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The Quantum Universe

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,888 ratings  ·  194 reviews
The authors of the international bestseller "Why Does E=mc2?" present a simple theory that leads to concrete and quite astonishing predictions for the natural world
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Published January 1st 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published 2011)
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Brendon Schrodinger
I love Brian Cox and I went to see him in a live show in Canberra at the end of October. I started this book the day before that with a huge amount of enthusiasm and excitement, but the grind soon slowed down and I finished it this afternoon.

What happened?

I think other reviews have summed the problem up correctly. To explain certain aspects of quantum mechanics the authors latched onto an analogy with clocks. It was fine at first and I understood what was going on. But then it was expanded upon
Okay... well first off I should declare that I have a degree in Quantum Physics. And that I was bought this book as a present.

Its clearly trying to explain Quantum Theory for 'the layperson' - those that aren't scientists or mathematicians. That's a problem, because Quantum Theory is really rather complicated. In order to try and explain how wave addition works, the authors come up with what they obviously believe is a very straightforward mechanism to do with clocks. Only it takes them so long
Riku Sayuj
If only they could stop with their stupid clocks and use standard terminology like 'amplitude'. Why complicate such a simple concept when there is ample stuff to simplify? Bad grades for that.
Brian Clegg
Brian Cox has picked up a lot of fans (and a few parodies) for his light and fluffy 'here's me standing on top of a mountain looking at the stars' TV science shows - no doubt a fair number of them will rush out and buy his latest collaboration with Jeff Forshaw. They will be disappointed. So, I suspect, will a number of My Little Pony fans, as with its rainbow cover and glittery lettering it only needs a pink pony tail bookmark to complete the look.

The reason The Quantum Universe will disappoint
The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

“The Quantum Universe" is the interesting book about the subatomic realm. Well known physicist and science celebrity Brian Cox along with fellow physicist Jeff Forshaw take us into the intimidating world of quantum mechanics. Using the latest in scientific understanding and creative analogies these scientists make complex topics accessible to the masses. This 272-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. Something Strange Is Af
This book commits one of the cardinal sins of pop science, which is replacing mathematics (deemed by the authors to be too difficult for the apparently mentally deficient reader) with an analogy so tortured it ends up being far more complicated than it would have been if they had just used the damn math. As math goes, wave addition is actually pretty easy, so I have no idea why the authors thought that replacing waves with clocks and adding together the clocks was simpler. How can you add togeth ...more
Simply put, I cannot really comment on this book. I didn't get most of it, but I couldn't tell you if this was more my problem, or the book's problem. Historically, I have been terrible with math. This book has just enough of it to leave me feeling lost more than 50% of the time. Even when I thought I understood something, that understanding was extremely tentative.

I have this sneaking suspicion that in trying to make a quantum physics book that is accessible to a layperson, while still includi
As I had studied quantum mechanics at university in the late 1960s as part of my chemistry degree I had a good idea what to expect from this book but, nevertheless, I found much of it very confusing. In particular, the use of the clocks, and the rules for the winding thereof, didn't help. These were supposedly introduced to avoid the use of complex mathematics but personally I would have done better struggling with the maths than trying to visualise these pesky clocks.

It also seemed to me that f
Probably the most annoying thing about this book is that it claims you don't need the maths to understand it, then proceeds to fill every page with maths. After one long equation filled section it rubs your face in it by saying, basically, that you needn't have bothered.

With quantum physics relying so much on maths to be explained, it seems rather glib to claim you don't need to understand it, but then again how could they have sold this as a pop-science book if you needed a degree in maths to r
This was an incredibly fascinating yet baffling book. I am quite ashamed to admit that I was confused by Chapter 3! The concept of tiny clocks as a method of understanding quantum waves was so abstract and unusual that I frequently had to remind myself what the clocks were actually representing. Nevertheless, I was perpetually amazed and astonished by the insights into the quantum world that this book elucidated, and I thoroughly enjoyed being forced out of my comfort zone, and having my perspec ...more
An excellent and accessible overview of how quantum mechanics actually works. Yes, there's some math in here, but you can't really explain quantum mechanics without probability.

Now I know how to respond to all the Deepak Chopra wanna-bes and fans of "What the Bleep Do We Know" who think there's something mystical in their misunderstanding of quantum mechanics. And I understand what the Higgs Boson is!
A good in-depth (for the average non-physicist) look at some commonly misunderstand aspects of quantum theory. This book can take you from zero understanding to a relatively comprehensive understanding in under 300 pages. It delivers that which it promises, nothing more, nothing less. Worth a read.
Blair Dowden
As in their previous book (Why Does E=mc²?), the authors are trying to address audiences with different technical backgrounds. This time, readers without a decent grounding in pre-calculus mathematics and basic physics will be lost most of the time. Even those with a science background will be lost (or confused, or disagree) at least some of the time.

In common with other reviewers, I had trouble with the use of multitudes of little clocks that fill the universe to represent waves. I found myself
First, a disclaimer. I have a degree in Physics so have studied Quantum Mechanics (QM) at degree level. Therefore I didn't read this as a lay person (it's intended target audience), so YMMV.

I was hoping that if anyone could make QM accessible to the layman it would be Prof. Brain Cox. Sadly, in my opinion, this isn't the case.

