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Quantum Physics For Dummies [Paperback]

Steven Holzner
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 3 2009 0470381884 978-0470381885
Quantum Physics For Dummies helps make quantum physics understandable and accessible. From what quantum physics can do for the world to understanding hydrogen atoms, readers will get complete coverage of the subject, along with numerous examples to help them tackle the tough equations. Compatible with classroom text books and courses, Quantum Physics For Dummies lets students study at their own paces and helps them prepare for graduate or professional exams. Coverage includes:
  • The Schrodinger Equation and its Applications
  • The Foundations of Quantum Physics
  • Vector Notation
  • Spin
  • Scattering Theory, Angular Momentum, and more

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Your plain-English guide to understanding and working with the micro world

Quantum physics — also called quantum mechanics or quantum field theory — can be daunting for even the most dedicated student or enthusiast of science, math, or physics. This friendly, concise guide makes this challenging subject understandable and accessible, from atoms to particles to gases and beyond. Plus, it's packed with fully explained examples to help you tackle the tricky equations like a pro!

  • Compatible with any classroom course — study at your own pace and prepare for graduate or professional exams

  • Your journey begins here — understand what quantum physics is and what kinds of problems it can solve

  • Know the basic math — from state vectors to quantum matrix manipulations, get the foundation you need to proceed

  • Put quantum physics to work — make sense of Schrödinger's equation and handle particles bound in square wells and harmonic oscillators

  • Solve problems in three dimensions — use the full operators to handle wave functions and eigenvectors to find the natural wave functions of a system

  • Discover the latest research — learn the cutting-edge quantum physics theories that aim to explain the universe itself

Open the book and find:

  • What quantum physics has contributed to daily life

  • The real-world impact of 3D quantum physics

  • The basics of angular momentum and spin

  • How to understand hydrogen atoms, perturbation theory, and scattering theory

  • Tips for figuring out complex equations

  • How to work with multiple-particle systems

  • Classic quantum physics problems

About the Author

Steven Holzner taught physics at Cornell University for more than ten years. He also taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has written more than 95 books about programming. Holzner is the author of Differential Equations For Dummies.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Physics as a general discipline has no limits, from the very huge (galaxy-wide) to the very small (atoms and smaller). Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for Dummies! Jan. 13 2012
By R&D
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has the wrong title! Is is definitely not for Dummies. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who hasn't taken at least a second year course in quantum physics.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite good for the right audience Feb. 5 2009
By B. Style - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Maybe it shouldn't be a "for dummies" book -- but if you've read a few of the laymen's books on QM and are ready for something meatier, but aren't quite ready for a formal text, this is a great place to start. You'll need a basic appreciation of matrix-style math, partial derivatives, and integral calculus (say mid-level engineering math). An appreciation for basic physics is also required: energy, momentum, field potential, etc.

If you've got those basics, this is an extremely gentle introduction. Within an hour you'll understand the basics of the wave equation and bra-ket notation. But as with any math-based approach, even an informal one, the book has to be read carefully.

Without the basics outlined above, the book is a total bust. At the other extreme, anyone who's completed a college level course in QM will likely learn zip. For someone who's gained a qualitative appreciation for QM and wants to take the next somewhat rigorous step, this is THE book.

I'm self taught in most of this, so I can't say whether there are many serious errors/typos -- but I didn't see any glaring ones. There is one incredibly bizarre bit of notation in the first chapter where the author illustrates a simple state vector containing the square roots of 2, 3, 4, etc -- but uses 1/2 exponents that are almost the same size as the numbers, so it looks like 2 1/2, 3 1/2. etc., which didn't make any sense. After a bit of head scratching it clicked -- but aside from this peculiar example, I found the overall presentation to be quite readable.

The publisher could really do everyone a big favor by making "search inside" available.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Dummies Nov. 30 2009
By J. B. Busch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If this book is for dummies ,I shudder to think what that makes me,several grades below imbecle probably. I have read other books in the Dummies series,calculus, geometry,etc,and generally understood what the author was saying,but I only made it to pg 27 before hitting a brick wall.I thought my understanding of maths would be sufficient ,but I was sadly mistaken.I was looking for a much simplified explanation,but given the nature of Quantum Physics ,my guess is such an explanation does not exist.Therefore I find it difficult to rate this book given that I understood so little of it.However I will use this review to warn that this is very definitely not a book to be judged by it's cover. Three stars
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quantum Physics For University Quantum Physics Students Nov. 7 2010
By Robert John Midyett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot judge this book on its own merits, because, to be honest I couldn't understand or follow it. (Anyone considering the purchase of this book, please first take advantage of the "Look Inside" feature, finally available for it.)

