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How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,298 ratings  ·  219 reviews
When Quantum Physics expert Dr Chad Orzel went to adopt a dog he never imagined he would end up with one as inquisitive as Emmy. Could she use quantum tunnelling to get through the neighbour's fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? In this witty and informative book, Orzel and Emmy - the talking dog - di ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published January 10th 2010 by Oneworld Publications (first published November 30th 2009)
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Manuel Antão
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Quantum Squirunnies: “How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog” by Chad Orzel

“Uncertainty is not a statement about the limits of measurement, it’s a statement about the limits of reality. Asking for the precise position and momentum of a particle doesn’t even make sense, because those quantities do not exist. This fundamental uncertainty is a consequence of the dual nature of quantum particles.”

In “How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your
Mark Hebwood
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

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
Oct 11, 2016 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
Gary Guinn
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are things about quantum physics that fascinate me. What Einstein called “spooky influence at a distance.” Tunneling. Heisenberg uncertainty. Particle-wave duality. Virtual particles. I’m a humanities creative type, and so I struggle to understand the science behind quantum mechanics. But intuitively it makes so much sense, and so I keep trying to understand.

Chad Orzel’s book How to Teach [Quantum] Physics to Your Dog is an enjoyable analysis of many of the basic concepts of quantum mechan
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Louisa Heath
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
'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
Michel Meijer
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book offers a light explanation of the basic phenomenon of quantum physics, the wave function. I was looking for such explanation (not too high level, no mathematics) and this book really hit the sweet spot. Especially the first chapters were very good, after 50% the book focussed more on the weird universe of quantum teleportation and the measurements done in quantum optics, in line with the professional interest of Chad Orzel. One could argue if the dialogs between Chad and his dog Emmy w ...more
Feb 05, 2010 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!
Peter (Pete) 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.
Kara 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 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.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics, pop-science
This is a perfectly cogent ultra-light introduction to quantum physics.
My only complaint is that the dog bits are entirely superfluous and slightly annoying.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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).
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm still utterly bewildered by quantum mechanics, but dang Orzel sure did try. An excellent book. He helped me understand the uncertainty principle in a way I never had before, and if I couldn't quite make the leap to its application in the subsequent chapters, well, I truly don't think the fault lies with the author. I learned a ton, even if I still find it all too slippery to fully grasp.

If you're new to the extreme weirdness that is quantum, I don't recommend you start here, though. The book
Jithin Mukundan
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is about the author teaching quantum physics to his English speaking dog Emmy. This technique, I think, is supposed to explain quantum physics in such simple words that even a dog could understand. But does the complexity of quantum physics lie just in how it is explained? I don't think so (or probably I am less intelligent than his dog).

Anyway, this book gives a good idea about quantum physics and the phenomena associated with it. The author knows his subject very well and knows how
Ramon van Dam
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've had to think a while before deciding on the score for this one. With a more fine-grained rating system I'd give it 3.5 stars, but given how much fun I've had while also learning new things have pushed it to 4 stars on Goodreads.

The unique concept behind the book is both its charm and the reason for me to doubt whether or not to give it a slightly lower rating. The conversations that Chad Orzel has with his "very good dog" Emmy are mostly cute and original, but the trick eventually did start
Jorge Rosas
A complicated yet quite enjoyable book about quantum physics, it follows the interactions and dialogue of a scientist and his dog, their dialog starts the explanation on various topic and their mechanics as, for example, it is explained why the dog cant be on two places at once to cross a three and ambush a squirrel. It has a lot of complicated stuff to explain but it does so with everyday examples how explains why the physics of the very small are so weird and different from the normal everyday ...more
Nik Perring
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finished it and it was really good. Accessible to the point that I actually understood big chunks with varying degrees of uncertainty (that was a quantum joke, right there). Definitely worth a go. The writing and tone were fantastic - it’s the quantum bits that were more difficult to get my head around. So 5 stars for the writing, the content, fewer by their very nature...

Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a very fun book. would recommend!
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to fault this book. A superb insight into the basics of quantum physics and a great jumping off point for the topic to be explored.
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For me, there is something about the study of how the universe is put together that grabs my brain and won't let it go. There is something beautiful in how everything is connected and by studying this interaction we learn just how similar everything truly is. While a great many books have been written on the subject by minds far greater than mine, many can be a struggle to get through without a much better understanding of the subject. What Orzel attempts to do in this book is break it down int ...more
Dennis D.
Jan 02, 2010 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 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Kristine Berzina
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 05, 2010 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
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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)

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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.” 4 likes
“A particle-like object has a definite position (you know right where it is), a definite velocity (you know how fast it’s moving, and in what direction), and a definite mass (you know how big it is). You can multiply the mass and velocity together, to find the momentum.” 0 likes
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