The book starts with a brief history of the beginning of the subject (which I found interesting), but when the author starts to describe the actual theory things start to u
Mirek Kukla
"The Quantum Universe" is an approachable book that attempts to explain the mathematical ideas underpinning modern quantum theory. In this regard, it is quite different than most other books of its kind. Take Brian Greene's brilliant "The Fabric of the Cosmos," for instance: whereas Greene attempts to provide intuitive descriptions of quantum phenomena, Cox and Forshaw attempt to provide intuition for the mathematics of quantum theory. In other words, whereas most pop modern physics book
Jim Whitefield
I gave this an average rating; not because the book itself was average; for those who can understand quantum physics, I am sure it is amazing. Unfortunately, I never could understand algebra and this is no average book explaining why things happen at all. Unlike other work of his I have read, which is written for the lay person, you need a degree in quantum mechanics to even begin to understand this one. I really tried but have to confess I didn't understand a word of it, despite Cox's best effo ...more
Well this was fun. Three things real quick:

1. Not like I came out of this none the wiser, but I'm not exactly Carl Sagan now.

2. I'm down with the approach the authors used to explore quantum physics, but really the clock ansatz did not work for me at all.

3. Will probably hunt for more 'elementary' books next time, if that's possible.
Matthew Tree
Having a vague idea that there is some connection between aspects of quantum mechanics and fiction, I got hold of this book which makes a serious attempt to really explain quantum physics to people (like myself) who are mathematicaly illiterate. I found I could follow it without really understanding it, which seems, from what the authors say, to be the standard reaction of many qualified physicists. The final chapter, however, which requires a more than basic knowledge of maths, left me feeling ...more
not even sure what I just read :/
Ben Babcock
The universe is big. Mindbogglingly big. Our minds have trouble conceiving of the vastness of the universe, on either scales of time and space, or their unified presentation as spacetime. And the moment we think we might possibly be able to get used to this idea, it becomes apparent that the very foundations of our universe are small. So small, so tiny, that the energy required to probe these depths is nearly as impressively vast as the scale of the universe they conspire to create. This is The ...more
A nice, not very mathematical review of quantum theory culminating in the calculation of the Chandrsekhar limit.
It's such a shame I understood so little of this. The quantum world truly fascinates me. Still, I understand the conclusions well enough and that's what counts. I'll give this 4 stars - hell, I'll even chuck in another half - since it's not the authors' fault the math is beyond me and their well-considered simillies and analogies failed to stick. Bugger it I'll give full marks since Brian Cox is such a cutie.
Jenna DeFrei
By far NOT my favourite book on quantum physics. I found the authors difficult to follow much of the time, partially because I don't have the maths ability needed for this book. That said, I also found the writers rather boring, sadly. Usually I find this topic very exciting to read.... not this book. I found this book quite tedious and had to force myself to continue reading through the end.
Matt Payne
Quantum theory can be so hard to understand, but this book does a great job of conveying the core concepts. It also goes a bit deeper and explains the more complicated mathematical basis for many elements of quantum theory, but in a way that I can understand (as a curious layman).

Another common problem with quantum theory is that many things get misrepresented by science-writers. This book also explains the theoretical truth behind some of those misrepresentations.

Quantum theory defies logic and
Fiona Robson
Thouroughly enjoyed this book, although I can't pretend that I understood it ALL. It took me ages to read, because I kept on having to go back to read equations and explanations several times. I especially loved the way the authors took the mick out of hippies who erroneously used Quantum Theory to explain paranormal/spiritual experiences! A very good read, and entertaining, too.
I hadn't read any Quantum Physics in a good few years and so I started this book with a good deal of enthusiasm to get a refresher and an overview on the progress of research since that time. It was inevitably a very challenging read, not least of which because my Math skills were rusty and of course it is both a counterintuitive and complex topic. Overall however I got what I wanted from the book, though I must echo what others have said regarding the overly stretched clock metaphor, which serv ...more
Walter Straus
Very heavy reading, but it explains so much. The kind of book you should read for a while then put down and come back to later. If you are interested in science, this is a good one.
Clarence Hayes
A well executed attempt at giving those with a modest scientific literacy a real peek under the covers as to what quantum theory and modern theoretical physics really is.
There are some thin books on the topic, which stay at the level of vague analogy regarding the science, and then focus more on personalities.
And there are the textbooks for those who really learn it.
And then there are philosophical tomes which have no relation at all to the science, and which merely exploit suggestive phrases o
If you thimk you understand particle physics, your clearly don't understand particle physics, and this helped me understand a little bit more about how little I understand particle physics.
It reminded me a bit like watching a fantasy film or an opera, if you suspend your disbelieve sufficiently and accept that the robot car can become a walking robot three times the size and have sentience, or that the large lady in the horned hat is seductive, or that a particle can be everywhere in the univers
Adam Said
Unlocks the mysteries of the Universe. Deftly written by two of the greatest thinkers of our time.
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QM, Evolution, And NS 1 17 Apr 11, 2012 08:46AM  
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  • Collider: The Search for the World's Smallest Particles
  • Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics: The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
Brian Edward Cox, OBE (born 3 March 1968) is a British particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, PPARC Advanced Fellow and Professor at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. He is working on the R& ...more
More about Brian Cox...
Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) Wonders of the Universe Wonders of the Solar System Human Universe Wonders of Life: Exploring the Most Extraordinary Phenomenon in the Universe

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“...Heisenberg removed the conceit that the workings of Nature should necessarily accord with common sense.” 1 likes
“Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is one of the most misunderstood parts of quantum theory, a doorway through which all sorts of charlatans and purveyors of tripe8 can force their philosophical musings.” 0 likes
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