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Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: A Guide to the Universe [Kindle Edition]

Marcus Chown
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The two towering achievements of modern physics are quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity. Together, they explain virtually everything about the world we live in. But, almost a century after their advent, most people haven't the slightest clue what either is about.

Did you know that there's so much empty space inside matter that the entire human race could be squeezed into the volume of a sugar cube? Or that you grow old more quickly on the top floor of a building than on the ground floor? And did you realize that 1% of the static on a TV tuned between stations is the relic of the Big Bang?

Marcus Chown, the bestselling author of What A Wonderful World and the Solar System app, explains all with characteristic wit, colour and clarity, from the Big Bang and Einstein's general theory of relativity to probability, gravity and quantum theory.

'Chown discusses special and general relativity, probablity waves, quantum entanglement, gravity and the Big Bang, with humour and beautiful clarity, always searching for the most vivid imagery.' Steven Poole, Guardian

Editorial Reviews


A brilliantly accessible approach to quantum theory and relativity for ‘dummies’ by the New Scientist Cosmology Consultant

Product Details

  • File Size: 452 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction (September 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI91I0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,726 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Physics made easy May 21, 2011
I have an extensive library of books about modern physics including a number of books claiming to make both quantum theory and relativity easy to understand. However, when my 15 year old son came to me last week and asked "which of these is the best to read to understand it all", without hesitation I gave him this book.

Let's be honest it doesn't really matter if Boyle was English or Irish (with thanks to turkle, a previous reviewer) what matters is whether the book explains what it sets out to explain.

The book is divided into two sections, the first dealing with Quantum theory, the second with Relativity. You might ask how a short book can do justice to two such immense subjects - well somehow Marcus Chown does it. He gets to the essence of what these two theories mean and how they work. He uses easy every day language and easily understood analogies to make his points. I came away from this book not only understanding the basics, but feeling ready to tackle some of the more difficult books on these subjects. I also had an increased sense of wonder at not only how amazing the world and universe is, but also what an amazing contribution Albert Einstein has made to our understanding of our world. He really is the heart beat of this book, with both his fundamental contributions to Quantum Theory and creation of Relativity.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lots of things about the universe
are not discovered yet, not explored yet, not identified yet, or not ascertained yet.
But some things are.
And in this remarkable little book Marcus Chown gives us
some of the things that we do know. There are many books out there on
quantum theory and relativity, but few gives the facts in
a popular form, without too much detail. And fewer still are also exciting, fresh, new
and precise at the same time - but somehow this book
accomplishes all these things. Thats cool.

The subject matter is difficult though. Take an electron. It has an electric charge that
comes in two forms, positive and negative. What charge really >>is<< noone
really knows.
Light really is both wave and particles. It is like a coin
with two faces, where we can see either its wave like nature or its
particle nature, but not both at the same time. So what
light really >>is<< is also an unknowable. The book goes into a lot
of the relativistic effects of based on the constant
speed of light. Travelling at speeds approaching
the speed of light is always fun. And highly confusing and thought provoking.
This book also gives us the twin paradox, where one twin on a spaceship
ends up being younger than a stay at home twin. The faster you go, the slower you age.
But if time almost stops if you come closer to the (the speed of) light,
then there is no time for light itself, and distances gets smaller (as speed comes
close to light speed), then for light itself there are no distances, or?
Also a real headbanger - and it would have been nice to seen
that explored some more in the book.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By C McC
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone who wants to get a feel for the peculiar issues of Quantum Theory without digging deeply into the maths will enjoy this. But there is always the maths to help paper over the cracks that no one is ever likely to understand. I got a much better idea of some interrelationships in the theory than ever before.
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This is one of the most fascinating pop science book that I ran into. I did took the quantum courses at grad school, where I walked away with nothing but a bunch of fancy terms/stories/puzzles and of course some names of equations/functions. This book actually tells you that the everyday world is due to quantum theory: sun can shine at its "low" temperature only through quantum tunneling (particle wave and the uncertainty principle); why it is so empty inside an atom (the uncertainty principle); the large amount of cosmic-ray muons were able to reach earth surface only due to time dilation at its high speed (99.92c), and many many more. He even speculated that due to uncertainty principle, big bang was triggered as a fluctuation of a vacuum. Fascinating book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Future imperfect May 22, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the future prospects of the human race it is good to start with at least a modest understanding of the cosmic basics on which life is built and to that end Marcus Chown's book is a good place to start. It is Quantum Theory 101 in language that even us non-academics can comprehend. He has done the hard research yards for us, all we have to do is read and contemplate. A sub title could have been 'Don't sweat the little stuff'. I promise it will not make your head hurt.
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