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Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World
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Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  294 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Physics is a complex, even daunting topic, but it is also deeply satisfying--even thrilling. And liberated from its mathematical underpinnings, physics suddenly becomes accessible to anyone with the curiosity and imagination to explore its beauty. Science without math? It's not that unusual. For example, we can understand the concept of gravity without solving a single equ ...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published June 16th 2010 by AMACOM/American Management Association
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Dec 15, 2012 Kyle rated it liked it
Oh, Dr. Fayer...

How in your own world you are. In the foreword to this book, Michael Fayer claims that it is an attempt to remove the technical terminology and math from the discussion, and instead focus on explaining the world around us at a quantum level. Well... he certainly manages to explain, at a quantum level, a wide range of everyday things we take for granted. Yet, he uses technical speak and math to do it.

Without using any math or technical terms, I shall now explain to you what's ha
Nov 23, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
This is an excellent book for a non-specialist. It may be a bit challenging to a non-scientist with little math background--but the math is not difficult--just simple algebra. The book is filled with useful diagrams that really do help elucidate the concepts. I like how the book starts from first principles of quantum theory. It explains lucidly how quantum theory deviates from classical physics. The book explains that in classical physics, relative sizes matter, but in quantum physics, absolute ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Charles rated it it was amazing
The details of the topics covered in the book are likely not going to be interesting to someone who doesn't want to delve into why the electron orbitals of atoms and molecules are the way they are or even the molecular reason why saturated fat is bad for you.

In college I was planning to go into astrophysics but got sidetracked into computer science but still have a passion for physics so this was one of the best general discussions of QM that I have come across.

In many of the other reviews I h
Oct 27, 2015 Ahsan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fictions, 2014
If only my high-school physics/chemistry teachers were this interesting, I would have picked a different career track. The book starts off with a discourse on the difference between classical mechanism and quantum mechanism (absolutely large and absolutely small) and soon pulls the readers into a world where intuition matters for little. Never before has quantum physics been so approachable to laymen.
The first 40% of the book is probably the most riveting and it is tough to put down the book as
Mar 19, 2016 Cara rated it really liked it
To tell you where I'm coming from with this book, it's probably useful to say that I'm currently in a graduate program in physics and taking a graduate level quantum mechanics course. So I am more familiar with the subject than many, though not as good at is as I would like to be. I picked up this book thinking it would be like every other pop science book I've read on quantum mechanics (and I don't know why I keep reading them when I generally don't like them), in that it would be overly simpli ...more
Ron Joniak
Dec 27, 2014 Ron Joniak rated it liked it
This book is ideal for anyone interested in college level general chemistry. Author Michael D. Fayer introduces an abundance of chemistry topics generally concerning the quantum world. He does so in a manner that does not complicate things but holds scientific integrity. For me, I did not enjoy the last 25% of the book as it became very technical in areas that I did not care about (polyunsaturated fats vs. monounsaturated fats, etc.). This book is highly recommended to anyone looking to learn ab ...more
Ravi Warrier
Absolutely Small had a lot of promise. And it did deliver on it. Well, at least partially. Fayer's promise was that he would try and simplify the complex science of quantum theory into something that most people would understand. Now, that's a tall order, because some things cannot be simplified beyond a certain point. And that's where my disappointment lies - his partially kept promise.

The book on the other hand was informative and decently okay. He took the most common phenomenon experienced i
Seaniqa C.
Jan 06, 2011 Seaniqa C. rated it really liked it
I knew an absolutely small amount of quantum physics before this book, only the essentials, which help create a really good feel for this book. I believe Dr Fayer had a vast knowledge about, Quantum Physics (which I guess a quantum physicist should), which he broke down into terms, someone with no prier Quantum physics experience could really comprehend. I also believe Dr Fayer did a spectacular job of explaining one of the youngest, broadest and most complex fields of science.
I believe Quantum
Sep 13, 2012 Plamen rated it liked it


What gives objects their color? Why does copper conduct electricity, but glass does not? Why is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas while oxygen and nitrogen are not? These are basic questions about how our world works that can’t be answered with the usual explanations.

Instead, we must turn to the fascinating field of quantum theory. *Absolutely Small* investigates the counterintuitive world of the tiniest particles on earth—photons, electrons, atoms, and molecules—that act nothing l

