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How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,528 Ratings  ·  154 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. Soon she was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chasing critters, getting treats, and going for walks. She peppered Chad with questions: Could she use quantum tunneling ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by Scribner (first published November 30th 2009)
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Mark Hebwood
Jan 23, 2016 Mark Hebwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

If you kindly devote some of your time to reading this review, you may become frustrated. Because I am not referring directly to Chad's book very much. I am expressing thoughts that were triggered through my reading of his book, and I find these thoughts fascinating. Still, there is a link to the book, and you will find it in the middle of my blurb under the heading "A message to Chad".

The universe is making fun of me

So here's the problem: Particles do not exist - fields do. Fields do not
Quite an arresting title, which is the main reason someone bought it for me! I was studying an undergraduate physics module with the Open University at the time so it was quite useful to read another way of describing some of the areas of this vast subject, even if it is largely aimed at an audience with little or no science education beyond GCSE.

The conceit here is that the author, who is a physics lecturer, has a talking dog called Emmy, who wants to know more about quantum physics in order to
Oct 11, 2016 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved almost every page. I've seen quite a few comments that thought the "talking to the dog" metaphor got tired. All I can say to those people is "you obviously don't love your dog!" Or, worse, perhaps you're a cat person. My only problem with Emmy (the dog) was that she's clearly smarter than my dog, who really didn't get a thing out of this book.

Like when Emmy doesn't get a joke: ‘“It's a physics joke,” I explain, because that always makes things funnier.’ How can that not be funny?

Louisa Heath
Mar 07, 2012 Louisa Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Why Talk to Your Dog about Physics?'

In his attempt to bring the rather complex discipline of quantum theory/physics/mechanics to the masses, or at least those masses who chose to pick up a science book, Orzel uses the interesting framing device which the book's title alludes to. Conversations between Orzel and his adopted German Shepard cross Emmy are sprinkled liberally throughout the text, adding some needed lightness between the heavier chunks of hard quantum theory.

Subjects discussed by the
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
Peter Mcloughlin
This was loaned to me by a friend. It is a very down to earth and accessible introduction to Quantum Mechanics and the strangeness of Quantum world. You will get the Uncertainty Principle, Wave-Particle Duality of course but you will get Quantum Tunneling, Aspects of QED, Quantum Zeno Effect, The Quantum Eraser experiment, and the Many Worlds Interpretation. Very fun book and makes the subject more easily graspable. Definitely glad it was lent to me.
Ben Babcock
Maybe a dog person would find Chad Orzel’s attempts to talk quantum mechanics in the language of a pet and her owner more endearing. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog is Yet Another Pop Sci look at quantum mechanics, albeit one from a more technical than, say, historical perspective. Orzel frames each chapter within a conversation with his dog, Emmy, grounded in the context of something a dog would do, like hunt bunnies or eat treats. Unfortunately, the writing tries too hard to be cutesy and fun ...more
Aug 10, 2010 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 05, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jun 11, 2013 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book, despite its quirky, and somewhat cringe-making, style where the author is talking to his dog - and the dog, who is already quite knowledgeable about physics, replies. In the late 1960s, I had studied quantum mechanics at university as part of a chemistry degree course so I had some prior understanding of the subject matter. I found this book both refreshed what I knew and considerably added to it.

It's far less mathematical than the book on quantum physics by Brian Cox
Linda Addison
Aug 15, 2015 Linda Addison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a lot of fun reading this book. Cuz the science geek in me can't get enough of this stuff. This book makes some serious science concepts easier to grasp and makes me laugh (per conversations with dog).
Dennis D.
Jan 02, 2010 Dennis D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Huw Evans
Mar 07, 2012 Huw Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
We are all taught the basics of Newtonian physics at school, of gravity, force, mass and acceleration. Some of us can vaguely remember the equations learned to get us through exams, even if we were uncertain of their value in the real world. When I watched a physics teacher overcome the potent effects of gravity by lifting a paperclip from a tabletop I wondered what was the value of the things we were being taught. This was the same gravity, surely, that kept the moon in place, so what stopped m ...more
Alisa Bagrova
Initially, this book really made me excited as I finally immersed into quantum physics as it always looked so fascinating. Now I'd say, if someone wants to read a book on quantum physics merely out of interest and horizon broadening, this is just the book. Other than that, the further you dig, the more it starts to become annoying. That is simply because quantum physics can't be taught on a macro level, therefore the examples given start to interfere with further understanding. I found myself cr ...more
Kristine Berzina
My physics teacher should have read this book, she was awful at teaching physics, this read is great, if you want to know more about quantum physics, also catch up on your classical physics. I was particularly fascinated by quantum particle entanglement, Hawking radiation, antimatter, particle teleportation, which is, by the way, just copying one state of quantum particle to another, not actual teleportation :D, Schrodinger's cat thought experiment and tunneling, but there are plenty of other th ...more
Thomas Holder
Evidently, teaching me quantum physics is harder than teaching a dog. Whilst I tried to read this book sequentially, absorbing every snippet of information I could, but I couldn't. I re-read most chapters, sentences and sometimes words, but finished it eventually. Generally, I found the dog conversations quite annoying and strange (my dog is usually just sick everywhere), but they maybe made things slightly easier to comprehend. Quantum physics is a really hard topic and I'd suggest taking this ...more
Mar 05, 2010 Yoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, physics
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
Tin Wee
Dec 05, 2011 Tin Wee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I must be a stupid dog. The book tries to explain basic concepts of quantum physics in as layman a language as I think is possible, and I think I understand at a superficial level what some of the theories are, but I found some of the concepts difficult to grasp even after rereading many times. One thing I found disappointing was there wasn't much explanations on how it makes things like quantum computing and LED switches work. What I did like was the last chapter which exposes many of the frau ...more
Apr 13, 2010 michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, 2010
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.
Apr 03, 2016 Theresa rated it liked it
The conversations he had with his dog were just too much; I skipped basically all of them after reading the first few. It's like when a friendly but heinously awkward math teacher tries to crack jokes in class and everyone feels bad and embarrassed about it.

