Customer Review

252 of 266 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking can take you a long way, 2 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen (Hardcover)
This isn't a safe book. It isn't one of those well crafted yet bland and simplified introductions to quantum physics, the type that breeze you on through the history and development of our realisations. Don't get me wrong - those are good books, many of which would complement and round out this latest offering from Cox and Forshaw. Instead, this is a book to make you think for yourself and wrestle down those fleeting shadows of insight as they flit past our consciousness, until, as if we were making the discoveries with them anew, we have our own little "Eureka" moments.

Starting from the most basic of principles and following the simplest and, one might say, obvious rules, Cox and Forshaw use a novel conceptual technique to lead us from the microcosmic world of the quantum into discovering why the macro world is as it is. More than that, we are left realising that it is not the quantum world that behaves strangely at all, but that the world as we know it is an amazing and yet inevitable realisation of the counter-intuitive behaviour of the quantum world.

The discovery and realisation of just why a particle-like nature appears out from a wave function is then surpassed by the insight into the limitations of quantum fluctuations and the revelation of how "real movement" occurs. The same conceptual technique shows why quantum behaviour is "fuzzy" and how, without resorting to macro-view analogies, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is built in to the fabric of the universe.

Frankly, had they stopped there I would have had my monies worth. But they then go on to demonstrate how these insights must truly be present in the quantum world in order for our modern discoveries and technological developments to work.

In a final act of exuberance, Cox and Forshaw pose their own version of an Einsteinian thought experiment... taking some basic axioms from physics and the nature of quantum behaviour to demonstrate how it is possible to calculate the maximum mass of a dead star. Yes, this section is a delve into the world of equations (though rather more engineering than physics!), but you have to forgive them revealing their passion and revelling in the beauty of such a demonstration.

I would not give this book to my mother for Christmas. But it will appeal to anyone with a passion to discover how the physical world works. It will challenge you to think for yourself and reward you as "the penny drops". I wish that I had read it when I was fifteen years old... what an inspiration that would have been!
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Nov 2011 10:13:36 GMT
Atlantic says:
Oh dear, and to think I was going to ask my son to give me this for Christmas. Obviously a mistake. Or is it just Burntember's mother than doesn't have 'a passion to discover how the physical world works'? To see what I mean, replace with 'I would not give this book to my father for Christmas'.

Posted on 6 Nov 2011 10:15:17 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 6 Nov 2011 10:16:40 GMT]

Posted on 14 Nov 2011 13:41:55 GMT
If I was your mother, Burntember, I would buy the book for myself and not lend it to you. Go buy yourself a comic, lad.

Josephine Howard, age 76 and a hater of patronising remarks.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 09:12:01 GMT
I do not think he meant this in a derogatory way, he was merely stating that his mother would not enjoy it. I also think your comment of 'go buy yourself a comic, lad' is very patronising in itself and very rude.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 09:24:32 GMT
Yes, patronising and rude, a taste of his own treatment and disrespect for his mother's intellect,. He should write an apology (not to me, my anger is my own problem) . Why choose his mother not to get the gift of an excellent book? His gardener, the plumber, a vicar...?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 16:22:10 GMT
Burntember says:
Oh dear. How easy it is to be loose with words and cause such distress amongst the great unknowing. My mother was the technical manager of a meat importing company and once studied physics under Steven Hawking... Though she did enjoy the odd knit. And I only meant "my" mother.... not anybody else's. And oh yes, I'm a size 14 but trying desperately to drop into a 12 before Christmas. Please don't jump to conclusions everyone!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 21:36:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Nov 2011 21:37:40 GMT
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In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 21:39:40 GMT
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Posted on 25 Nov 2011 10:30:04 GMT
 says:
Is this a shill review?

Posted on 27 Nov 2011 23:26:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Nov 2011 23:26:48 GMT
N. Halpin says:
Great review Burntember. I shall purchase for me, and my son !... The "shrill" ripostes are hilarious !
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