Customer Review

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to Quantum Physics and its applications, 11 Nov 2009
This review is from: Quantum Physics: A Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
Alastair Rae's book provides an introduction to quantum physics and a number of its applications in the world. The first chapter contains an introduction to basic physical properties, including an introduction to the atom. This will be familiar to most people with a basic science education. Chapter two discusses waves and particles and is reasonably detailed. I would recommend that you have a pencil and some paper ready to sketch out some concepts and to go through the maths. As the material presents a conceptual introduction to quantum mechanics, the maths is confined to boxes separate from the main text, to be indulged in at the readers's discretion. The book goes on to describe the role of quantum mechanics in energy generation. Included in this section is a quantum mechanical description of why carbon dioxide acts as a 'greenhouse gas'. I found the section on electrical properties, and the explanations on how electrical conductance / resistance arises. These is a helpful section on how semi-conductors work.

The important property of superconductivity has a dedicated chapter. I would have perhaps liked this to lead into a discussion of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as this is an application of quantum physics that many will have encountered but few understand. There is a discussion of the role of quantum mechanics in information processing, including cryptography and quantum computers. I did get the impression the Professor Rae is somewhat sceptical of the practicalities of constructing a quantum computer - indeed there are a significant number of difficulties that will need to be overcome before they become a reality so to speak.

The final chapter discusses some of the problems that are associated with quantum mechanics. The most widely supported Copenhagen Interpretation is discussed, and the main alternative interpretations (Subjectivism, Hidden Variables, Many Worlds) are mentioned. This is perhaps the weakest part of an otherwise great book: this chapter could have been significantly extended. However, there are necessary limits in a work of this kind.

Overall, I would recommend this book as an introduction to quantum mechanics for those who are interested in this vital and exciting area of research. I suggest that you have a notebook and pencil on your bedside table as well!
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