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This is mostly a history of the important experiments and personalities involved in the history of QM. This book does not teach how to think about QM so as not to be perplexed. The basic premise seems to be it is perplexing, live with it. This book firmly in the "shut up and calculate" camp of QM. If may familiarize you with a few important QM experiments and people, but it not prepare you to understand the trouble with QM and it might (unfortunately) convince you that the universe is queerer than you can suppose.
The author feels he has an advantage over the reader in that he has concluded there are no simple explanations for quantum mechanics. I find this both silly and sad. Simple explanations in science generally seem unlikely (and are denied by all reasonable scientists) until they are uncovered. Deciding no reasonable explanation is possible seems limiting and foolish. I find books that describe quantum mechanics as weird, mysterious, strange, irrational, or beyond understanding to be tedious. What should be presented is the results of QM measurements with minimal interpretation or complication and without discussion of what might be happening between measurements. This book does just the opposite, focusing on the oddness between measurements.
On the upside, this book describes several "interpretations" of quantum mechanics and (unlike most books on this subject) includes (and does not totally trash) De broli Bohm theory.
There are lots of primers of QM and I have read many. This one is not one of my favorites, but it does present the basics in a traditional way. The narration is particularly clear and easy to understand. Up to now I generally recommend Lindley’s Uncertainty and Smolin's The Trouble with Physics.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
I have read or listened to about 10 books on quantum physics, and this is the BEST by far.
It’s both accurate and clear. It includes virtually no math. Achieving accuracy and clarity in this field while avoiding math is quite a feat. The book is suitable for readers who have a good basic knowledge of the concepts of quantum physics. It is probably not for raw beginners. However, mathematical knowledge is not required.
Among many other aspects of quantum physics, the book elucidates Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the true source of which is often mischaracterized, even in quantum mechanics textbooks.
This book might also be quite interesting to those who have a good mathematical understanding of quantum physics but may lack thorough understanding of quantum theory. For those who have studied the “shut up and calculate” school of quantum mechanics, this book might be extremely informative.
Jim Al-Khalili, the author, is an accomplished nuclear physicist who has made important contributions to the field. He's also a superb communicator of difficult scientific concepts. He has created and hosted numerous popular science documentaries.
The narration is also superb, the best of the 10 or so Audible books that I've listened to.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Well written and well read. For such a mind bending topic, the audiobook flowed well and kept to a good pace.
Even for a quantum layman, I felt this was a great overview of this fascinating topic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in stretching their mind a little.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Jim Al-Kalili certainly makes quantum physics more accessible to the lay person non-scientist. A few times I felt like I was just hearing words, but most of the time I was getting it, I think. As much as anyone can really wrap their head around quantum physics. I do feel like I know more and understand the topic better.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
It explains all the big ideas and their context, while also reinforcing the doubts I have.
Great narrator and an even greater author, made the complex ideas of QM easy to understand.