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on 13 December 2011
I recently purchased this book, with the intent of teaching my dog physics. Although my dog is always enthusiastic and eager to learn new things, we felt this book did not help. Please be warned, if purchasing this item and you too assume this book will aid in your quest to teach your dog Quantum Physics, I feel you will also feel rather disappointed.
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on 3 April 2012
I was increasingly disappointed as I read this book. By the end I was even a little cross. I bought the Kindle edition (yes, the proofing really is bad!) and was looking forward to discovering what the author believed to be true, and what I could learn, not what he did not believe. Maybe junking spirituality is scientific? And he doesn't seem to have grasped what life energy is all about.

Nature works to the same rules whatever the size of the specimen. And it's really simple too. If the answer is 6.6262 x 10 -34 J/S then either you're asking the wrong question or you're measuring the wrong thing.
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on 7 June 2011
Taught me within 40 pages that I don't need to know about quantum physics. Gave up.Had to give it one star because the machine doesn't allow me to give it none.
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on 1 January 2012
When I started this book I loved the idea; however, I think it takes the idea too far and becomes not so much boring as tiresome. It does explain some subjects really well (I am not an expert, just interested in the subject).

You could love this book and really love the many, many dog analogies - I started to find them a bit forced and it started to get on my nerves.

Maybe I was tired and I may revisit the book in the future and wonder why I was so grouchy... but I don't think so.

Sorry - I wanted to love this book!
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on 8 March 2012
The Kindle edition of this book follows the same tradition of many Kindle editions being little more than an afterthought by the publisher. Thankfully, it does not want to use its own font! Other than that, it has it all: inconsistent formatting, weird substitutions (the word 'left' has been replaced with 'indent' absolutely everywhere in the text: "If we start the experiment with a single photon in the indent half, we find that over time, it will slowly move into the right half" -- what?!), the occasional run together words ("the initial photon-onthe-indent state" -- a twofer!), hyphens in the middle of some words, exponents and subscripts rendered as regular text ("1036" instead of ten to the power of 36, or "6.626 × 10-34 kg m2/s" for the value of Planck's constant), badly paged captions for figures, references to page numbers (useless on the Kindle), annoying footnotes that are links that need to be clicked instead of real footnotes, and so on. Quite irritating, and distracting from an otherwise rather nice book.
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2012
Since the day I rescued copies of the original "Mr Tomkins" books from a school library "discard" pile, I've always been an enthusiastic reader of books which try to explain advanced science and technology concepts in a fun way, and this book (and it's newer counterpart about relativity) caught my eye recently.

The concept is simple: Chad Orzel's dog, Emmy, may be a typical mutt obsessed with walks, squirrels and discarded food, but she's also intelligent enough to have a basic grasp of quantum concepts, and a view to how they might be exploited in her favour, for example by passing simultaneously around both sides of a tree to catch a squirrel. Each chapter starts with Chad explaining why "it's not quite like that", and going on to explain the real physics to her in some detail. This works well, breaking up some quite complex discussions with amusing dialogue between master and hound, and makes the book eminently readable.

The books scores because it's bang up to date, and goes beyond the basic quantum concepts into more complex areas like decoherence, entanglement and quantum teleportation, supplementing explanations of the basic concepts and "thought experiments" with the details and outcomes of relatively recent experimental verification. Similarly "quantum" is the current buzzword beloved of pseudo-scientific charlatans, and the last chapter is a timely effort to debunk those who abuse it for get-rich-quick schemes and medical quackery.

I also particularly liked the way that the author is not afraid to embrace the concepts of measurement errors and accuracy. These are vital tools to understand how well, or badly, something has been established, and I was very pleased to see such an accessible book using them well.

The explanations themselves are a mixed bunch, some being very complicated and taking me a couple of goes to read and absorb. Given that I probably have rather more background that the target demographic (I do have a good Physics degree, albeit a few years old) this may mean that some readers could struggle with the most complex parts. I suspect a few more diagrams in these areas might have helped. However overall the book succeeds, and will probably prompt keen readers to re-read or seek out secondary explanations where they don't understand first time.

