Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You


Apparently Richard Feynman (a noted physicist who received a Nobel Prize) said: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”  I quote that because, even after listening to this book, I don’t fully understand all the principles and theories.  This was another audiobook, picked with the intention of trying to get a better understanding of a complex topic.

It succeeded in as much as I know more about the subject than I did before I listened to the book, but the quote from Feynman does at least provide me with some comfort.  Mind you, I learnt enough to understand why the recent discovery of neutrinos that appear to have travelled faster than light has grabbed so many headlines, and what it could mean for quantum theory.  So maybe nobody understands the laws of quantum physics (or, more likely, an explanation for how these particles got to their destination quicker than expected will be found).

Anyway, the book covers many of the facets of quantum theory, and if I had a penny for every time Einstein is mentioned, I’d be rich.  Amongst the subjects covered are special and general relativity, probability waves, quantum entanglement, gravity, and the Big Bang.

To put those into perspective, the book covers how stars manufacture the various elements we find in the universe, how there is so much space in each atom that, if you could remove it, the entire Earth would compress to the size of a sugar cube.  It talks about quantum computing, how time and space, things we think of as constant, compress and expand, and how gravity doesn’t exist (at least, not in the way you think).  Also mentioned are that all energy has weight, even light, so a warm cup of coffee actually weighs more than a cold one.

It’s a fascinating, if somewhat mind-bending subject and the book does a pretty good job or navigating your way through it, while avoiding equations in favour of real-world examples.  Certainly worth a go.

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This was an copy of the book

Reviewed: 15th October 2011