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

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  25 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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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...more
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
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...more
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...more
Seaniqa C.
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...more


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
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!
Jonathan Biddle
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/s....
First explanation of the fundamentals of physics and classical vs. quantum mechanics that I have been able to understand in the least. Well-written and informative in a way that is new to me.
Jack Stringer
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!
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.
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
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.
Didn't read all of this, it's a weird combination to too complex and too simple ( get back to it sometime )
Helped me understand quantum mechanics, and that's saying a lot.
A simple and easy to understand explanation with no math.
Manuel Sánchez
I read this in 2011
James Cresswell
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Elements of Quantum Mechanics Absolutely Small, Chapter 4: The Photoelectric Effect and Einstein's Explanation Absolutely Small, Chapter 10: The Hydrogen Atom, Quantum Theory (An AMA management briefing) Ultrafast Infrared Vibrational Spectroscopy Absolutely Small, Chapter 11: Many Electron Atoms and the Periodic Table of Elements (An AMA management briefing)

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