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The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) [Hardcover]

Brian Cox , Jeff Forshaw
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 31, 2012 0306819643 978-0306819643 1st
In The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw approach the world of quantum mechanics in the same way they did in Why Does E=mc2? and make fundamental scientific principles accessible—and fascinating—to everyone.

The subatomic realm has a reputation for weirdness, spawning any number of profound misunderstandings, journeys into Eastern mysticism, and woolly pronouncements on the interconnectedness of all things. Cox and Forshaw’s contention? There is no need for quantum mechanics to be viewed this way. There is a lot of mileage in the “weirdness” of the quantum world, and it often leads to confusion and, frankly, bad science. The Quantum Universe cuts through the Wu Li and asks what observations of the natural world made it necessary, how it was constructed, and why we are confident that, for all its apparent strangeness, it is a good theory.

The quantum mechanics of The Quantum Universe provide a concrete model of nature that is comparable in its essence to Newton’s laws of motion, Maxwell’s theory of electricity and magnetism, and Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Frequently Bought Together

The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) + Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?) + Wonders of the Universe
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Editorial Reviews


The Economist, 11/5/11
“In Britain Brian Cox…has become the front man for physics…Cox has secured a large fan base with…his happy turns of phrase and his knack for presenting complex ideas using simple analogies. He also admirably shies away from dumbing down…The authors’ love for their subject shines through the book.”

New Scientist, 11/5/11
“A comprehensive account of how quantum mechanics works and why it must be real…The book offers many rewards, and both the language and content are so carefully chosen that it feels concise.”
Nature, 11/10/11
“A solid introduction to the ‘inescapable strangeness’ of the subatomic world.”
Wall Street Journal Europe, 11/11/11
“Britain’s favorite physicist has put away sound-bite science to publish a rigorous introduction to quantum mechanics.”
The Economist, 12/10/11
”A book that breaks all the rules of popular science-writing, by two of Britain’s best known physicists.”

Financial Times, 11/11/11
“Thanks to his television presentations of science, Brian Cox has become Britain’s best-known physics professor. No one communicates the wonders of the universe on screen with more charm, enthusiasm and accessibility. Cox’s latest, co-authored with Jeff Forshaw, a fellow physics professor at Manchester University, retains the charm and enthusiasm…A serious, thorough book about quantum theory for the general reader.”
Kirkus Reviews, 1/15/12
“There is no shortage of popular introductions, but curious readers will not regret choosing this meticulous account…Space cannot be empty; matter constantly appears and vanishes. If quantum laws do not forbid something from happening, it will eventually happen. These are facts; experiments confirm them. Writers often explain these in relentlessly nontechnical language that converts them into a magic show, but Cox and Forshaw will have none of this. Using ingenious pedagogical examples, they demonstrate that weird quantum phenomena make perfect sense…An ambitious explanation of the vast quantum universe aimed at readers willing to work.”
Huffington Post, 2/8/12
“A careful and reader savvy exposition that pulls no punches...If you're interested in the real world and want a worthy introduction to the major achievement of humanity in the past hundred years, get hold of this book, read it slowly, digest it, make it part of your life and your life will change for the better.”
Technology and Society
“A very interesting book…I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take on quantum mechanics without a strong background in math or physics, or to anyone who studied those subjects in college and wants to take the next step into the quantum world.”, 2/23/12
“Highly informative and more than intermittently entertaining…Not a book to be read quickly, lightly or easily. But it is an important book nevertheless, and Cox and Forshaw deserve credit for making a tremendously difficult subject about as accessible and understandable as it can possibly be made.”, 2/21/12
“If you are interested in beginning to crack the code of quantum physics, it is a good place to start.”, 1/28/12
”Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw don't skimp on the accessible approach, but they also make the extra effort to discuss the complexities around quantum theory in far more detail than most other books. It's a tough balancing act, but ends up being handled very well.”
Daily Texan, 2/12/12
“Very well may be the definitive introduction to quantum mechanics. The Quantum Universe is written for the layman, who will likely enjoy it, but it would also be a superb supplement for physics students struggling through early quantum mechanics classes… Those who take the time to read the book properly will come away from it with a profound knowledge of what quantum mechanics is and how it works…This is likely to be as accessible as quantum mechanics will ever be, at least in book form.” 

Wall Street Journal
, 2/26/12
“An engaging whistle-stop tour that takes us from the birth of the field to present-day tests of the Standard Model…in lucid and occasionally droll prose.”
New York Journal of Books, 2/15/12
“Understanding the quantum world in the deep and satisfying way that we’d like to is not at all necessary to describe its workings with exquisite precision. It is this astonishingly accurate mathematical description of the consequences of a set of rules that, as strange as they may seem, actually work, that is the focus of Professors Cox and Forshaw’s brief excursion…The Quantum Universe may not demystify quantum theory, but it does give the reader an idea of the size of the mountain the book is trying to climb—and a toe-hold or two to help get us started on our own ascent.”
Charleston Post and Courier, 2/19/12
“If you make the effort, you will enjoy and benefit from this book, and you'll wow the folks at the water cooler when you drop a few quarks and bosons into the conversation.”

