The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments
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The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Utterly beautiful. Profoundly disconcerting. Quantum theory is quite simply the most successful account of the physical universe ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the twenty-first century technology that we now take for granted. But at the same time it has completely undermined our ability to make sense of the world at its most fundamental level. Niels Bohr claim...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 24th 2011)
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Bob Nichols
The audience for this book might be the second or third year physics student. The book's detail obscures the story for those who need an introduction.

This book begins by describing rival theories of physics in the early 1900s between the atomists and those who saw a continuous and harmonious flow of energy in the cosmos. The rest of the book is a blow-by-blow account of how quantum physics has brought these two theories closer together. Toward the end of the book, the author writes about "closed...more
BetseaK
As a historical overview of the development of quantum physics, this book was worth reading and, regarding the exposition of the quantum concepts and phenomena, it may be that it is good enough if you’re a physicist or someone already well-versed in confusing technical terminology and the underlying mathematics.
However, my experience with this book is that the technical terminology (though probably conventionally accepted) is too loose and too vaguely defined for the layperson. So, to my sorrow...more
Nilesh
Too ambitious and too complex. The author has a good concept in mind but in the chronological recount of the development he never could reach where the theory is now (after all the bumblings and Eureka moments) and the meaning of it all. The book is extremely complex in parts and completely loses its readers in ascribing the meaning to all the mathematical innovations (or may be he says somewhere, there is no meaning). That said, a decent book to go through for anyone with interest in the subjec...more
Aaron
I paid for this book, therefore I felt compelled to read it till the last page. If it was a library borrow I would had returned it.

I was expecting a plain and simple explanation of Quantum theory for the non-physicist but this book goes into a lot of detail that a physics student could benefit from.

In total honesty, I couldn’t wait for it to be over but I’m glad I made it to the last page the same way as running 0.2 miles after running 26 miles before for the whole 26.2 of a marathon.
Charles R
This is a nice little popular history of quantum physics, from Planck's introduction of the quantum in 1900 to the present day. The best part of the book is probably the first half or so, which deals with the creation of quantum theory, up to the establishment of QED as a complete theory around 1950.

Although there is not really any mathematics in the book, the author does go into a bit more technical detail than is usual in popular histories of this sort. Since I have a mathematical background,...more
Toni
May 18, 2014 Toni rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
A (very) robust and interesting history on discoveries in quantum mechanics and particle physics, and the physicists involved. Starting with Planck's work with black body radiation, and moving through general relativity, the wave function, field theory, chromodynamics, and ending in contemporary work in string theory and loop quantum gravity, the book really mixes a heaping helping of the science itself with the historical narrative - sometimes a little too much. I'm reasonably well versed in qu...more
Geo Collins
I've been massively interested in quantum physics for a number of years now, and last December I picked up this book. Due to the demanding nature of my A-level courses, and part laziness, I kept it kind of as a 'casual read' for whenever I was a bit bored. However very recently I decided to plough through the rest of it.

It starts by introducing quantum theory, what it is, and the famous first interpretation suggested by Niels Bohr. To my surprise, it didn't mention the second most famous interpr...more
Alina
This book presents an overview of quantum mechanics by relating 40 crucial episodes in the development of the theory. I thought that sounded like a good approach for someone like me, who loves science and is fascinated by the implications of quantum mechanics but doesn't have the math chops to understand anything more than a top-level conceptual approach -- if that. It explores the theory through personalities and events. I'm not sure I gained much more insight than I had before, but the format...more
Satyajit Nadkarni
Lucid to the point of interesting and historically revealing. Of course, it would help if the reader were interested in physics in general - the history of particle physics, quantum mechanics and such. As a lay person reading this book, there were times when I wished I was a physicist or at least knew the mathematics to truly follow what was going on, in depth. But even if I do not know the math, i still understood the basics of each concept and more importantly, the history behind those concept...more
Gregg
I really enjoyed the way the author told the story. Picking 40 moments and using them to bring the reader along the path of discovery was a great way to provide the background and evolution of the quantum theory. I listened to the audiobook version so I did feel a little lost later in the book as the author was describing some of the math involved so I may go back and re-read some of the chapters with a hard copy of the book. However, I still followed the main concepts and don't feel that I lost...more
Gene Sewell
I'm about halfway through and find the book very enjoyable. I have enough math and physics to stay with the audio book. I would say this book would be difficult for someone without a reasonable background in physics and related math. That being said, this book is very approachable for a layperson interested in the subject.

It's almost impossible to find a book explaining the quantum story - in part because the story is still in flux.

I recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding quan...more
Terry
I do not have either the understanding or background to appreciate the technical aspects of the book. But for one who is not versed in physics, I felt I was still able to understand the outlines of the issues involved in the development of Quantum Theory. I also felt that the book really demonstrated the interaction between theory and experimentation in scientific discovery.
Benjamin
Very interesting account of the evolution of quantum physics, which includes the human element of how various theories were constructed and experimental discoveries were made. Drags a bit in the middle while focusing on the classification of particles (so many particles), but once I got through that it picked up again.
Shankhayan Dutta
A difficult read, though it might be expected given the subject matter. Had to skim at times, but still managed to learn a lot about developments in modern physics. It also offers tantalizing hints at some deeper metaphysical questions.. but doesn't really talk about them much.

Read if you liked Physics in school.
Kathy Cowley
Nov 14, 2011 Kathy Cowley marked it as to-read
I got through the first 40 pages and thought it was brilliant... however, I don't have a strong (or recent enough) physics base to read the rest at this point. One of my goals is to learn more about physics... once I do, I'll come back to this book.
B Kevin
I loved the earlier chapters and would have helped when I was studying QM as an undergrad. The later chapters got a bit tedious and bogged down with sub atomic particles. Dammit, seen on boson, seen em all.

Don't worry, no math involved.
Fran Caparrelli
liked it but couldn't understand a lot of it. I find the quantum theory fascinating - just wish I could really understand it. From a historical viewpoint the book was good - I found the background of the development of the theory interesting.
Toby
I enjoyed the book until it got to Yang-Mills work in the 1950s, where particle physics turns into a gumbo of particles and technical terms that are a chore to read through.
Dave
Understood a lot of the concepts and very little of the math and found the stories fascinating. Interesting to have read it days after Nobel prize awarded for Higgs Boson.
Chris Hubbs
A solid history of a fascinating subject. The middle third of the book gets bogged down with too much detailed explanation, but the last third picks up the pace quite nicely.
Erickson
Very good compilation of stories of quantum history, though it could be better with a little mathematics to more clearly depict the stories.
Gendou
Not much to say, same stories I've heard in many books before. Always fun to hear the history of quantum physics.
Nick Howard
Not for everyone. I do recommend a little science background. So great to read. So much fun, so much intrigue
Jenesssa
Very impressive book on quantum physics. Clear, concise, challenging but not impossible.
BAKU
This could be a lot shorter, should be in exact chronological order and needs a glossary
Bryan
May 19, 2011 Bryan marked it as to-read-3-seems-promising  ·  review of another edition
Not out yet at the time I'm adding this...
Brian Connelly
Brian Connelly marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2014
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Angela
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