on January 22, 2004
This is completely a great adventure in Quantum Mechanics not just for the intrepid students of TCL but for me. I started reading this book knowing anything about the theme and once I started reading just couldn't stop. The style they use to write is very natural and easy to understand, you don't need to be a teacher to read this. I've read before "Who is Fourier?" other book of TCL and when I found this book I decided to read it thinking would be as interesting as Fourier, but I was wrong, this is better.
I WOULD STRONGLY RECOMMEND IT TO EVERYBODY EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PHYSICS. I learned that Quantum Mechanics or any other topic don't have to be diffcult to understand, the secret is the way you approach to it. I'm eagerly waiting for another adventure to come. It's a book you'll enjoy from the begining to the end.
on November 26, 2003
I do not think that this book deserves a negative review despite the silly humor or childish cartoons. This is neither a comic book nor is intended to be, but just in the process of learning of qunatum mechanics things such as these help to avoid the intimidation of reader and keep him sort of hanging around into learning this stuff. This is not meant for experts who may already have patterned a mind set on this subject. This is for a beginning reader who has some background in liberal arts physics and the like and who wishes to know what is really meant by quantum mechanics and why. Experts who might read this may find that the "holes" in their understanding is filled by reading the book--a fact that may make them depressed of the idea that they may have thought that they have understood quantum mechanics prior to reading this book.
This book is simply unpretentious, historically structured and focuses on clarity as much as possible while trying to derive all steps in mathematical development--an important style of presentation necessary to enable a reader to stick to the book rather than a masterful book that author may likely to intimidate a reader while demonstrating his prowess in mathematics--I see this too common in books on quantum mechanics. Advanced QM books are often seem to be written to sort of "impress" members of the subject community that how the author has laboriously done a book masterfully or how deeply he has mastered the subject--This book is quite different from this style--It is quite readable, understandable and makes you to appreciate what teaching really is. I do not think there is any other quantum mechanics book that is as simple as this one and easy to understand in one reading, with some calculus background. This type of teaching sytle, from the roots and in a historical context is rarely employed today--I cannot think of any quantum mechanics book that builds every element of the concept from the roots like it is done in this book. When I look at text books, it is all to common to see concepts and facts presented as if they were "invented" in one fly but not developed as an evolutionary development where very bright people have contributed along the way. Although it may not be possible to present material in a historical context in every subject, this book does it admirably well in the important field of quantum mechanics--the characters including Wien, Max Planck, Bohr, Sommerfield, Born Heisenberg and Schrodinger are all part of this drama and their roles and contributions are well illustrated in cartoons, which I thought was nice. Besides, I do not think that this is entirely written by students--I think it has been greatly assisted by someone who has worked with Heisenberg (It is remarked somewhere in the text albeit indirectly).
I thought the matrix mechanics, the way it is done in this book and in showing its correspondence to Schrodinger's equation is simply awesome !
I am Professor in an engineering department in a major university and I was thrilled to find that this book has employed approches that I have been using in my own classes--teaching style and methodololgy is an wonderful art--and it needs, first, I think, a sort of fanatic attitude toward simplicity and approach based on reverence to the subject--the reader may be blessed to discover some of it when you read this book. Hopefully you may discover the ultimate teacher!
Richard Feynmann had once reportedly said to his collegue about his lectures in CalTech to freshmen, ".....I couldn't do it (a particular concept) well...not this way...I thought I can make a freshman understand this concept...I could not do it....that means I do not understand myself this concept very well...." The utter honesty of Feynmann is remarkable. Surely Feynmann would have passed a fair assessment of this book as this tries to capture some of his style in his famnous three-volume book on Feymann Lectures of Physics.
I strongly it recommend to any beginner who is really interested in understanding quantum mechanics.
on August 25, 2003
Believe it or not, I actually recommend this book for my graduate quantum chemistry class in addition to a "regular" quantum text. I have probably pulled more lectures out of this book than any other source. Its pedegogy is
questionable and a cheeky. And, yes, the stupid cartoon icons are very
Now, why do I like this book: first of all, most chemists are math-phobes and
by in large enter graduate school poorly prepared in both physics and math.
So, the icons, cartoons, etc help lower the barrier towards understanding and
utilizing the necessary mathematical tools required to study QM.
Secondly, the overview of the historical dialog and development is quite fun and puts an interesting spin on the classical and semi-classical underpinnings of quantum theory.
For certain, if you want to be serious student of QM, go to the classic texts. If
you want to have fun, read this book along side and bring your crayolas.
on August 14, 2003
I was disheartened to see all the negative reviews. I suppose if you expect a standard physics textbook, or a discriptive book for the hobbist you'd be disappointed. From an educational standpoint, it's a facinating experiment. How COULD anyone document the learning process of a more-or-less random group of people, from young children to grandparents? In terms of material difficulty level, it is sort of designed for people who have gotten through Who Is Fourier. The book bravely dives in explaining calculus concepts, and wave mechanics from scratch - sometimes with a bit of childish humor. Is that so wrong?
on May 12, 2003
Most of the reviewers have already said all the important things to be said for this book, so I will just highlight what I think prospective readers should keep in mind.
1) This book is about twice as hard as "Who is Fourier?," and for laypeople like myself, it doesn't begin to really pay off until you re-read it a few times and get truly familiar with the material. Point being, the cartoons are nice and encouraging, but sometimes they have the weird and unintended effect of making you feel stupid because these cute little drawings get it all eventually and do math really well, but, uh, the derivations are somewhat....difficult, for people.
