How to Teach Physics to Your Dog
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How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  338 ratings  ·  62 reviews
When physics professor Chad Orzel went to the pound to adopt a dog, he never imagined Emmy. She wasn't just a friendly mutt who needed a home; she was a talking dog with an active interest in what her new owner did for a living and how it could work for her. Soon Emmy was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chas...more
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Scribner Book Company (first published November 30th 2009)
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Graeme Skinner
This book was a real struggle.

I was recommended to read this as a light hearted way to learn a little bit more about Quantum Physics and to be honest, it wasn't that bad.

The book starts off with the main character being Chad, I presume, talking to his dog about bunny rabbits and other garden animals. Each chapter starts off very light hearted and flippant, where he sets the scene and for example, gets the dog to talk to him about chasing bunny rabbits and why they always escape him when he chas...more
The "teaching to your dog" gimmick is cute at first but gets kind of old eventually, even though I'm sure that Orzel's dog is, as she reports, a VERY good dog. :) The thing I really liked about this book is that Orzel actually goes into detail about how the experiments were designed that proved various aspects of quantum theory. I've never read a popular physics book that didn't just skip over that part, and it made some of the concepts a lot easier to understand.
Dennis D.
Mar 25, 2010 Dennis D. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dennis D. by: Brian Mason
In my GoodReads review of Sarah Vowell's book The Wordy Shipmates, I likened that work to "a history lesson given by an impossibly hip professor." To recycle that sentiment, How to Teach Physics to Your Dog is like taking a quantum physics class from a really cool teacher.

Actually, author Chad Orzel is a physics professor, at Union College in NY. He also writes a science-y blog called Uncertain Principles, (science-y, yes. But today a photo of his young daugh...more
Despite the cover, this is more properly a popular science book about quantum physics, presented through a series of humorous dialogues between the author and his dog Emmy. The writing is charming and accessible (the chapter on quantum entanglement is probably the most difficult one, but no one ever said quantum physics was easy), and this made perfect bedtime reading: both fun and informative. I was especially tickled by the final chapter, which debunks some quacks' use of quantum physics termi...more
D.L. Morrese
Quantum physics may still remain an unsolved mystery to me, for the most part, but I feel I understand some of its quirky aspects better now. I've read a few books for laymen on this subject, and the sad fact is that it may be simply so counter-intuitive that it my brain won't accept it. My 'that don't make sense' filter seems to kick in. When I read such books, I keep stopping to question the findings and ask, "How could that be?" (Unfortunately, my math skills are inadequate to help me overcom...more
I got given this when my family got a dog.

I'm not a huge fan of dogs.

This book is sometimes hard to read because it requires a very specific mood, you have to be in the mood for a giggle and to learn something which is an odd combination.

The book is written well and in a way to easily understand the basic principals of quantum physics with lots of examples relative to dogs and dog based activity.

Explanation of quantum physics 4-5 stars.

Warmed up to but still don't like dogs 2 stars.
I love the concept of it and got through, oh, about 3 chapters before I was unable to hang. He'd need to be there with me and his dog and for demonstration purposes, and then I could go, "wait, wait, what?!? can you slow down a bit? Okay, so waves... like the ocean, but we can't see them, and sound behaves like waves but also refracts? shit, okay, wait, start from the beginning." Physics is var interesting, but damn, so difficult!
apparently my plan is just to keep reading basic quantum physics books until a) i totally understand it, and b) they tell me that teleportation and time travel and whatever are actually possible. where is my FTL drive?? i refuse to take no for an answer.

anyway, despite not telling me what i want to hear and fulfilling my science fiction fantasies, this book was great -- the science is clear and the concept is adorable.
Jenny Hemming
Entertainingly accessible intro to weird stuff. No doubt I'll be returning to it as a way out of future confusion!
Sadly, this book did not instruct me on how to teach physics to my dog. Which is quite unfortunate. Atticus has been wanting to build a rocket for the last couple of years and I promised I would help him achieve his goal. He's 12 (that's 84 in dog years), and time's a-wastin'! Being the first dog on the moon is on his bucket list, motivated by his theory that it's made of cheese. He loves cheese.

What this actually was about was the author trying to write a trade book that would help introduce th...more
One of the things I love to do is browse around in the library looking at whatever catches my attention. I like to look over the new fiction and nonfiction sections, as well as just wandering the stacks pulling down and scanning all kinds of books. On one of my trips to the library last year, I discovered “How To Teach Physics To Your Dog”. I was amused by the cutesy title, but I was hooked as soon as I started reading the book.

This book is an overview of quantum physics. Now I know that most pe...more
I liked this book a lot. I heard about it through the author himself, as I read and enjoy his blog Uncertain Principles.

I have a friend who won't read this book on principle, because he doesn't want to learn quantum physics through cutesy imaginary conversations with a dog.

