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Introducing Quantum Theory [Paperback]

J P Mcevoy , Oscar Zarate
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 29 2008 1840468505 978-1840468502
Quantum theory confronts us with bizarre paradoxes which contradict the logic of classical physics. At the subatomic level, one particle seems to know what the others are doing, and according to Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle", there is a limit on how accurately nature can be observed. And yet the theory is amazingly accurate and widely applied, explaining all of chemistry and most of physics. "Introducing Quantum Theory" takes us on a step-by-step tour with the key figures, including Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrodinger. Each contributed at least one crucial concept to the theory. The puzzle of the wave-particle duality is here, along with descriptions of the two questions raised against Bohr's "Copenhagen Interpretation" - the famous "dead and alive cat" and the EPR paradox. Both remain unresolved.

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About the Author

Oscar Zarate is one of the UK's leading graphic artists. He has illustrated numerous Introducing titles. His graphic novel A Small Killing won the Will Eisner Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book March 10 2004
I already had the Introducing Logic book, which I thought was excellent, so I thought I'd try this one too in the series. I certainly never thought I'd see a book on quantum physics that was as good as this one done in such a cartoon-like style. I really liked the Introducting Logic book, and I wasn't disappointed with this one either. It presents the many strange and even paradoxical phenomena of quantum physics in a clear and concise way, and the illustrations are a fun and amusing way of keeping the reader's attention while helping to further the reader's understanding of the concepts. Even presented in such an engaging way, however, they're still not easy. Quantum physics is just not very intuitive and you just have to get used to that fact, but this book will give you a basic understanding of the area without too much cognitive anguish and serious brain strain.
After reading this book, if you're interested in further material, the late, great Richard Feynman's book, QED, is still the best introduction for the non-specialist. It contains almost no math and Feynman uses mainly spatial concepts to illustrate and explain quantum electrodynamics in a less mathematical, more intuitive way with his usual wit, enthusiasm, and style. The concepts are explained clearly and concisely in a way that is accessible to the layman and non-physicist. After reading this book, if you're interested in a more mathematical treatment, I would recommend the R.I.G. Hughes book, The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Theory. It uses a little calculus, but mostly sticks to presenting the mathematics of quantum linear algebra, vector spaces, tensors, and matrix theory as developed by David Hilbert specifically for use in quantum mechanics. It's much more technical than Feynman's book but will give you a much better understanding of quantum mechanics in terms of the mathematical theory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Understanding Quantum Theory" was the first text that we turned to in a course I took last semester, which studied the philosophical implications of quantum theories... the logic, I imagine, was that complex and counter-intuitive concepts would be more palatable in faux-comic-book form...
I'm afraid this didn't turn out to be the case, While the illustrations are fantastic -- reminiscent of ink-heavy works such as Art Spiegelman's incredible "Maus" -- the concepts are no easier to grasp. The illustrations could have been used to better ends if the authors had a better idea of what makes these concepts so hard for beginners -- diagrams, when included, might have been more artistic than flat scientific sketches, but they were just as hard to interpret. The illustrations here are used, it seems, to trick the reader into thinking the concepts are simple and straightforward. The result, however, is that you (or I, at least) end up scratching your head and reading dialogue-bubbles which don't make sense in the least until the fifth or sixth reading... and even then, are often impossible to understand without a live discussion and Q & A.
Which is not to say that this text is a failure -- put aside what it was TRYING to do, and it is still a solid outline of basic quantum theory, and a good introduction to the major figures and developments in the field. The art might not make the material more accessible, but it doesn't hurt it either -- helpful or no, the illustrations make the lessons a more entertaining challenge than straight text would ever be.
BOTTOM LINE -- it's a good outline of basic quantum theories, developments, and figures. The art makes it pleasant to look at, but no less confusing to the beginner. If you're curious about the ideas involved in a radical reinterpretation of time, space, and matter as we interact with them, this is not a bad place to start.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good review of a tough subject March 26 2000
I went through the ordeal of getting a PhD in Physics many years ago; like most students of physics, I spent a lot of time diagonalizing Hamiltonians and finding eigenvalues, and not as much time as I would have liked studying the big picture. Thus, I got a lot out of this book. It helped me "connect the dots" of the islands of knowledge I have of the more general theory. I very much like the historical approach this book takes; the history of quantum mechanics really is a great story. It is always nice to hear that the guys that invented this stuff had trouble understanding it too.
I don't know how much of what I got out of this book is due to the ten years (!) I spent in college and grad school struggling with these concepts. I think a book like this should be required reading for all physics majors and graduate students. It is my hope that all interested readers would get as much enjoyment out of this book as I did, but it may be that there is just too much pre-supposed knowledge for this to be the case. All I can say is, this is about as clear as quantum mechanics gets.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A fun history and theories of Quantum Physics Dec 10 1999
I can say off the bat that I had trouble with this book. Although I learned about Schrodinger, Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein, Newton, Plank, Dirac, Born as well as their theories, I found it to be a demanding subject for anyone. Although the book is an introduction, I would gather the book presumes you have some previous knowledge of (probably findamental) algebra, chemistry, thermodynamics and a solid foundation of QED. Seriously, its a good book and well written, and made hard conecpts a little bit easier to understand. Math has never been my subject so you may have better luck with it.
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