• Quantum

  • A Guide for the Perplexed
  • By: Jim Al-Khalili
  • Narrated by: Hugh Kermode
  • Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 04-28-16
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (323 ratings)

Regular price: $21.31

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Publisher's Summary

From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world.
Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half alive and half dead at the same time?
Our journey into the quantum begins with nature's own conjuring trick, in which we discover that atoms - contrary to the rules of everyday experience - can exist in two locations at once. To understand this we travel back to the dawn of the 20th century and witness the birth of quantum theory, which over the next 100 years was to overthrow so many of our deeply held notions about the nature of our universe.
Scientists and philosophers have been left grappling with its implications ever since.
Read by Hugh Kermode.
©2003 Jim Al-Khalili (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 05-02-17

Run of the Mill QM Primer

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.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alexandra Hopkins on 10-23-16

Best ever intermediate book on quantum physics

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.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ross M. on 10-07-16

This is a truly excellent read!

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.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mr. J. A. Ball on 11-05-16

A little less perplexed.

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.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 12-14-17

an outstanding book.

It explains all the big ideas and their context, while also reinforcing the doubts I have.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 09-04-17

Amazing book!

Great narrator and an even greater author, made the complex ideas of QM easy to understand.

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