog really helped to relax the brain (after the concentration needed to understand the concepts of the previous chapter), whilst still keeping focussed on the topic at hand, as the conversations were relevant to the topic. I was also surprised at how using the real-world metaphors related to dogs (catching bunnies by going around both sides of a tree, tunnelling through a fence etc.) all really did help grasp the difficult concepts being presented.

I have a degree in physics, obtained many, many years ago, and read these sort of 'laymans' books to refresh my memory about the interesting parts of physics - it is all too easy to get bogged down in detail or maths. This book is one of the best I've read at re-igniting my interest, reminding me of things I had forgotten and even explaining some things in a much better way than I was ever taught.

You do need an interest in physics to enjoy the book. And you need a basic understanding too - it will be tough for someone without at least a GCSE in physics / science but if you are excited by the concepts of quantum physics, this book will do a great job of taking you through the journey of discovering it, or, as in my case, reminding you of why you studied physics in the first place. I'm too out of touch to know the current physics syllabus, but I'm guessing this book covers some A Level and early degree level concepts.

If you read the first chapter and are annoyed by the style, don't do any further. If you like it, read on...
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How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog
How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog by Chad Orzel (Paperback - 1 Oct. 2010)
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