Publishers Weekly, 3/5/12
“Beginning with a brief scientific history that will be familiar to anyone who's completed college physics (but accessible to those who have not), Cox and Forshaw…go on to explain the origin of the periodic table, strong and weak nuclear forces, ‘Why We Don't Fall Through the Floor,’ and myriad other interesting topics.”

San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review, 3/2/12
“Both Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw share a rare skill of taking on a complex topic and making it comprehensible…The book is a masterpiece of modern scientific thought, well worth the reader’s time and attention…The book is an easy read, despite its intense scientific underpinnings…The authors took the time and patience to carry out what they intended to show and did it with insight, style, and intelligence.”, 4/4/12
“This is a propitious time for curious minds to learn more about physics, and in particular about quantum mechanics, its most puzzling and least-understood branch. The Quantum Universe…feels like a good place to start.” 

Portland Book Review, 2/1/12
“Clear language and description.”
Reference and Research Books News, April 2012
“Discusses popular topics in quantum theory in a readable narrative style.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 4/18/12
“A fine attempt to make a complex and infinitely confusing subject more accessible to the average person…By the final chapter, you may find yourself as excited by the details of a dying star as the authors are. This book is an excellent introduction to the basic concepts of quantum mechanics, full of personality as well as information.”, 4/12/12
“[Cox and Forshaw are] masters at making the incomprehensible reasonably accessible…[and] the abstract more tangible. There is no doubt that this is not the book you keep in the bathroom for a quick read during commercial breaks in the big game, but it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to grasp the concept of what makes our world tick.”
Science News, 4/21/12
“Two physicists use simple analogies to explain the weird world of quantum theory.”
Midwest Book Review, April 2012
“It’s a pleasure to see a science title that links daily life to complex scientific topics…Creates a powerful discussion for general readers with minimal scientific background.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews, 5/27/12
“Cox and Forshaw aim to shed some light on this difficult topic, and succeed, showing the scientific principles behind the apparent oddities of quantum world…Readers will be swept away by the authors' contagious enthusiasm….The authors show in fact how quantum theory affects our everyday life…Following Cox and Forshaw throughout the book is a great pleasure: they use a simple and direct style allowing the readers to follow easily their explanations. They successfully accomplish their aim ‘to demystify quantum theory’ without depriving it of its appeal.”

American Journal of Physics, June 2012
“The first several chapters of the book are as good a quick introduction to the subject as you are likely to find anywhere.”

Choice, August 2012
“Replete with wonderful soundbites, demonstrating Cox’s dexterity with popular writing…Here he continues a successful partnership with Forshaw…The University of Manchester (UK) professors write in a manner reminiscent of American physicist Richard Feynman…An entertaining, albeit challenging, quantum primer…Highly recommended.
Science Niblets, 1/8/13
“In very clear language,...

About the Author

Brian Cox is a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester. He is a popular TV and radio presenter and lives in London.

Jeff Forshaw is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Manchester and a recipient of the Institute of Physics Maxwell Medal. He lives in Manchester, England.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819643
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
107 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Awe of Science! January 31, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

"The Quantum Universe" is the interesting book about the subatomic realm. Well known physicist and science celebrity Brian Cox along with fellow physicist Jeff Forshaw take us into the intimidating world of quantum mechanics. Using the latest in scientific understanding and creative analogies these scientists make complex topics accessible to the masses. This 272-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. Something Strange Is Afoot, 2. Being in Two Places at Once, 3. What Is a Particle? 4. Everything That Can Happen Does Happen, 5. Movement as an Illusion, 6. The Music of the Atoms, 7. The Universe in a Pin-head (and Why We Don't Fall Through the Floor), 8. Interconnected, 9. The Modern World, 10. Interaction, and 11. Empty Space Isn't Empty.

1. The ability of great scientists to communicate to the masses.
2. Fascinating topic in the hands of experts. Well researched and well written.
3. Finally, a book about quantum mechanics that I can comprehend and in the process I didn't perceive it was "dumbed" down either. Most importantly, it kept my interest and I learned while doing so. Bravo!
4. Great use of charts and illustrations to assist the reader. Many concepts of physics defy common logic so the choice of sound illustrations is a must in order to understand the concepts. As an example, the use of clocks to understand particles.
5. Grounding what we know based on the best knowledge that science can offer. The authors do a wonderful job of explaining the scientific process and defining what a good scientific theory is all about.
6. This is strictly a science book. The authors are focused on quantum mechanics, not on the supernatural or making fun of those who do.
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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for laypersons February 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Writing a layperson's book on Physics must be one of the most challenging projects known to man. Writers must resist going to the extreme of either making it a comic book with little meaningful insight or turning it into a textbook that goes over the layperson's head.

