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The Quantum Universe

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,670 Ratings  ·  232 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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Community Reviews

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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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Mark Hebwood
I am, frankly, unsure how much of quantum physics can be conveyed meaningfully without a mathematical description of the subject. Brian and Jeff did a heroic job in keeping maths out of the discussion, and for the most part I think they still managed to deliver interesting insights into the nature of quantum physics. For example, the idea to replace complex numbers with clocks is actually quite clever, although I agree with most reviewers on this site that this device failed to make things easie ...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
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what was the tipping point that caused me to read a popular book on Quantum Physics (QP) after years of successfully avoiding the topic ? It was running into this Webpost on Quantum Computing and it's video .

This is less of a review and more of my idea and notes holding areas found on Quantum Physics. Sources material includes this book , Quantum Physics For Poets and others I may read over time. Also some video and web resources ( Nova Special recomme
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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!
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mirek Kukla
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
"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
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-physics
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 mysel
Judyta Szaciłło
This is the most serious piece of literature on the subject that I have ever braved. I stopped pretending half-way through the book and skipped all the remaining descriptions of equasions ("chalk talk", as it is called throughout the text), but I appreciate that they are by no means redundant, as the book aims to demonstrate the mathematical basis of quantum physics. There is plenty of commentary in between the equasions, and it does help to gain at least a vague idea of what they show.

What they
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
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
Shayan Kh
Not an easy introduction to QM as I thought it would be. And the concept of clocks was just baffling. I have a degree in mathematics, so I know imaginary numbers. But even with the knowledge that clocks in this book represent imaginary numbers some how, it was still hard to grasp. I can only imaging how confused readers who didn't know i must have been.
Or maybe it was because I read this book with prior knowledge that I had such a hard time. In any case, it wasn't like the other book of Brian C
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
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
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.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fiona Robson
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jenna DeFrei
May 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very challenging and I confess I did not manage to understand fully all the mathematical (or even conceptual) arguments. However the book had an approach that was new to me, and did sort of make sense (as much as quantum physics ever 'makes sense'!). I enjoyed it.
Adam Saeed
Unlocks the mysteries of the Universe. Deftly written by two of the greatest thinkers of our time.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, physics
Fuckin' clocks, Brian.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
not even sure what I just read :/
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice, not very mathematical review of quantum theory culminating in the calculation of the Chandrsekhar limit.
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QM, Evolution, And NS 1 17 Apr 11, 2012 08:46AM  
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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
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