- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; First U.K.Edition edition (1 Nov. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 057123545X
- ISBN-13: 978-0571235452
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.4 x 22.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You Hardcover – 1 Nov 2007
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A brief, non-mathematical introduction to quantum theory and relativity. Succeeds magnificently. -- New Humanist, December 2007
Chown proves it is perfectly possible to explain hard physics without needing mathematics and graphs. Thoroughly recommended. -- BBC Sky at Night, January 2008
Lay readers, delighted by Chown's vivid imagery and lively humour, will experience several happy Eureka moments. -- The Times, November 17, 2007
Science doesn't come harder than this but Chown makes it all look so easy. -- New Scientist, December 1, 2007
Weird, sexy and mind-blowing. It's remarkable the number of new ways Chown has found to explain difficult and abstract concepts.
-- Nature, April 13, 2006
'A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand this crazy universe we live in. Superb.' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
I have read several books on physics and quantum theory by authors such as Brian Green, John Gribbin and Stephen Hawking and was familiar with quantum theory; familiar in the sense that I have a vague understanding of the topic and find it thoroughly interesting but decidedly bonkers.
Given my existing "knowledge", I wasn't sure if this book would be for me, but I bought it anyway, and now, having found a few spare hours dotted through the Christmas holiday, I am very glad indeed that I did.
The book is split into two parts; i) Small Things and ii) Big Things. Small things discusses the strange world of quantum theory, wave-particle duality, interference, superposition, quantum tunnelling and the like, whilst part two focusses, in general, on Einstein's theories of relativity.
Given the book's title, I was surprised at the amount of space given over to relativity. (That little bit of prior "knowledge" meant I figured the author intended to bring us full circle and explain why General/Special relativity break down when describing the very small in black holes or at the Big Bang - which he does.) However, the Big stuff sits nicely alongside the Small and in the final chapter prepares readers for the even stranger world that string theorists inhabit.
The book progresses at an nice, even pace with plenty of examples and illustrations, which, given the topic, end up being a little contrived and exaggerated.Read more ›
Well worth a try even if you're a physics sceptic as I was!
well worth reading.
"I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics", the great physicist Richard Feynman famously said. I'm sure he was right, and I certainly don't claim now to understand it, but at least after reading this book I feel for the first time that I have a basic grasp of some of the abstruse concepts involved, aided by the many incredible facts Chown sprinkles through the book, such as that the entire human race would fit in the volume of a sugar cube.
The second half of the book deals with Einstein's theory of relativity. The concepts here are far more familiar to me, but again Chown describes them in an elegant and accessible way, once again illustrating them with simple but memorable analogies and facts, such as that you age faster at the top of a building than the bottom.
Another reviewer complains that the book has no diagrams, something I noted with surprise when I first opened it. However, it is so clearly written that no diagrams are required - I certainly didn't ever feel I needed a diagram as I was reading it.
If you have an interest in these subjects (and, as they are central to everything in the universe, I think you should), then I thoroughly recommend this extremely readable book (even if it has a completely naff cover!).
That said, it manages to cram in some of the important stuff to varying degrees of success. Chown's down-to-earth writing style helps, but there's no escaping the problem that condensing topics like quantum entanglement and probability waves to this extent will necessarily sacrifice answers to a whole host of follow-up questions that arise to the curious beginner. Still, there are some good explanations and analogies, particularly on time dilation. For me though, it didn't quite live up to the standard of Chown's earlier book, The Magic Furnace.
By all means give it a go if you're a beginner - you'll no doubt expand or strengthen your understanding of at least some aspects of the subject. Just don't be surprised if you wind up with a lot of unanswered questions by the end of it.
[EDIT: I have since read Jim Al-Khalili's Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed. It's a bit more expensive, but I have to say it was definitely worth it: better explained, and probably the kind of book this one should have been. It's now apparent just how much information was lacking in Chown's book, not to mention the vital role a diagram can play when grappling with a new concept.]
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An Awesome book. I've read about this subject many time and this is the first time I'm starting to understand it. Very readable.Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
I picked this up because I wanted to impress a physicist - and it read like a murder mystery. Even if you think you can't get your head around the difficult science bits, here it... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Polythene Pam
I buy a lot of these books and this is the best for interpreting quantum.Published 20 months ago by Nielsen1988
Marcus Chown is an excellent writer and his ability to explain the most difficult of concepts is displayed in this fabulous book. Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2015 by Christopher Lawson