The best layperson's physics books are written in a sort of cook-book style where the final "dishes" are shown with all their wonderful deliciousness, and the ingredients that they are made from are listed, but the details of how all the ingredients interact to make the flavors are omitted because they are beyond the layperson's understanding and interest.

I recently read such a wonderful book by Cox and Forshaw when I GOOGLED on "Why does E=MC2" and was directed to their book of that title Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?). They beautifully explained why E=MC2 isn't just the equivalence of energy to mass, but is an expression of the basic nature of the space/time universe. They answered every question I wanted to know about the subject and a lot more. That book is one of the top two or three popular physics books I've ever read, and I've been reading them since Isaac Asimov and George Gamow began writing them in the 1960s.

Their new book THE QUANTUM UNIVERSE is NOT a layperson's book. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the "comic book" and 10 being a physics textbook, this would come in at an 8. I didn't find the book to be interesting or meaningful. The problem isn't in the writing, which is lucid. It isn't any lack of illustration; a major effort was put into explaining the concepts graphically as diagrams and pictures. The difficulty is the complexity of the subject matter itself.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad Kindle edition February 12, 2012
By Rob A.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is good, but the Kindle edition is not. The equations appear fuzzy and with low contrast, there are references to pages in the text, but the Kindle edition does not contain pages (only positions), the Index does not contain links and is completely useless, some images cannot be enlarged enough to be readable (problem inherent to the Kindle images).
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, if flawed, account of quantum theory February 14, 2012
Any attempt to explain Quantum Theory is likely to be tough going unless it's so facile as to be pretty well worthless, and parts of this book will be very tough going for anyone with little background in physics or maths. Cox and Forshaw treat the subject and their readers with respect in that they do not fudge issues nor duck important ideas and problems, which means that some pretty serious brainwork is required to follow what they are saying.

I thought some parts of this book were excellent and other parts not so good. The explanations of such things as the Quantum Measurement Problem and the Epilogue on the Death of Stars, for example, are in the excellent category. Much less good was the explanation of phase and quantum interference by constant reference to "clocks," which I found clumsy and unhelpful (although others may disagree). This is quite a serious flaw, as it permeates much of the book. However, the style is readable and the treatment of the subject quite rigorous for a "popular" book, so overall I found it an incisive account of the state of Quantum Theory in late 2011

There is a reasonable amount of mathematics in the book, although most is explained in a way that should be comprehensible to those with only a little background in the subject. It is badly hindered, though, by a number of unnecessary errors which really should have been eliminated in proof reading. For example, a footnote on p67 asserts that... "a a millionth of a kilogramme." More seriously, in the otherwise excellent Epilogue in which the authors take us gently and expertly through a rather complex mathematical process, several errors in the text will make the argument almost impossible for anyone with little maths to follow.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Best book I have read in my life. If you like the subject, this the bible.
Published 2 days ago by Fred
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not explain quantum mechanics well
I got this book to help me understand quantum mechanics. I have two degrees in math. This book did not help in teaching me the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jack Lieberman
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating and rewarding read
I consider myself to be pretty much a dummy where science & maths are concerned but, after enjoying Professor Cox's Wonders Series, I decided to try to get a handle on the Quantum... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. J. Walker
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
I like Kathy stuff but I guess I was out if sorts when I read this one. Maybe a revisit is needed later...
Published 2 months ago by rob0bOy
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
It's difficult to find book relating to Quantum Mechanics that include the maths. This book truly struck gold and is the perfect book for a beginner Quantum Mechanic ;D
Published 2 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars great teacher resource
This book contains loads of activities that can be used for all secondary age groups, and even higher ed/college. I use them for both English Composition 1 and 2. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sheryl E. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars Written so even I can understand it
I'm one more of those not-scientists who have become interested in Quantum Physics. Who knows why but I find it fascinating. Read more
Published 4 months ago by barbara sheehy
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but needs some work.
I've enjoyed other work by Brian Cox, and to be fair to the authors, this isn't the easiest subject to explain to people without an extensive background in physics. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nicklas R. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars It was good.
Again, I'd say that there was too much math. I didn't really enjoy the 'clocks' they used as 'metaphor' (¿?) to explain the several positions of particles. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Cristina Borja
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Cosmology, not cosmetology.
Cox can be convoluted, but stick with him and he will deliver an explanation. He loves his subject and that draws you in. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Giordano
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