In the Kindle edition some of the graphics are a page or two adrift of the relevant text, and the footnotes (which often contain important or amusing asides) are presented in a bunch at the end of each chapter, which is not very reader friendly. I suspect the paper version of the book is better in this respect.

This books is well worth reading, and has certainly helped to refresh and update my understanding of a complex field, while giving me a welcome laugh at the dog's antics. I look forward to reading the relativity volume later this year.
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on 28 December 2013
My Dad's a retired Superintendent Radiographer and was also a secondary school Physics teacher later in life and so this book made an ideal little Christmas gift for him. He had a stroke recently and so anything that holds his attention these days and makes him laugh is always a huge bonus to me. And although he is still only a few chapters in, he reckons that it is a very good as well as an 'accessible' read so far. And amazingly, it only cost me just 14p for a brand new sealed copy plus p&p too?!!

I am unfortunately very ignorant on such matters myself due to a very poor school education that required a lot of hard work to catch up on when at College - and, in all honesty, Physics and Chemistry were definitely NOT my favourite subjects! However, I may just sneak a little read of this book in the New Year, if only just see if I can understand, or maybe even learn something from it?

I'm not quite sure exactly what kind of impression it has left on our dog, Tia-Maria, though? - but still she did consent to sit quietly on my Dad's knee and listen (in what did appear to be a fascinated silence?) while he read some of the key points out to her? Our other dog, Mitzi-Ditzi, however was distinctly less interested and she chose to crawl under the sofa in search of any 'vintage' Bonio crumbs instead!!! ;o>
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on 3 March 2012
Well, it certainly has a unique selling point.

A quixotic quest, you would think: rendering the world of quantum physics understandable for the layman - approached quixotically: by fabricating a dialogue between the author, a physics professor, and his rabbit-chasing, treat-loving Alsatian dog.

There is something oddly Socratic about Orzal's interlocutions with Emmy the Alsatian. Only in the Dialogues, no-one says "that sounds ridiculous, Socrates". Emmy has no such qualms.

As a conceptual device it works as well as it can be expected to, though at times both Chad and Emmy expect too much of their readers. That is one smart dog.

Over the years I've read plenty of popular science treatments of quantum physics (more than your average bear, I dare say, but of course that's not to say I necessarily understood them), and I still found my eyes glazing over at some of the depth to which Orzal was obliged (or at any rate inclined) to descend in expounding quantum theory. Emmy stays with him throughout, and eggs him on.

I have always harboured suspicions about the scientific inviolability claimed of this sort of physics. Real, falsifiable empirical evidence seems in short supply (often being suspiciously forbidden by the very terms of the theory, or at least buried under many sedimentary layers of mathematical assumption) and quantum effects have a habit of conveniently being unobservable in any dimension meaningful to everyday life. Or vanishing (er, I mean, collapsing the wave function) when you try to measure them.

Which, to this old sceptic, gives them a religious sort of disposition - true by definition; true because smart men learned in arcane lore say so. (I should say I'm not alone in this view: properly credentialised physicists like Peter Woit and Lee Smolin have also expressed it).

That said, Orzal is no (ahem) dogmatist (indeed, trying to de-mystify the scriptures as he does makes him more like a sort of Lutheran reformer), and I think is prepared to admit of some missing links in the overall theory (I couldn't work out whether quantum entanglement, which is "non local", falsifies relativity or not).

Then again, the only practical upshot I could derive of all this colossally brain-contorting discipline is the possibility of "quantum computing" - apparently faster and cheaper than boring old silicon.

Orzal's main objective, finally arrived at in the closing chapter, is to debunk phoney new age baloney which purports to trade on quantum underpinnings - quantum healing, and that kind of thing. This is done effectively, but at some cost: by underlining the singular uselessness of quantum theory in every day volumes, velocities and quantities. Whenever it would come in handy (often, when chasing squirrels, as Emmy astutely observes), by its own theory, quantum effects would be unobservably minuscule.

Which makes this old goat wonder why we bother digging up the Swiss countryside and dropping trillions of dollars of supercooled electromagnets into it just to find another unobservable subatomic particle. Surely we can figure out whether quantum computing works by trying to building a quantum computer?

