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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grounded state, 8 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen (Hardcover)
Despite the subtitle of this book ("Everything that can happen does happen"), this is really a practical "shut up and calculate" book about quantum theory.

One of the problems with fundamental physics is that the underlying implications of quantum theory are just plain mind-boggling. For example, the theory of `superposition' tells us that a particle of matter can be in many places at once and `non-locality' says that particles on opposite sides of the universe can communicate with each other instantaneously - and as far as we know, they can. Even a mind as great as Einstein's struggled with the latter proposition.

Because of this, it is really too easy for lay-people (like myself) to get dazzled by glamorous ideas such as multiple universes and observer created reality and the like. These are all serious theories - and they make for exciting, saleable books - but they are also extremely speculative and ultimately un-testable.

So this new book by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw is, like their previous title, an attempt to explain exactly what an important theory means to you and me in our everyday lives. At root, it is about why and how atoms form from tiny particles such as electrons and protons. This is so important because it explains how everything in the universe is as we see it. It explains why, from just a few elementary particles, we get the one hundred or so elements of the Periodic Table, why stars and planets form from clouds of dust, why solids are solids and liquids are liquids and why some solids conduct electricity.

At the end of it, we are still forced to accept superposition and non-locality but this book asks you not to think about that too much, to accept their inevitability and get on with understanding how quantum theory explains the above. It has shown me that the basic rules of quantum theory are really quite simple to understand. After probably reading too many books on the speculative side of this subject, this is a wonderfully, refreshing and successful approach.

And, please be reassured, none of this means that you are forbidden to wonder about the true nature of reality when you are done understanding the principles!
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