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Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  5,931 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you weren’t shocked by quantum theory, you didn’t really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves. In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published May 24th 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published March 5th 2007)
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Randy Gardner I found my copy at a library surplus book store. I would gladly give it to you when I finish it myself.
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Quantum-Theory is a rather complicated matter of which I knew next to nothing prior to reading this book. Of course I heard of some players in this field, like Einstein, Bohr, Schrödinger, or Heisenberg, but it was all very vague and left me standing pretty much in the dark. Manjit Kumar was able to shed at least a little light (some photons if you like) on the topic, and I got a glimpse on this extraordinary achievement of human mind.

Spanning roughly the time between 1900 (Planck's constant) a
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether the science in this book is light or heavy depends on who you are. For me, the science was heavy, as my fascination with science has always been greater than my knowledge of it. I am not a scientist.
That said, I loved this book. Did I understand all the theories, experiments and discussions? No. But I understood enough to follow the narrative and get excited or saddened by events and to share the passion of these giants and marvel at their tenacity and their genius.
Years ago, When I sta
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
I thoroughly enjoyed Kumar’s book. He traces the scientific discoveries leading to quantum theory and the relationships of the scientists with a focus on the Einstein-Bohr debate over the theory’s meaning. I found Kumar’s explanations of complex theories accessible and helpful. I remember in high school and college in the 1960’s always hearing about this strange quantum world that didn’t quite exist unless someone looked at it. Kumar really helps make sense of it. My notes below summarize the sc ...more
Murray Ewing
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
It started with German physicists trying to make a better light bulb, and ended with the collapse of classical physics (if only at the subatomic level). Manjit Kumar’s Quantum is a history of the development of our understanding (if understanding is the right word for something nobody seems to understand) of quantum mechanics, looking into the lives of the key players as much as their discoveries.

The two major players are Einstein and Niels Bohr, who, while agreeing that the equations behind qua
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read a few books on Quantum physics and its incredible quirks and its implications about the nature of reality. By comparison, this book is light on the science, but provides an excellent history of quantum physics. There are historical fact that I had never heard of, such as the rivalry between Schrodinger and Heisenberg. Any book on quantum physics makes you think that Schrodinger was one of the pillars of the quantum community, but in fact he was an outsider and at odds with Bohr/Heisenb ...more
Ami Iida
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
It's written about the quantum mechanics history.
In this work the author managed to give a superb account of the development of thought about quantum by bringing to life all the great physicists involved (Planck, Einstein, Born, Bohr, Schrödinger, de Broglie, Wien, Pauli, Heisenberg, Dirac, Boltzmann, Compton, Bohm, von Neumann, Bell) through vivid vignettes of their scientific accomplishments, interpersonal relations and the historical background. As it is evident from the title, the aim of the book was to present the clash of philosophical v ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of popular science books on quantum theory but this one is different in that its aim is to question what's meant by reality. Manjit Kumar achieves this objective admirably. He also provides what I've found to be the best and most coherent account of the history of the development of quantum theory that I've read, managing, at the same time, to bring alive many of the key physicists and mathematicians involved, and not just Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein who are in the book's titl ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-non-fiction
Many good books are written to simplistically explain the theoretical revolutions brought about in The first half of the tweNtieth century. Great biographies are published on the protagonists. But this book is something just different, wonderfuLly different.

Sidestepping relativity is never easy while talking about Einstein. The book manages this. His opposition to Quantum theory is often either trivialised or made ridiculously philosOphical. The book masterfully traverses the landscape.

But the b
Britta Böhler
A very interesting and detailed account of the development of quantum physics and the decennia-long discussion between Einstein and Bohr about the nature of reality. Not an easy subject but the author manages to make it accessible for non-scientist, (and he kept the mathematicas at a minimum). I listened to the audiobook (ca. 14 hrs), beautifully read by Nat Porter.
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“After Elsa’s death, Einstein established a routine that as the years passed varied less and less. Breakfast between 9 and 10 was followed by a walk to the institute. After working until 1pm he would return home for lunch and a nap. Afterwards he would work in his study until dinner between 6.30 and 7pm. If not entertaining guests, he would return to work until he went to bed between 11 and 12. He rarely went to the theatre or to a concert, and unlike Bohr, hardly ever watched a movie. He was, Einstein said in 1936, ‘living in the kind of solitude that is painful in one’s youth but in one’s more mature years is delicious’.” 5 likes
“Although it might be heuristically useful to bear in mind what one has actually observed, in principle, he argued, 'it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone'. 'In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe.” 1 likes
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