Start reading The Quantum Story: A history in 40 moments on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

The Quantum Story: A history in 40 moments [Kindle Edition]

Jim Baggott
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $12.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $8.44
You Save: $11.51 (58%)

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Whispersync for Voice

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of $4.99 after you buy the Kindle book.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $8.44  
Hardcover $18.22  
Paperback $14.58  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $21.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged $13.49  
Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Book Description

The twentieth century was defined by physics. From the minds of the world's leading physicists there flowed a river of ideas that would transport mankind to the pinnacle of wonderment and to the very depths of human despair. This was a century that began with the certainties of absolute knowledge and ended with the knowledge of absolute uncertainty. It was a century in which physicists developed weapons with the capacity to destroy our reality, whilst at the same time denying us the
possibility that we can ever properly comprehend it.

Almost everything we think we know about the nature of our world comes from one theory of physics. This theory was discovered and refined in the first thirty years of the twentieth century and went on to become quite simply the most successful theory of physics ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the twenty-first century technology that we have learned to take for granted. But its success has come at a price, for it has at the same time completely undermined our ability to make sense of
the world at the level of its most fundamental constituents.

Rejecting the fundamental elements of uncertainty and chance implied by quantum theory, Albert Einstein once famously declared that 'God does not play dice'. Niels Bohr claimed that anybody who is not shocked by the theory has not understood it. The charismatic American physicist Richard Feynman went further: he claimed that nobody understands it.

This is quantum theory, and this book tells its story.

Jim Baggott presents a celebration of this wonderful yet wholly disconcerting theory, with a history told in forty episodes -- significant moments of truth or turning points in the theory's development. From its birth in the porcelain furnaces used to study black body radiation in 1900, to the promise of stimulating new quantum phenomena to be revealed by CERN's Large Hadron Collider over a hundred years later, this is the extraordinary story of the quantum world.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "The reality of scientific endeavour is profoundly messy, often illogical, deeply emotional, and driven by the individual personalities involved...," writes Baggott, and his wonderful history of the scientists and ideas behind quantum mechanics offers ample entertaining proof. Science writer Baggott (A Beginner's Guide to Reality) tells the tumultuous story through 40 key events, beginning at the start of the 20th century, when Lord Kelvin, a British physicist, announced that scientists now knew everything about how the world worked. That triumphalism soon disappeared with Einstein's groundbreaking papers on relativity, which upended that understanding and defined the battleground that would occupy physics for the next century. Baggott hits all the usual high points, from Niels Bohr's work on atomic structure to the "uneasy alliances" and outright battles between proponents of different theories. Baggott's narrative stands out for its parallel exploration of the tenacious, all-too-human side of things: Schrödinger's unorthodox sex life and his loathing of academia; Richard Feynman's intuitive problem solving with all its "enthusiastic handwaving." The basic history behind the quantum revolution is well-known, but no one has ever told it in quite such a compellingly human and thematically seamless way. 16 pages of b&w illus. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review


"A wonderful history of the scientists and ideas behind quantum mechanics.... The basic history behind the quantum revolution is well-known, but no one has ever told it in such a compellingly human and thematically seamless way."
--Publishers Weekly


"I have never come across a book quite like Jim Baggott's 'The Quantum Story.' He has done something that I would have thought impossible in a popular book. He manages to present the full ambit of the theory, starting with the introduction of the quantum--the basic unit of energy--by the German physicist Max Planck in the beginning of the 20th century, and ending with the search for the Higgs particle at the collider at CERN in Geneva. In doing this Mr. Baggott navigates successfully between the Scylla of mathematical rigor and the Charybdis of popular nonsense."
--Jeremy Bernstein, The Wall Street Journal


"A delight to read. It is clear, accessible, engaging, informative, and thorough. It illuminates an important, revolutionary era of modern science and the varied personalities behind it."
--Peter Atkins



Product Details

  • File Size: 1219 KB
  • Print Length: 490 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199566844
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (February 24, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ZX3KQO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,483 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By Temugin
Format:Hardcover
A delicious book for anybody who loves science and especially physics. The story of the most absurd, funny, incomprehensible theory we have, and still the most effective and powerful of all physical theories: quantum mechanics. A theory that truly shows how reality is different from the common idea we have about it. The story is told in a lively and capturing way, via 40 shorts key "moments", when the theory has been glimpsed, conceived, understood, tested, questioned and applied, by an extraordinary sequence of characters from Planck and Einstein, via Feynman, until our days. Each such "moment" is a lively, very readable, very simple, very human portrait of a crucial step ahead in the modern understanding of the strange and deep structure of reality. The beauty of the book is that it concedes little or nothing to wild unproven speculations or dreams about "what the world might be". It is established physics, and still it is more strange and magic than many current fashionable speculations. At the end, one feels as having understood contemporary physics better than from a textbook or a standard popular science account. A book to be read in a night, or sip bit by bit, one short chapter after the other. A pleasure for intelligence and an extraordinary description of how science actually works.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough going August 8, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This appears by all accounts a thoroughly well researched work. But, it is tough going. If you don't have a grasp of mathematics, this can, in some places, bog you down. But if you have more than just a passing interest in quantum physics, then this should not be a discouragement, as there is much in this book that can be entertaining and enlightening. Particularly if you are interested in the historical development of this area of science.

