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Quantum Physics for Poets [Hardcover]

Leon M. Lederman , Christopher T. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2011 1616142332 978-1616142339
Quantum theory is the bedrock of contemporary physics and the basis of understanding matter in its tiniest dimensions and the vast universe as a whole. But for many, the theory remains an impenetrable enigma.

Now, two physicists seek to remedy this situation by both drawing on their scientific expertise and their talent for communicating science to the general reader. In this lucid, informative book, designed for the curious, they make the seemingly daunting subject of quantum physics accessible, appealing, and exciting.

Their story is partly historical, covering the many "Eureka" moments when great scientists—Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and others—struggled to come to grips with the bizarre realities that quantum research revealed. Although their findings were indisputably proven in experiments, they were so strange and counterintuitive that Einstein refused to accept quantum theory, despite its great success.

The authors explain the many strange and even eerie aspects of quantum reality at the subatomic level, from "particles" that can be many places simultaneously and sometimes act more like waves, to the effect that a human can have on their movements by just observing them! Finally, the authors delve into quantum physics’ latest and perhaps most breathtaking offshoots—field theory and string theory. The intricacies and ramifications of these two theories will give the reader much to ponder.

In addition, the authors describe the diverse applications of quantum theory in its almost countless forms of modern technology throughout the world. Using eloquent analogies and illustrative examples, this book renders even the most profound reaches of quantum theory understandable and something for us all to savor.

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Product Description


“A sparkling and articulate new account of how the quantum revolution changed 20th century science – and, as a further delight, how physics and poetry can speak the same language.”
— Chicago Tribune

"A little gem of a book on an enormously profound and, in many ways, a mysterious subject….”
— Contemporary Physics Book Review

"Lederman and Hill, two very well known physicists, have written in a prose that speaks to the poet in all of us. A delightful and illuminating guide through the mysteries of the quantum world."
Gino Segré, department of physics and astronomy, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Leon M. LedermanNobel Laureate (Batavia, IL) is the author of Beyond the God ParticleQuantum Physics for Poets, and Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe(coauthored with Christopher T. Hill), as well as The God Particle (with Dick Teresi). He has served as the editor of Portraits of Great American Scientists and a contributor to Science Literacy for the Twenty-First Century. He is formerly the Resident Scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and Pritzker Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and he is director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Christopher T. Hill, PhD (Batavia, IL) is the coauthor with Leon M. Lederman of Beyond the God ParticleQuantum Physics for Poets, and Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe. He is a theoretical physicist (Scientist III) and the former head of Theoretical Physics at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. April 19 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First time buyer for my Kindle reader. I will purchase more books for my Kindle.
The book is very well written and anybody that is curious about quantum physics; but can't handle the math, this book is for you.
After you read this book you will have an appreciation for all the great work that physicists have done.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasic, But Not for the Initiated Feb. 8 2011
By Keith H. Bray - Published on Amazon.com
I cannot believe that this very fine book lacks a review. Perhaps the title conjures up the idea that this is a book on quantum physics and poetry--like the recent book on quantum physics and music. This is absolutely untrue and the only poetry is the poetic writing style in which this book was penned. That is not to say there that there are no poems in the contents, but these are minimal and are akin to introductory remarks like a quote for an opening chapter. I would dare say that, almost like reading a piece of good fiction, Lederman's book has a poetic flow that makes is difficult to set down. I made it a quest to finish this book before setting my sights on another book, like Briane Greene's newly released book which is still untouched on my book shelf.

Mr. Lederman (and Christopher Hill) have inflected a fantastic introductory and popular level text into the fray of many such books. There are only 10 chapters, but what makes this introductory text stand out from others is the extensive writings on familiar matters such as Thomas Young's famous 2-slit experiment. I promise the reader that, unless they are physicists, they will be introduced to a host of new insights, concepts and unexpected materials related to very familiar themes that have been glossed over in previous books. The chapters on quantum physics and chemistry are priceless and rarely highlighted in preceding books.

Like all books that are within 300-pages, the contents cannot be exhaustive. However, all of the major elements of classical and the new physics are represented. This book is not for the physicist--unless they would use it as a supplement in an introductory class on quantum physics. The matters within the books contents (which are accessible on Amazon) are meant for those interested in reading introductory level books in order to grasp some themes that may not be so easily grasped. Let me reiterate: this book ensures that so such sin will occur. You will not have to read between any lines to understand the most important and fundamental concepts of quantum physics. I apologize for the brevity of this review and will leave the work to other readers to lay out more extensive reviews. After purchasing (and you can confirm this on my personal website) hundreds of books on these matters, this book is an absolute standout.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best introduction to quantum physics June 7 2011
By Louis Weltzer - Published on Amazon.com
I am not a scientist, but over the years I have read a number of books like The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism and Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics and Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics that present the enigma that is quantum physics to a more general audience. This book is, in my opinion, easier to read and a more more in-depth treatment of this subject than any of those other excellent books. Lederman and Hill present the material in a manner that is scholarly, practical, literary and sometimes humorous. As a relatively short overview, Quantum Physics for Poets spares the lay reader most of the mathematics that is the the heart of theoretical physics, but readers may access the authors' website ([...]) where "appendices" presenting more complete discussions of various topics in classical and quantum physics may be read or downloaded. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest at all in the field of quantum physics.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - even for poets March 21 2011
By Dr. Goetz K. Oertel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lederman demonstrates his insight into the workings of quantum theory by finding analogies that can only be described as brilliant. The few poets I know might not learn enough to explain the subject to others - but they should get an appreciation for the comprehensiveness of quantum theory in its realm - and perhaps for the beauty that lies in perfection, the exceptional precision with which even experiments that were designed to invalidate or at least challenge quantum theory turned out instead to prove it correct. Poets, laymen, and physicists alike can expect Lederman to show them new ways to look at the nature of quantum theory and, in turn, at how quantum theory describes nature. "Quantum theory for poets" is educational, mind-expanding, and over wide stretches fun to read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Quantum Physics for Non-Scientists June 9 2014
By Dee German - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The absolute best book on quantum physics for non-scientists ever written. Easy to understand, no equations, and sprinkled with humor. It starts out with the physics discoveries of the 18th century and moves the reader gently into the mysteries of the quantum world. As a scientist myself I have never really accepted quantum physics as reality. This book made a believer of me!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner Feb. 13 2014
By Al Brunsting - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This topic is highly non-intuitive. The authors set the historical contexts and clearly explain most of the mystery. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand quantum physics, which has been so spectacularly successful in explaining the physics at the atomic and subatomic scales. Most of this understanding is used to develop the technology that elevates our standard of living.
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