2) The difficulty is not a drawback, per se, but for the most part a sign that these LEX fellows are trying to really get you into the heart of this material, and this material is, after all, Quantum Mechanics.
3) This book may leave your head spinning, unlike the Fourier book, and this is because the Fourier book was able to take its sweet time with pretty much one subject. Here, however, the authors faced a tough one in having to provide readers with clear info. on QM and also imparting the necesary history of physics for understanding the material. But give them credit for doing it at all. So you get swarms of equations from here and there, and then smash them all together and make the classical equal to the quantum, etc.., etc..again, not easy stuff, but manageable. (I also wanted to give the book 4.5 stars, for the same reasons as a reviewer below, that is, for occassional vagueness and under-explanation).
4) Just re-iterating, all of the above are only real drawbacks if you skim the book or read it swiftly (if you're a beginner)---it is a book that requires patience and study, and it rewards the effort. As the cute drawings say: "You can do it!"
on March 22, 2003
Sorry, but all the childish chatter is annoying. Too wordy about trivialities, hardly any explanation of the hard stuff. We are presented with big equations with no definition of the unfamiliar symbols, and are expected to get it through osmosis and repetition.
Incorrect statments are presented as facts, to be later modified or corrected (sometimes). Sloppy language, as when electrostatic force is called magnetic. No mistake, the subject matter is heavy stuff, but this presentation won't get you to the desired understanding, only to a wide-eyed, childish "wow!"
I much prefer reading Gamow, Hawking, Weinberg, Feynman, and others, even when they use few equations. What good are the equations that are not supported by adequate explanations or even definition of terms?
on November 25, 2002
I was very disappointed with this book. While the philosophy outlined in the introduction about learning languages is very enlightened and applies equally well to physics and math, the book itself is not very different from standard text-books on the subject in either format or content. The chief difference is the addition of little cartoons which, instead of being informative and amusing, are just annoying. As another reviewer pointed out, the material is too advanced for an un-educated reader, while more advanced topics are omitted.
on July 15, 2002
For a layman, like high school students etc., this book is not clear enough to convey the concepts of QM. They will need much help from teachers. It's more like a math book, which tells you what calculus and D.E. are good for.
For a college student, this book is boring. You read a lot, but you get a little. A big waste of time, and money.
For both groups, I would recommend another book: The Structure and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, by R. I. G. Hughes, as an introduction to the field. (ISBN 0-674-84392-4)
on January 8, 2002
After three attempts over the past two years I finally finished this book. The text is an excellent introduction to Quantum Mechanics but DOES require some mathematical ability. Often I would get lost in the derivations. However, on the second and third attempts things begin to make sense. The text does show all the steps involved in the derivations and that helps. You could skip the math but then the book loses it's value and you will not get much out of the text. If you are formally trained in Quantum mechanics this book will serve as a review. However, if you, are just curious, this text is great. Be prepared for a tough read.
on October 26, 2001
First of all, this is not a serious textbook and is primarily intended for high school students or first- and second-year undergraduates who are interested in quantum mechanics. In fact, one of the reviewers of the original English script is a high school teacher (Dr. David Derbes. Luckily, he is my physics teacher : )).
This book is divided chronologically into six chapters: "What is light"; "early quantum theory"; "the birth of quantum mechanics"; "wave mechanics"; "so long, matrix", and "departure to a new world". As many other readers have said, you will learn a great deal of history of modern physics in this 550-page book.
You will find plenty of math in this book. Why? The writers of the book are very kind to include the derivations of important formulae. Unlike many other books just tell you the final results/equations, this book actually shows you where the results/equations come from. This is a tremendous help because after seeing the derivations it is much easier to remember and link what you have read into a whole piece, and not end up with a bunch of separate esoteric, elusive equations that lingering in your brain.
There is, however, quite some math involved in this book. To read it comfortably, you need to get used to subscripts and superscripts. Math used in this book ranges from simple algebra to advanced calculus (such as Divergence and Laplacian). The good news is, virtually every derivation is shown step-by-step, and the authors try to show you all the required math and conclusion without going too deep into the exact meaning of those math, so it is quite possible to follow even without extensive knowledge in math. That being said, it is certainly helpful if you are good at math and know some of the more advanced math beyond high school level.
(For those of you who don't want to go through all those math, I recommend Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. Although it doesn't contain as much information on quantum mechanics [since it is a book on superstring theory], the part on quantum mechanics is very clear, insightful, and very easy to read.)
The only complain I have about this book is that sometimes ideas are not fully explained, in other words, the text tries to explain something to you, but you can't see how the explanation has anything to do with the question you have. An example: early in the book it talks about the idea of "degree of freedom". It says an object has three degrees of freedom, since it can move in three directions (up-down, left-right, forward-backward). Then it tries to convince you that a light wave has only two degrees of freedom. The explanation is that "potential and kinetic energy each has its own direction, which means that waves have two degrees of freedom." But every object can have potential and kinetic energy in two directions, why do they have three degrees of freedom? Ambiguity is the only reason that I give this book four stars instead of five. (I wanted to give it 4.5 stars.) (By the way, light wave indeed has two degrees of freedom, but the reason is something else.)
Overall, this is an excellent book on quantum mechanics. This whole book is written in a relaxed style. You will see many funny cartoon faces in this book (which can really make you laugh at times). : )