It is obvious, after reading the introduction and the first chapter that this book would be better titled, "Quantum Physics For University Quantum Physics Students".

It is this reason why I rate this with a single star.

The quality of the book might be very good, and it might answer many questions, for a university student currently struggling with a quantum physics course -- but that I cannot judge, and that is, in my opinion, not the point.

The "Dummies series" has a history of providing information for the average person, which was what I expected when I ordered the book. I have no interest in becoming a physicist, but since we so often encounter references to facets of the topics, I wished to at least gain a basic working understanding of the ideas.

Without a doubt, to date, the best introductory resource I have been able to find on the topic has been the book, "The Quantum World" by Kenneth W. Ford. I have not yet reviewed Ford's book, because I have not yet completed it, but I already know that I will give it a very high review. Another fair book in this category is "Six Easy Pieces" by Richard P. Feynman -- which I have also not reviewed (because I have also not finished the book). The problem is that the topics are so complex that I have found that I have begun reading them up to a point where I could no longer follow, and then had to begin re-reading them from the beginning -- each time getting further and further into the book and understanding more and more until I reach another point where I can no longer follow, and need to begin again. Still, neither of these two books could reasonably be considered for the "Dummies series", but they do a far better job of it than "Quantum Physics For Dummies". [Both, the Ford and Feyman books I mentioned, can also be ordered here on Amazon.]

To be fair, in the "Foolish Assumptions" section of the introduction of the book being reviewed here, it specifically states:

"I don't assume that you have any knowledge of quantum phyics when you start to read this book. However, I do make the following assumptions:

* You're taking a college course in quantum physics, or you're interested in how math describes motion and energy on the atomic and subatomic scale.
* You have some math prowess. In particular, you know some calculus. You don't need to be a math pro, but you should know how to perform integration and deal with differential equations. Ideally, you also have some experience with Hilbert space.
* You have some physics background as well. You've had a year's worth of college-level physics (or understand all that's in Physics For Dummies) before you tackle this one."

But this "waiver" does not alter my rating. These assumptions should have made it very clear, to all parties involved, that this book, obviously, does not have the right to be considered for the "Dummies series".

Sadly, the concepts are so complex that I don't feel that I will ever find the perfect introductory resource in a mere book. In the mid-1990's, there was a considerable amount of activity in the realm of "multi-media" informational software for personal computers. The better titles offered a learning experience unrivaled by any other medium. With the combination of audio narration, to accompany the written text, along with still color graphics and video segments, the titles maximized the potential of properly conveying the information.

We can only hope that some software company, or education group, will recognize the need and market for such a work and hire Kenneth W. Ford to, first, update his book "The Quantum World", and use that as a basis for a collaboration with appropriate graphics artists to produce a multi-media series of computer software and video documentaries to present the information in a manner that is easily understood by any high-school graduate, with no prior knowledge of physics or calculus -- in "bite-sized Dummies-series style".
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes hard concepts easy March 4 2009
By Tamzannnn - Published on Amazon.com
This is a great book for making hard concepts easy. The topic is a hard one, but Quantum Physics for Dummies makes it as easy as it can be made. There are numerous worked-out examples, and everything is discussed in detail. The book makes things clear that so many other books leave you totally in the dark about. I used it to help get my through my college course on quantum physics! If you want to learn quantum Physics, this is the book for you.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most bang for the buck March 23 2009
By quark - Published on Amazon.com
Unlike so many of these types of books which teach you how to solve specific problems, but, because they provide no explanation of what you are doing, leave you clueless when you want to understand related topics not discussed in the book, Quantum Physics for Dummies shows you not only how to solve a problem but explains what is going on.

It provides just the right balance between problem solving and explanation. When I was a student, physics consisted almost exclusively of teaching you what equation to use to solve for different types of problems without telling you why you were doing this. This book explains the concepts behind the formulae rather than just taking a fill-in-the-blank approach. I wish these things had been explained to me back in the day.

The examples and exposition have been carefully thought out to give the reader "the most bang for the buck." It also recognizes that not all readers, especially adults, have the time to read every week. By reviewing equations that the reader may have forgotten, it saves the reader a lot of time and frustration.

I would recommend this book both for adults who now regret not having taken more science, or did not have the opportunity to do so, as well as for those currently studying physics. Students who are faced with a poor teacher or textbook will find it not just an extremely useful supplement but a good deal more than that. Because the problems are explained so well, students will be able to face problems with both a better understanding and confidence.

Adult readers will not feel that they are being talked down to because the writing is clear, accessible, lucid and to the point. While entertaining, it is entertaining to put the reader at ease, not to make him or her feel that they need a light-hearted approach because the reader is out of his or her league. Rather, they will feel more like they are engaged in a discussion with that professor you wished you had had, but didn't.
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