But: the dog-based analogies and examples to describe the physics that took place outside of those 'conversations' were pretty good! The basis of this book was neat and an overall interesting idea.
May 11, 2013 Adrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend Mal said I should read this so I did. I can not say I knew anything about Quantum Physics, and I am not sure that I am yet an expert, however I think I do know a little more. Chad Orzel is clever enough to make a complex subject understandable for his dog, maybe I could understand a little too. I like the cross between Physics and Philosophy, I am not sure as I coped with the maths. I did find the book an interesting and fun read. I just need to catch up with his clever dog.
Jun 04, 2011 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 30, 2015 Amin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finished
آغاز کتاب بد نبود اما با خواندن هر چه بیشترش به این نتیجه رسیدم که نویسنده یک سری مطالب را از وبسایتها و کتابهای مختلف جمعآوری و منتشر کرده است. بیشتر مطالبی که در کتاب گفته شده بود را در کتابهای فیزیک دوران دبیرستان خونده بودم و به هیچ عنوان خواندن این کتاب را پیشنهاد نمیکنم.
نویسنده به هیچ عنوان سعی نکرده بود که زبان سادهای برای توضیح فیزیک کوآنتوم به کار ببرد و کتاب بیشتر شبیه یک مقاله علمی بود. برای همین کتاب را در نیمه راه رها کردم و کامل نخواندم.
Feb 21, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is indeed the first book about quantum physics that didn't make me cry and stop reading after the first pages. It is popular science and it is written in such a manner that even laymen are able to understand at least the basics. Quantum physics still blows my mind, but the funny examples with squirrels and rabbits made it easier to at least understand what's going on in the experiments. I would recommend it as an introduction to the field for all laymen.
I liked this book. I liked the fact that it was fun and funny. I'm only at a beginner level in physics so I didn't quite understand a lot of it. Despite this though, it was a great and fun introduction to the wacky and wonderful world of quantum physics.
May 14, 2012 Anita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate to admit it but I could not finish this book. Apparently, the author's dog is smarter than I am because, after reading about 2/3 of the book, I still understand very little about quantum physics. I think I'll stick to biology in the future.
Jenny Hemming
Jan 01, 2011 Jenny Hemming rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertainingly accessible intro to weird stuff. No doubt I'll be returning to it as a way out of future confusion!
Jun 16, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite clever! These explanations make quantum theory much more accessible.
May 30, 2017 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Μια πρώτη ίσως εισαγωγή στην κβαντική φυσική.
Ίσως ούτε καν, η ανάλυση που κάνει είναι εύκολη, δεν εμβαθύνει πάρα πολύ και είναι ανάλαφρο και διασκεδαστικό ταυτόχρονα.
Το comic relief της συζήτησης του συγγραφέα με τον σκύλο του δίνει μια πάρα πολύ ευχάριστη νότα.
Πραγματικά το χάρηκα όταν το διάβαζα και ας το πήγαινα πάρα πολύ αργά
Dec 01, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 about Chad Orzel...

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“Dogs come to quantum physics in a better position than most humans. They approach the world with fewer preconceptions than humans, and always expect the unexpected. A dog can walk down the same street every day for a year, and it will be a new experience every day. Every rock, every bush, every tree will be sniffed as if it had never been sniffed before. If dog treats appeared out of empty space in the middle of a kitchen, a human would freak out, but a dog would take it in stride. Indeed, for most dogs, the spontaneous generation of treats would be vindication—they always expect treats to appear at any moment, for no obvious reason.” 3 likes
“Quantum mechanics seems baffling and troubling to humans because it confounds our commonsense expectations about how the world works. Dogs are a much more receptive audience. The everyday world is a strange and marvelous place to a dog, and the predictions of quantum theory are no stranger or more marvelous than, say, the operation of a doorknob.*” 0 likes
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