Rest assured that this is not the case. The dog conversations are cute and imaginary, but they are not the meat of the book. They are transitional sections that a) debunk popular misconceptions about the meaning of certain con...more
Bojan Tunguz
There is perhaps no area of Physics that has garnered as much fascination as quantum mechanics, save perhaps the theory of relativity. Yet in a sense the weirdness associated with quantum mechanics is even more profound than that associated with relativity. Relativity deals with physics of very fast objects, and even though it challenges our normal way of thinking, it still preserves some of the basic intuitions of what does it mean to be a physical object, how we measure properties of those obj...more
J Marie
Ooh, I liked this book. As a chem minor and premed student, I (unfortunately) have to have at least a basic knowledge of physics, so I checked this book out in an attempt to overcome my phobia of physics (and anything math-y). I'm very proud to say that, after reading this, I'm almost excited to take a physics course :)
The premise is cute- Orzel is "talking" to his dog Emmy, who wants to know why physics is so important that it's worth taking time away from chasing squirrels to study. Orzel tell...more
It took me 2 whole days to read it, one day back in February when I acquired it, and then, well, part of today. It is a wonderful, comedic introduction to quantum physics. Orzel goes into enough detail at the right moments to get you thinking about many-worlds vs Copenhagen, decoherence, entanglement, quantum computing and so forth. All of this while accompanied, in spirit, by a cute, inquisitive German shepard. If you never made it to Physics III but already know that Hawking's "A Brief History...more
I thought this was an excellent introduction to quantum mechanics. I don't really care for dogs in general, but whatever. Orzel did an admirable job of explaining the rise of quantum mechanics from blackbody radiation, the photoelectric effect to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and doubleslit experiments demonstrating wave-particle duality. Schrodinger's equation and what it is all about is also described and 'demosntrated' through his discussion on quantum tunneling. He ended the book talk...more
I have been wanting to find a "Physics for Dummies" book for a while. Both my husband and dear friend love physics and always make it sound so fascinating. I happened upon a favorable review of "How to Teach Physics to Your Dog" in our local Raleigh newspaper. I guess I was expecting the book to make physics seem so simple that even a dog could understand.
Nooooo! The physicist author simply has physics conversations with his dog. The author acts like he is making physics so simple for his dog (...more
Erin Shiba
disclaimer: i've never taken a course in physics, so you couldn't find a more uninformed audience.

using a curious dog as your audience, and utilizing dog-related analogies, is a pretty cute way of communicating complex scientific ideas. at first. but by the end, it seemed invasive, trite and overwrought. in fact, i actually ended up disliking the dog. and i like dogs.

as far as the information goes, it started off digestible and ended up with me throwing my hands in the air. i finished the book,...more
Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. My brain hurts.
Mar 16, 2013 C added it
Shelves: the-wreckage
I hope others can appreciate this. When the dog started talking in a NF book, it was a little too goofy for me. And, explaining physics to a dog...the implication is a little condescending, isn't it? (i.e. even my dog gets this...admittedly, she's a smart, talking dog, but still...)

So condescension is in order here, anyway. I mean, really, Cheryl, what were you expecting from a book called How to Teach Physics to Your Dog?

Still, I wasn't really expecting the dog to answer.
Richard Chin
The actual title is: "How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog".
Very cool concept, but beware, it is heavy reading! Newbies to Quantum physics, like me, struggled a bit through some chapters, and skimmed over others. But very informative, if you are really interested.
I found the addition of the dog a nice angle at first, but got quickly irritation, especially when you are trying to wrap your head around Quantum tunneling or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
Mike Ehlers
A very readable book on quantum mechanics. Simplified, perhaps, but I thought it enjoyable. Of course, quantum mechanics is where I started struggling in my college physics classes, so simplified is perhaps my speed. I can see where the talking dog gimmick might get too cute for some, but as a dog lover I liked it. Over all, the author does a credible job opening the wonders and mysteries of the quantum world to the reader.
This is a great book that will let you wrap your head around Quantum physics. The narrative gimmick of the conversations between Chad and his dog are great, and provide a nice light hearted and understandable look at some of the truly strange phenomena that emerges from quantum theory. For a bonus he also has a chapter on realizing that you are being conned by some sort of quantum con game, i.e. quantum healing.
Jun 29, 2011 Grace marked it as hiatus
So far, so good. The dog is charming, the science is accurate and I am learning history of science that I missed when I took and taught Quantum Mechanics.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy from the publisher based upon the posts about science at I do not personally know the author, but he is a professional acquaintance of my co-blogger.
BEST PHYSICS BOOK EVER!! A humorous, enlightening read that would keep even a high school dropout interested. Even through the narration of the dog and the owner, you still learn more about physics in 1 hour than you would with a textbook for 2 hours. I would recommend this book to anyone between a 5th grader and a physics professor. A must read for anyone interested in the subject.
Well I kind of read it - it was WAY too scientific for me. I did read the first chapter but I got lost. However it was a very cute idea and I loved all the dog stuff - great way for everyday folks who really can grasp this stuff, to learn more. I did at least learn the difference between quantum and classical physics. So I guess I'm trainable....
One of the best popular science Quantum Physics books I have read. Does the remarkable double act of being easier to comprehend and more in-depth than other books on the subject. The authors discussions with his dog start off feeling rather corny, but if you can get over that it quickly becomes endearing and are really quite funny.
A very readable introduction to the current knowledge about quantum physics. The interludes with the dog both gave examples of the concepts at a simplified level and provided good in-book breaks from the more dense discussion (and let's face it; QM is complicated enough that even a popularized version takes some brainpower to read).
A fairly clear exploration of some of the more philosophically interesting bits of quantum mechanics. Decent pop science, and I found the bits of exchanges with the dog (which provides the motivation for discussing the physics in the book), to be interesting. But on the whole I was also bored through much of the book.
Deborah Sjostrom
Sigh. I've always wanted to be a Smart Person (TM), but after reading this I can only conclude I am dumber than a dog. The author's technique of using conversations with his dog (about bunnies and treats) to teach quantum physics is pretty entertaining. Unfortunately, I don't know much more now than when I started the book.
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Chad Orzel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, NY.

He studied at University of Maryland, College Park, MD: PhD in Chemical Physics, 1999 and Williams College, Williamstown, MA: BA in Physics, 1993.

From 1999-2001, Chad was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Physics Department at Yale University, studying Bose-Einstein Condensation (BEC)...more
More about Chad Orzel...
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