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Quantum Physics for Poets Hardcover – January 1, 2011


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Quantum Physics for Poets + Beyond the God Particle + Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616142332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616142339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In their second work (after Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe), co-authors Lederman, the Nobel Prize winning director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and present director Hill treat nature as a language to be learned, taking readers on a journey from the large to the small, "to a world within our world" and giving them a primer in the language of modern science. Star Trek, Galileo, and Newton and kick things off, and the authors address competing theories of light. Is it a wave transmitted through the ether, or a beam of photons? What could be ancient history comes to vibrant life in an engaging narrative that reveals contradictory experiments that found light to be both a wave and a particle-simultaneously. This led to further anomalies, as Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger, in experiments to determine the precise location and time of an event, challenged the fundamental idea of classical physics and opened the door to probability theory. The authors give the reader a peek into the wonders of modern physics-from early "Eureka" moments to field theory and string theory-in a highly accessible introduction to third millennium science.
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Review

“A sparkling and articulate new account of how the quantum revolution changed 20th century science – and, as a further delight, how physics and poetry can speak the same language.”
— Chicago Tribune

"A little gem of a book on an enormously profound and, in many ways, a mysterious subject….”
— Contemporary Physics Book Review

"Lederman and Hill, two very well known physicists, have written in a prose that speaks to the poet in all of us. A delightful and illuminating guide through the mysteries of the quantum world."
Gino Segré, department of physics and astronomy, University of Pennsylvania

More About the Author

Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Laureate (Batavia, IL), is Resident Scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Pritzker Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the author of the highly acclaimed The God Particle, the editor of Portraits of Great American Scientists, and a contributor to Science Literacy for the Twenty-First Century. Dr. Lederman and coauthor Christopher T. Hill are also the coauthors of Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe.

Customer Reviews

Written in plain language for all to understand.
bruce ascough
I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest at all in the field of quantum physics.
Louis Weltzer
Some of the concepts in this book were really awesome.
M. Thuot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Keith H. Bray on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I cannot believe that this very fine book lacks a review. Perhaps the title conjures up the idea that this is a book on quantum physics and poetry--like the recent book on quantum physics and music. This is absolutely untrue and the only poetry is the poetic writing style in which this book was penned. That is not to say there that there are no poems in the contents, but these are minimal and are akin to introductory remarks like a quote for an opening chapter. I would dare say that, almost like reading a piece of good fiction, Lederman's book has a poetic flow that makes is difficult to set down. I made it a quest to finish this book before setting my sights on another book, like Briane Greene's newly released book which is still untouched on my book shelf.

Mr. Lederman (and Christopher Hill) have inflected a fantastic introductory and popular level text into the fray of many such books. There are only 10 chapters, but what makes this introductory text stand out from others is the extensive writings on familiar matters such as Thomas Young's famous 2-slit experiment. I promise the reader that, unless they are physicists, they will be introduced to a host of new insights, concepts and unexpected materials related to very familiar themes that have been glossed over in previous books. The chapters on quantum physics and chemistry are priceless and rarely highlighted in preceding books.

Like all books that are within 300-pages, the contents cannot be exhaustive. However, all of the major elements of classical and the new physics are represented. This book is not for the physicist--unless they would use it as a supplement in an introductory class on quantum physics.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Louis Weltzer on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am not a scientist, but over the years I have read a number of books like The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism and Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics and Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics that present the enigma that is quantum physics to a more general audience. This book is, in my opinion, easier to read and a more more in-depth treatment of this subject than any of those other excellent books. Lederman and Hill present the material in a manner that is scholarly, practical, literary and sometimes humorous. As a relatively short overview, Quantum Physics for Poets spares the lay reader most of the mathematics that is the the heart of theoretical physics, but readers may access the authors' website ([...]) where "appendices" presenting more complete discussions of various topics in classical and quantum physics may be read or downloaded. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest at all in the field of quantum physics.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Goetz K. Oertel on March 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lederman demonstrates his insight into the workings of quantum theory by finding analogies that can only be described as brilliant. The few poets I know might not learn enough to explain the subject to others - but they should get an appreciation for the comprehensiveness of quantum theory in its realm - and perhaps for the beauty that lies in perfection, the exceptional precision with which even experiments that were designed to invalidate or at least challenge quantum theory turned out instead to prove it correct. Poets, laymen, and physicists alike can expect Lederman to show them new ways to look at the nature of quantum theory and, in turn, at how quantum theory describes nature. "Quantum theory for poets" is educational, mind-expanding, and over wide stretches fun to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dee German on June 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The absolute best book on quantum physics for non-scientists ever written. Easy to understand, no equations, and sprinkled with humor. It starts out with the physics discoveries of the 18th century and moves the reader gently into the mysteries of the quantum world. As a scientist myself I have never really accepted quantum physics as reality. This book made a believer of me!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George W. Hackett on March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enough mathematics to assist the reader in visualizing key points. My calculus is weak and diff equations non- existent. This book gives me more detailed visualizations than I've had from previous books on quantum mechanics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Al Brunsting on February 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This topic is highly non-intuitive. The authors set the historical contexts and clearly explain most of the mystery. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand quantum physics, which has been so spectacularly successful in explaining the physics at the atomic and subatomic scales. Most of this understanding is used to develop the technology that elevates our standard of living.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Witzel on August 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My only regret with this book is that is was not available when I was taking college physics. It should be a required reading BEFORE jumping into a calculus based quantum physics course. The way the author builds on history to explain current theories provides tremendous insights that somehow never got made in college; connect-the-dots in modern test based curriculum's never seem to drive home the development process that got us to where we are now in our understanding of the quantum world. This is a must read for anyone in science.
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