23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen (Hardcover)
If you have always wanted to properly understand quantum mechanics, but the popular science books in which you have read about it so far have left you feeling intrigued but frustrated - because those books told you all this perplexing, common-sense-defying stuff and then didn't give you any way to get a handle on it - then get this book.
What is so great about this book is that, like the best popular science books, it doesn't demand any prerequisite knowledge, and yet the authors manage to tell you the simple rules of quantum mechanics in terms of diagrams and rules about how to add, multiply, and square lots of little clocks with different-lengthed hour hands (instead of having to confuse you with complex numbers). They absolutely steadfastly resist the temptation to introduce any of the usual quantum mechanical terminology and mumbo-jumbo and instead provide you with this really clear mental imagery of what is going on. And then just when you are thinking "Hold on. This is too weird. This can't really be what is going on. Either these physicists are all nuts, or I just can't understand what they are trying to get at", it's as if they have read your mind because they reassure you, saying things like "If you are wondering how on earth reality can really be like this, then you are in good company because nobody understands why reality is like this", and then add "but we are very sure of the correctness of the quantum mechanical rules we have told you about because every experiment ever carried out has confirmed them to tremendous accuracy".
Later they go on to add some more simple rules to the ones about adding clocks so that you can do simple particle physics. They tell you under what circumstances you have to apply a shrinking factor to the hands of the little clocks (in other words, they are telling how to use coupling constants - if you have heard of those). By the end of it, you will even understand how the Higgs bosons are supposed to give mass to the other particles - the particles that bump into them the most often are the most massive.
I never imagined the authors would have worked out a way to teach us so much in just a couple of days' reading! And even if you don't get it all the first time, it's only about 200 pages (excluding the appendix), and a lot of it is diagrams, so you can just read it again. I'm planning to anyway because it's such a marvel. I think this book is a real game changer.
(Also the book cover looks a lot nicer in actuality than it does in the picture. The title is embossed silver with holographic dots in it, and the rest of the cover has a sort of silky matt finish to it. It's very nice.)