Customer Review

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
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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