The Kindle version is well laid out with 'clickable' footnotes.

As someone who is not mathematically inclined but interested in the physical (and not so physical) make-up of our world, this has been a good find.
Was this review helpful to you?
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars crisp writing and some fresh insights June 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jim Baggott is taking on a path well travelled in this recounting of the quantum story. His mode of travel works well, concentrate on the human element, stretch the reader with the technical details and don't oversimplify.

You don't get a Guernsey telling this kind of history without really knowing your stuff, and Baggott shows that he does. For the early chapters, the explanations of quantum theory are as good as any I have read - De Broglie's dual wave-particle hypothesis, Heisenberg's matrix mechanics and Born's rationalisation of the wave function are stand-outs. The shadow of Einstein falls over all players and debate, and Baggott's explanations of the gedankenexperiments of Einstein and others enrich the story.

Baggott's rendition of the middle era of quantum theory after WWII gets a little turgid, with many layers of detail hanging a little limply without more mathematical backbone. The evolution and testing of the Standard Model was laborious in real life, so I guess the story needs to impart some of that. Again, Baggott really knows his stuff so, while this era is slow to wade through, I expect the index will provide the reader with a good reference to be reminded of an overview or context on specific points long after the back cover is closed. The modern era is well described and wide-ranging to help the reader see how topics such as string theory and supersymmetry have influenced modern quantum physics.

Baggott's writing is crisp and his insights and anecdotes are told, or retold, in a fresh style. It's a long story and worth the investment.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars favorable review in the Wall Street Journal April 16, 2011
By V. Rao
Format:Hardcover
Here are excerpts from Jeremy Bernstein's book review in the Wall Street Journal:

'I have never come across a book quite like Jim Baggott's "The Quantum Story." He has done something that I would have thought impossible in a popular book. He manages to present the full ambit of the theory, starting with the introduction of the quantum--the basic unit of energy--by the German physicist Max Planck in the beginning of the 20th century, and ending with the search for the Higgs particle at the collider at CERN in Geneva. In doing this Mr. Baggott navigates successfully between the Scylla of mathematical rigor and the Charybdis of popular nonsense.'

...

'I very much liked "The Quantum Story," but I have a word of caution. It is not easy to read. The problem is not the mathematics. There is almost none. The problem is that physics is hard. Quantum mechanics is hard. Like a good wine, you cannot take this book in gulps. Take it in sips. It is well worth it.'
Was this review helpful to you?
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A History of Great Minds and Achievements July 3, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
An excellent history of quantum physics presented in 40 concise, interesting chapters--from Max Planck developing the physical constant that carries his name in 1900 to today's superstring theory and high-energy particle colliders. While the science and math are presented in a manner that is understandable for most with college-level math and physics, once the book progressed beyond the Standard Model of particle physics (chapter 29), I was only grasping the concepts. However, the history was what really interests me, and the book delivered all I expected and more. The combined cooperation and competition between some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century is fascinating, as is the interplay and interdependence between the theoretical and experimental physicists. As someone who works in software technology and has some capacity for abstract thought, I am in awe of the minds that conceived the subatomic structure of our universe.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Too complex
Too ambitious and too complex. The author has a good concept in mind but in the chronological recount of the development he never could reach where the theory is now (after all the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by NJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It is very good
Published 3 months ago by Robert R. Openshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good History of Quantum Mechanics
While not covering everything, this book does a very good job of hitting the highlights and providing the needed background information. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Richard H. Wachsman
5.0 out of 5 stars great introduction to quantum theory
This takes you from the begining of quantum theory to recent thoughts in a chronological progression that made it much more understandable to me. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Donald A. Holzworth
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jim Baggot hit.
Jim Baggot tells a very exciting story from an important period in the development of modern physics, and the personalities involved.
Published 9 months ago by Jarle mork
5.0 out of 5 stars After reading this, you will try to get hold of a textbook on quantum...
Engrossing. Gives you details of not only how quantum theory got developed, but also how personal interactions of the dominant scientists of this field happened - how they... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sumit Sharma
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read for the armchair participants.
Perfect background for an introduction to the study of particle physics, the players and the story around it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Steve Hammerquist
5.0 out of 5 stars great framework to slot all the elements of Quantum (fact and theory)
I have received more help from this book in the impossible task of understanding Quantum mechanics- the truth versus theory. Thanks so much.
Published 12 months ago by Donald A Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Long and detailed: for the connoisseur, not the beginner
Many books outline the history and principal ideas of quantum mechanics, the spectacularly successful theory which underlies almost every technology of the 20th century. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Simon Manley
3.0 out of 5 stars The Quantum Story: A history in 40 moments
The first half of the book was fascinating! The history of these people!

The second half of the book was almost as if someone else wrote it, dry dry dry.
Published 13 months ago by No_Spark
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.


Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category