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on 16 January 2018
The dialog may be suitable for a video presentation where you have images to focus on as the author rambles along, but not so in book form.
Although I have enjoyed Dr Al-Khahili's BBC videos on the subject. I found this book annoyingly confusing.
The problem is his juxtaposition of of possibilities and facts; i.e. is the paragraph a presentation of the students question, or the teaches answer.
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on 20 July 2017
Good reading think l will have to read again heavy going
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on 27 March 2017
Still perplexed! Most of it way over my head but also some interesting insights into the key people behind the development of the quantum theories.
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on 17 November 2017
Tough read at times (due to subject matter) but very enlightening. Well worth a read if you want to gain an understanding of the quantum world
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on 5 March 2015
Exciting subject made accessible in an enthusiastic style from developments to contemporary knowledge
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on 18 July 2017
Excellent book. Still reading it but it explains things in a clear way (and without maths so far!)
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on 13 June 2017
A very helpful account.
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on 9 June 2017
I would recommend this book to anyone seeking an introduction to quantum mechanics. I am well read in this area, yet I have learnt some new things, like how the Fourier transform on the wave function gives a mathematical reason for Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Khalili doesn't gloss over the counter-intuitive, not to mention weird, aspects of quantum physics. In fact, he does his best to explain that the 'quantum world' is totally consistent within the confines of its mathematical rules whilst defying all attempts to explain its physical manifestations based on our everyday experience.

He only includes one equation in the book, for 'aesthetic reasons', which he calls 'the most important equation in physics': Schrodinger's equation (John Barrow gives it the same status). Not all physicists agree, like Carlo Rovelli, who argues that the wave function is a fiction and therefore an illusory mathematical tool. Khalili, on the other hand, makes the wave function central to his exposition on virtually all aspects of the subject, whilst acknowledging its existence outside mathematics is not an undisputed fact. However, only a wave function can provide a visual analogue for physical phenomena that are unique to quantum mechanics like superposition and entanglement.
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on 1 April 2016
Anything he does is good. TV, radio, books. Would like to see something a bit "heavier" from him, without checking out his doctoral thesis. Thought provoking and explains many things I did not understand during my chemistry degree (42 years ago). Come on Jim, get writing.
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on 1 July 2013
I'd studied quantum mechanics at university nearly 50 years ago so I had a good idea what to expect in terms of the unexpected but Jim Al-Khalili made a better fist of explaining the subject than my chemistry lecturers had done all those years ago - and without delving into advanced maths. This is the third or fourth popular science book on quantum mechanics that I've read in recent months and it is by far the best. Jim has done an excellent job of explaining the principles of this complex field and approaches the subject in quite a light hearted way with little injections of humour here and there which make the subject matter feel less remote and the author more human. It is also reassuring that he states several times that no-one really understands what is going on at the quantum level, beyond, that is, what is mathematically calculated or experimentally observed, because it is so divorced from what we experience in the macro world, with most of it being counter-intuitive and bordering on the metaphysical. This repeated reassurance at least means that readers realise they are not alone in puzzling over the deeper significance of quantum physics.

The last couple of chapters tried to cover too much ground, in my view, and consequently were less understandable than what had gone before. Many of the points discussed were extremely speculative. Also, when discussing some aspects of molecular biology, Jim seemed to draw a distinction between what he would call a "quantum effect" and what I would refer to as "ordinary chemistry". All of chemistry is underpinned by quantum mechanics so this distinction appears out of place.

Some parts I couldn't follow, such as the descriptions of superstring theory and M-theory, but I suspect that this is because these topics do require a mathematical approach which is outside the scope of the book. Also, most of the chapters end with a short discourse by a guest author and I found these to be hit and miss, depending, I suppose, on how good each author is in explaining the subject matter to non-physicists. I'm not convinced these sequels added much to the book and it might have been better to have omitted them.

But, overall, this is an excellent book, providing a first-rate, non-mathematical introduction to the quantum world.
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