In the final analysis, and as other reviewers have said, I put this book down having a better general understanding of the gist of a number of really quite difficult concepts - enough to keep my end of the conversation up if sat next to a physicist at dinner - even if the details and implications below that remain entirely murky - and so in that regard, it is a tough job imaginatively and successfully done.

And, now matter how cute the device seems, you can't help but like the irrepressible Emmy, even if she does understand Schrodinger's indeterminacy better than I do.

Olly Buxton
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on 8 January 2012
I have a theory about books on quantum physics, which is that their capacity to engage the lay reader is inversely proportional to the number of the page he or she is currently reading. This book contributes to my ad hoc evidence base, though it does a creditable job and will likely merit a second and third reading before I can claim to have truly 'collapsed its wave function'. It's essentially a primer on the grand themes of quantum physics - but with dogs. The author's pet plays the 'dog on the Clapham omnibus', listening to his didactic outline of each such theme and then posing the questions we might ask if we were there. It's basically a good idea and the 'dog' theme provides material for contrasting everyday objects with things on a quantum scale, but it's also unquestionably corny at times. The main problem, though, is that the dog invariably fails to ask all the other questions that inevitably arise when the finer points of some terribly subtle experiment aren't explained clearly enough. In this, it's rather like those lists of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) that never seem to feature the questions we would actually want to ask. All that said, it's a contemporary introduction to the science and about as accessible as we have any right to expect of a book that confronts humankind's most esoteric body of theory. It also scores bonus points for including a chapter on the misappropriation of quantum physics by New Agers and quacks.

Regarding the Kindle edition, this has got to be the worst example of proofing I have yet to experience. There are, as you would expect, quite a lot of numbers, algebraic formulas and diagrams, and in a book such as this the consistent failure of attention to such details is of consequence that is simply unacceptable to a paying customer. The representation of exponents is occasionally correct but often not, in which case we read, for example, '1036' instead of 10 raised to the 36th power, or '10-21 seconds' instead of 1 divided by 10 to the 21st power. There are frequent occurrences of two particular idiosyncrasies, the substitution in text of the word 'indent' for 'left' and the substitution in formulas of '|' for '<'. The former, which is no doubt some markup artifact of an automated conversion of the text, results in such initially baffling passages as 'sometimes she wags her tail farther to the right, sometimes farther to the indent'. The latter, again likely some markup meta-confusion, gives us such unintelligible formulae as 'a|V> + b|H>', where presumably the more straightforward 'a<V> + b<H>' is intended. Algebra aside, given that this book relies so heavily on dialogue it shows a woeful inconsistency in its formatting, such that it's occasionally difficult to tell whether it's the author or the dog who is speaking. The message is clear - buy the paperback*, not the Kindle download.

(*Having visited my local WHS and checked out the paperback, I notice that the '|' v '<' issue appears in all the same places, so either the formatting is correct or the paperback is wrong too. The 'indent' and other problems are indeed Kindle-specific.)
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on 30 June 2016
Entanglement! Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle! Virtual particles! The many worlds interpretation! Particle-wave duality! These are just a few of the phenomena that are explained by quantum physics, the world of sub-atomic particles, where some of the weirdest things imaginable happen, and happen constantly!

I must admit I was initially put off by the title of this book as I wondered whether it was just dumbing down quantum physics. But the author is a genuine physics professor and, trust me, it’s impossible to dumb down quantum physics! The reason for the title is because the whole book is based around the author explaining quantum mechanics to his dog, who fictitiously talks back to him. It sounds a bit silly I know, but the dog actually represents the everyday person, and asks the sort of questions you and I would ask when confronted with all this quantum weirdness, so it works really well.

In fact this is definitely the most accessible book I’ve read on this subject and thanks to the author’s very entertaining use of light-heartedness and humour I was able to understand just enough to keep me interested and coming back for more. The author acknowledges that some of the questions quantum physics raises about the nature of reality are so profound that physicists almost have to become philosophers as well. Certainly some of the concepts discussed in this book are mind-blowing and a little unsettling from a classical science point of view, but very exciting at the same time! So if you fancy learning a bit about science at its most weird then this book is an ideal jumping on point.
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