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The Meaning of Quantum Theory: A Guide for Students of Chemistry and Physics (Oxford Science Publications) Paperback – May 21, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0198555759 ISBN-10: 019855575X Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

`I can recommend it warmly. Baggott has a practised, informal, attractive style taht renders the potentially turgid digestible . . . , he gives a lucid, thoughtful, and helpful account of one of this century's great conundrums.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Baggott is a chemist; he combines scepticism with an honest and painstaking effort to understand the message coming from the Copenhagen priesthood, the physicists Irwin Schrodinger, Niels Bohr and their colleagues. He tries, with refreshing modesty, to pass on the results of his labours ... Baggott has an entertaining style, with clever use of analogies and diagrams - and, above all, its realist honesty that shines like a beacon through the fog of contemporary mystical specualtions.' Trevor Marshall and Max Wallis, New Scientist

'The book is clearly written and should be of interest to all scientists and mathematicians.' Aslib Book Guide, Vol 57. No. 10, October 1992

'this reasonably priced and well produced book forms a valuable bridge from basic undergraduate knowledge to the real stuff' R. Crossley, Institute of Physics Journal

`I can recommend it warmly. Baggott has a practised, informal, attractive style that renders the potentially turgid digestible . . . , he gives a lucid, thoughtful, and helpful account of one of this century's great conundrums.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Baggott's strength lies precisely in his appreciation of the problem of making real measurements on microscopic quantum systems using macroscopic devices. Baggott has an entertaining style, with clever use of analogies and diagrams - and, above all, its realist honesty that shines like a beacon through the fog of contemporary mystical speculations. The final sentence is particularly worth noting: "If you find the theory difficult to understand, this is the theory's fault - not yours."' Trevor Marshall, University of Manchester and Max Wallis, University of Wales, Cardiff, New Scientist, October 1922

About the Author

Jim Baggott, Environmental Officer, Lubricants Marketing, Shell International.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Science Publications
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 21, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019855575X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198555759
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
This is one of the best books I came across to read.
Muzaffer Muctehitzade
If you're a physics, math or engineering student I definitely recommend it.
David McMahon
A very well written and researched book that you will be glad you read.
Mike

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on June 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have a fascination for books on the meaning of quantum theory. Many target the layman and dispense with mathematics. Others assume the reader is adept at applying both wave mechanics and matrix mechanics to quantum problems. Published by Oxford University Press, "The Meaning of Quantum Theory", strikes a good balance that is ideal for undergraduate students of physics and chemistry, and is especially useful as a companion for a formal text on quantum theory.
The author, Jim Baggott, combines his experience as a freelance science writer with his skill as a respected lecturer in physical chemistry. In 1989 he was awarded the Marlow Medal from the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry for his research contributions in chemical kinetics and spectroscopy. Baggott is an exceptional writer and I enjoy reading sections at random. I have twice read his book and probably will do so again.
About quantum theory Baggott says, "For the first time, students are taught about a theory which they have to accept and which they have to learn how to apply, but which they cannot be expected to be told its meaning." Baggott argues that beneath the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics, there exists an interpretation, and a philosophy, that warrants investigation.
The first chapter (40 pages) offers a historical overview of the early development of quantum theory that is probably familiar to many readers.
Chapter 2 (35 pages), titled "Putting it into Practice", differentiates Baggott's work from many others. We learn about operator algebra, and then we encounter experimental evidence that we must either use non-commuting matrices, or non-commuting operators, to describe position-momentum relationships in quantum physics.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
A book devoted to the development of quantum theory, Jim Baggott gives readers a much-desired rest from the mathematical rigidity of the subject. This book is fun, pleasant, and easy to read. It introduces the fundamental and key ideas of quantum theory through clever, to-the-point analogies and diagrams. Many physical chemistry students, or just science audience, will welcome this plain approach of the subject. Landmark concepts such as operators, postulates, Pauli principle, Bohr-Einstein debate and Bell's theorem are covered with a lucid and thoughtful account.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike on February 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book concentrates more on the philosophical aspects of quantum theory rather than formalism and problem solving, though some simple and easy to follow derivations are presented that give real insights into the guts of the theory, which will help a reader who goes on to pursue quantum theory in greater detail. The historical debate between the positivists and realists during the theories development is presented in a very readable and entertaining way. A very well written and researched book that you will be glad you read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Metallurgist TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book covers pretty much the same ground as Gribbins "In Search of Schrodingers Cat", but does so in a more mathematical manner. The math is not overly complex, it does not go beyond algebra, but does use very complicated notation systems (including Dirac's bracket notation). The reader should be familiar with the concept of an operator and not be frightened by the sight of partial differential equations, although none are actually solved. The book is aimed at students of Chemistry and Physics, but it is not a textbook per se, but rather an adjunct to a quantum theory text. This book is about the meaning of quantum theory, rather than about solving specific quantum problems. It focuses on the implications of the various interpretations of quantum theory. It not only goes into the standard Copenhagen interpretation (developed by Niels Bohr and colleagues) and the objections to it raised by Einstein and others, but also goes into several other interpretations, such as Einstein's hidden variable idea, DeBroglie's pilot waves and Bohm's quantum potentials. Baggott not only develops these other ideas, but also shows where many have been abandoned by their developers or proved to be inconsistent with quantum theory and experimental data.

By using some math the book Baggott is able to derive the Schridinger wave equation is a very simple manner. This derivation comes from Schrodingers own notebooks and is much simpler than the more sophisticated one that Schrodinger used in his paper describing the wave equation. Baggott also shows where the uncertainty principle comes from and why it is inherent in the mathematics of wave and matrix mechanics because it is a feature of all non-commuting operators.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hopper on November 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
For those interested in modern physics, you could do far worse than read The Meaning of Quantum Theory. This is by far the most intelligable and complete look at Quatum Theory that I have come across. Bagott has written this book for the technically litterate, but has avoided using mathematics for anything other than illustration of some of the finer points of the theory. Whether you have a degree in the physical sciences or not, you will probably find that this book make Quantum Theory as clear as it can be. Having read it at the same time I was taking an undergraduate quantum mechanics course, I found this book helped me make sense of the mathematics. Students who have been, are being, or expect to be exposed to the theory should buy this book and read it; everything will make much more sense.
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The Meaning of Quantum Theory: A Guide for Students of Chemistry and Physics (Oxford Science Publications)
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