Don Charlton
Aug 03, 2014 Don Charlton rated it really liked it
This book taught me more chemistry than I learned in high school. Sure, I learned all the definitions and standard stuff back then, but this book answered the WHY. For example, this book explains WHY water has a slightly negative charge. Of course, the WHY to many aspects of chemistry is based on quantum mechanics. This book, despite needing a little more stylistic energy, filled many gaps in my understanding of chemistry. For that, thank-you!
Dewayne Stark
Oct 21, 2015 Dewayne Stark rated it really liked it
The majority of my reads are using the Kindle format but equations and charts are usually too small on a smaller screen to read. Using a laptop works much better but again it doesn't fit in your pocket. Worth the time to read.
Mar 06, 2016 Mohan rated it it was amazing
One of the best book for for Non-Physicists who want to understand Quantum Physics.....i Love the way that author has approached to explain Quantum Physics through the history of the subject.
Jonathan Biddle
Mar 20, 2012 Jonathan Biddle rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, kindle
A boring book with fascinating sections. Fayer is a dreadful writer but somehow that helped the concepts get through to me since he repeated himself so often (even with identical sentences that followed each other with just a few words changed). I though it would delve deeper into quarks and leptons, etc. but it actually never mentioned them. Rather than spend most of the time on quantum theory, half of the book is review of high school chemistry and how a slightly deeper understanding of the wa ...more
Andrew Sebastian
File Under: The Fine Technical Details
May 10, 2013 Jsrott rated it it was ok
Although the author has a noble goal, he doesn't quite hit it. Parts of the book were done pretty well, but once the author moved on to quantum explanations, I found myself bogged down in descriptions of hybrid orbitals and molecular bonds. Although the boo is written with minimal math, I don't see it as friendly to the non-mathematically oriented. I did like the description of the quantum origin of electrical resistivity, but on the whole I found the book merely OK.
Jun 12, 2012 Luis rated it did not like it
Shelves: science
This is the first book in about 5 years that I could not finish and it is for a variety of reasons, but it is for these two reasons foremost.

1) THIS BOOK IS BORING! Perhaps this is my fault for thinking that a book about Quantum Theory could be interesting, but it was too dry for me and I am patient, I can push through some boring. But this was pretty bad.

2) Quantum Physics is hard to understand. There are just certain topics you can't dumb down. oy vey.
Scott Howarth
Jun 19, 2013 Scott Howarth rated it really liked it
Fantastic book for my re-introduction to physics, in particular, quantum mechanics. Every time I was left with a question, which happened regularly, the answer arrived in the following pages. Always a clear explanation with, what I presume is, the absolutely necessary equations to convey the concepts of quantum theory to the non-physicists.

Fascinating read about the quantum mechanics behind the macro world that left me craving more.

Highly Recommended.
Mohammed alkindy
Apr 13, 2012 Mohammed alkindy rated it really liked it
definitely another step for my understanding of quantum particles and physics. it feels good to know not just how but also why blueberries are blue and cherries are red! the shrodinger cat also became more understood and its relation with real system. super position is another concept that i feel more comfortable at least from the mathematical point of view.
Darren Hamilton
Aug 30, 2013 Darren Hamilton rated it did not like it
this may be a good book. It is a horrible audiobook. Why they even made an audiobook is a mystery. It is like listening to a math essay. A relatively easy one but still, you need to be able to look back. May actually read it someday because the parts in english sounded interesting. Most of it was in math though.
Christopher Mcilroy
Aug 03, 2013 Christopher Mcilroy rated it it was amazing
I could contend with this only when well rested and at full concentration. Always fascinated with the material, I finished with a paradoxically concrete sense of how the elusive nature of quantum physics determines such everyday phenomena as color and the danger of trans fats.
Dec 27, 2010 Gendou rated it liked it
A strange but interesting book. The author is not a good writer, but he has a lot to say about quantum effects in our daily life. He spends too much time building up our mathematical vocabulary, when two or three English words might have sufficed.
Bernard Farrell
Sep 22, 2011 Bernard Farrell marked it as to-read
I plan to read this in the future. There's a really interesting interview with the author on Tech Nation. You can listen to it here:
Jack Stringer
Nov 18, 2010 Jack Stringer rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! I have learned so much about quantum theory and how everything works from electricity to black body radiation. I will defiantly be reading more of Dr. Fayers books!
Jun 09, 2013 Steven rated it liked it
A decent book for non-scientists. It's mostly correct and easy to understand. For scientists and chemists in particular it probably isn't anything you didn't know already.
Sep 05, 2013 Amanda rated it did not like it
I rarely quit a book, but the description of the Schroedinger's cat concept was beyond disappointing. I'm far from a physicist, but I know enough to know I was wasting mt time.
Anthony Tenaglier
Dec 20, 2012 Anthony Tenaglier rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Listened to this in the car and what I didn't understand was the author referencing figures when the audiobook was intended for listening. The book otherwise was ok.
Brendan  McAuliffe
May 21, 2011 Brendan McAuliffe rated it it was ok
Didn't read all of this, it's a weird combination to too complex and too simple ( get back to it sometime )
May 15, 2011 Sandra rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Helped me understand quantum mechanics, and that's saying a lot.
Oct 09, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
A simple and easy to understand explanation with no math.
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Michael D. Fayer is an American chemical physicist. He is the David Mulvane Ehrsam and Edward Curtis Franklin Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University.
He attended the University of California at Berkeley for both undergraduate and graduate school. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1974 under the supervision of Professor Charles B. Harris. Fayer began his academic career at Stanford as an
More about Michael D. Fayer...

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“absolute size—An object is large or small not by comparison to another object, but rather by comparison to the intrinsic minimum disturbance that accompanies a measurement. If the disturbance is negligible, the object is large in an absolute sense. If the intrinsic minimum disturbance is nonnegligible, the object is absolutely small.” 0 likes
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