The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw
"The Quantum Universe" is the interesting book about the subatomic realm. Well known physicist and science celebrity Brian Cox along with fellow physicist Jeff Forshaw take us into the intimidating world of quantum mechanics. Using the latest in scientific understanding and creative analogies these scientists make complex topics accessible to the masses. This 272-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. Something Strange Is Afoot, 2. Being in Two Places at Once, 3. What Is a Particle? 4. Everything That Can Happen Does Happen, 5. Movement as an Illusion, 6. The Music of the Atoms, 7. The Universe in a Pin-head (and Why We Don't Fall Through the Floor), 8. Interconnected, 9. The Modern World, 10. Interaction, and 11. Empty Space Isn't Empty.
1. The ability of great scientists to communicate to the masses.
2. Fascinating topic in the hands of experts. Well researched and well written.
3. Finally, a book about quantum mechanics that I can comprehend and in the process I didn't perceive it was "dumbed" down either. Most importantly, it kept my interest and I learned while doing so. Bravo!
4. Great use of charts and illustrations to assist the reader. Many concepts of physics defy common logic so the choice of sound illustrations is a must in order to understand the concepts. As an example, the use of clocks to understand particles.
5. Grounding what we know based on the best knowledge that science can offer. The authors do a wonderful job of explaining the scientific process and defining what a good scientific theory is all about.
6. This is strictly a science book. The authors are focused on quantum mechanics, not on the supernatural or making fun of those who do. In fact, the term "God" or "Creator" was never articulated! In other words, these authors don't take unnecessary cheap shots and they handle this topic with the utmost respect and care.
7. Effective use of math, math is vital in understanding physics but the authors know their target audience well and provide the math necessary to enhance the level of comprehension. The authors don't make the mistake of other books that bombard readers with esoteric equations and don't follow up with a comprehensive narration.
8. Great explanation of why the laws of quantum theory replace Newton's laws.
9. The authors seamlessly capture discoveries and their discoverers throughout the book.
10. The unique characteristics of the electron, and I mean unique.
11. I'm in awe of science! It's truly amazing how a basic understanding of quantum theory can lead one to understand the observed properties of some of the most massive objects in the universe.
12. The great Richard Feynman and his contributions to quantum mechanics...the understanding of subatomic particles. "Feynman is a second Dirac, only this time human". A giant of the subatomic world.
13. Understanding that being counterintuitive (moving away from common experience) is common in quantum mechanics. In other words, embrace your weirdness.
14. Fascinating tidbits throughout such as it was often claimed that the youth of the scientists allowed them to free themselves of old ways of thinking and thus be able to understand the world of quantum theory. Of course there are exceptions...Schrodinger.
15. The probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics...the loss of predictive power, even Einstein was bothered with it.
16. The least action principle...a cornerstone of physics.
17. The Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle...it's amazing how being annoyed by the attention that Schrodinger received would drive a great scientist to his own version of quantum theory. We are talking about great scientists, not reality-TV stars. Goes to show that even scientists are humans too.
18. The brief history of Planck's constant. He was able to explain the black body spectrum...the rest is well, history.
19. The fascinating result of how to describe a moving particle. The de Broglie equation and how it works and wave packets.
20. The vastness inside an atom and what exactly is going on inside there. If you like guitars or drums this section is for you. The term quantized is music to my ears.
21. The work of physicist Wolfgang Pauli and why we don't fall through the floor. The Pauli Exclusion Principle. Great stuff.
22. The book does touch up on cosmology and you know that is always fun.
23. The periodic table an interesting narrative.
24. Atomic clusters...chemical bonding, semiconductors.
25. An appreciation for one of the most important inventions ever, the transistor. Thank you quantum theory.
26. Profound thoughts and concepts: "Every electron in the Universe knows about the state of every other electron". And that goes for protons and neutrons too.
27. Understanding the utility of semiconductor materials. Who knew physics was so much fun?
28. The nature of interaction between particles. Quantum field theory and its rules.
29. Quantum electrodynamics (QED), the theory that explains how particles interact with each other and photons. Once again thank you Mr. Feynman and Schwinger and company.
30. Anti-matter or an electron travelling backwards in time. Remember, embrace your weirdness. Oh and it does get weird.
31. A survey of The Standard Model of particle physics. Come on Large Hadron Collider (LHC)...
32. A list of all the known particles and if we are lucky with the aforementioned LHC certainly more will be added to the list.
33. How modern physics aim to provide an answer to "what is the origin of mass?" The key...the Higgs boson, come on LHC. Branching rules.
34. An interesting Epilogue on the death of Stars. Fascinating stuff, applied science at its best.
1. Quantum mechanics is complicated there is no ifs and buts about it. Even at the most accessible level some concepts will not be comprehended. Many concepts of physics defy common logic and so some patience is needed to go over some of the topics.
2. Furthermore, this is not the type of book that you can jump from one topic to another without paying a price. Some concepts need to be learned first before you can move on to understand new concepts. The use of clocks (as an analogy) to understand waves is fundamental to understanding the concepts being conveyed. I can't stress that enough. Once you understand how the analogy works you will progress through the book. Patience, focus and some caffeine.
3. Further reading section would have been enhanced with a complete bibliography.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The authors made comprehending such complex topics fun which is an accomplishment in its own right. The introductory knowledge that I have obtained by this book helps me gain a better understanding of our world. My love of knowledge is rewarded by great books like The Quantum Universe". We know so little about world but every little bit of knowledge that we do obtain through the endeavors of science just gives me a sense of awe that no other human experience can match. The quest for knowledge is the most fulfilling journey any human can take. Do yourself a favor and don't hesitate to get the "The Quantum Universe".
Further suggestions: "A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing" by Lawrence M. Krauss, "About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang" by Adam Frank, "Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . ." by Philip Plait, "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking, and "The Age of Everything: How Science Explores the Past" by Mathew Hedman.