Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
A difficult topic conveyed through top-notch explanation
on 29 July 2010
'In Search Of Schrodinger's Cat' is a book that tackles the most important development in physics of the twentieth century: Quantum Physics. With such a fundamental leap, however, has come a topic that is incredibly hard for anyone less than an undergraduate to understand. In his book, John Gribbin succeeds to a large extent in conveying the ideas of this complex topic to the non-scientist. A word to the wise though, if you have never studied physics, you will struggle. In my estimation, one needs an education in Physics up to a year before attending university in order to understand all of the vocabulary used in this book. Even if this worries you, however, I suggest you read on.
The book is split into three main sections: The Quantum, Quantum Mechanics and ...And Beyond. The first section deals with discoveries and developments in physics before the quantum model became accepted in any form (such as the photoelectric effect) and serves as a useful source of background information and a light introduction to the book. The second section is the main meat of the book, covering the major developments in quantum physics once it had become accepted in some form. Finally, the last section covers the more interesting (and so more difficult to comprehend) aspects of the subject matter, such as parodoxes. This is by far the most entertaining section of the book and the ideas contained within it truly serve to redefine the way one looks at the world. the book finishes with an epilogue that focuses upon unexplained phenomena and the associated theories and hypotheses that have so far gone unaccepted by the scientific community. It is here that Gribbin's passion really becomes evident and you are encouraged to think for yourself about everything you have learned.
In the epilogue, however, is a problem. This book was written in the mid-1980s and as such some of the unexplained phenomena have since been explained and some fascinating theories go unmentioned through no fault of the book (string theory is a notable example). This, I feel, is the only point that the book can ever be criticised on, and that is an inevitable consequence of time. Regrettably, this does detract from the usefulness of the book as a text for someone (such as I)looking to study physics at university. This should not be overplayed, however, as this book provides an extremely solid foundation through which to continue further research into more recent developments into quantum theory.
And now to deal with those who did not have a recent education in physics or who dropped out too early. If you are prepared to put a little work in, by looking up unfamiliar terms and concepts on the internet or in another book, then you will gain even more than most people as far as knowledge goes, this is a classic case of putting a little work in to get a large reward, and every reader is most certainly awarded handsomely.
So, in concluding, whether you are an undergraduate student or a mechanic in the backstreets of Yorkshire, you will gain no end of enjoyment and knowledge from this well-written text on one of the most interesting aspects of physics. In writing this book, Gribbin has achieved what few of the science community can achieve - he has explained an incredibly complex piece to the layman successfully and has not lost any of the content along the way. If you're looking for a strong foundation in Physics, you've found it; and for only just over a fiver, who can complain?