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Understanding Quantum Physics: An Advanced Guide for the Perplexed [Kindle Edition]

Shan Gao PhD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Quantum physics is admittedly the most difficult subject to understand. Physicists, let alone students and laymen, are still puzzled by it today. As Richard Feynman once famously claimed, nobody understood quantum mechanics. The crux of the matter lies in the meaning of the mysterious wave function in the theory. An electron is represented by a wave function. But it remains unclear what physical state the mathematical wave function represents. Exactly what is an electron? Is it a spreading wave or a localized particle? If the electron is still a particle, then how does it move? e.g. how does a single electron pass through two slits?

This book will convincingly show that the real meaning of the wave function can already be unveiled based on the established parts of quantum mechanics. It turns out that electrons are still localized particles, but their motion is not continuous but discontinuous and random, displaying wave-like behavior. For example, in the double-slit experiment with single electrons, each electron passes through two slits at the same time in a random and discontinuous way. Moreover, the book also answers another three fundamental questions about quantum mechanics. How come the Schrödinger equation? Does the wave function collapse during a measurement? If yes, then why and how? Is quantum mechanics compatible with special relativity? If not, then how to solve the incompatibility problem? The original ideas of this book, if confirmed, may finally unveil the mysterious quantum world and make quantum physics comprehensible for everyone.

Book & Thoughts Reviews

This is an ambitious work that reflects admirable grip, and distinctive take, on much of the contemporary philosophy of quantum mechanics literature.
---- Reviewer of Philosophy of Science

The idea of using discontinuous motion as a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics is original.
---- Reviewer of Foundations of Physics

If it goes through, this would be an original and significant contribution to the debate over the nature of motion.
---- Reviewer of American Philosophical Quarterly

Its very existence is at any rate, an excellent illustration of the extent to which physical data force us to depart from commonsense ideas when we try to depict reality “as it really is”.
---- Bernard d'Espagnat, Templeton Prize 2009 Laureate, author of Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and On Physics and Philosophy

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware ! This is an advanced study... April 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have studied the standard quantum mechanics by myself at some undergraduate level or may be somewhat above it. Yet this short book is far beyond it. Thus the readers should be warned beforehand about its level. Actually this is not a text book but rather a research paper where the author tries to present his ideas about the very foundations of the subject. Better to classify it as being about the interpretation of quantum mechanics. His ideas are quite original indeed, and seem to lead to a much better understanding of the subject. If brought in the form of a text book fully digestible after a conventional course it could lead to a far better understanding of the matter. It would be more and more appreciated if he could prepare a basic text book to teach quantum mechanics from the start based on his original and quite deep ideas and derivations. His derivation of Schroedinger equation and arguments about non linear quantum mechanics, meaning of wave function, wave collapse, quantum motion, conservation of energy & momentum etc. are striking and deep going indeed. But unfortunately they are somewhat beyond the conventional undergraduate level to digest fully and be followed exactly in this exceedingly summary form. If one could be patient and is qualified enough to fill all the gaps and glossed over definitions and concepts after repeated readings, then this would be a fantastic leap in her or his understanding and mastering of this basic and most important subject.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Advanced Guide - highly recommended May 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an excellent book but I would not recommend it for the layperson or beginner. It is what it is says, "An Advanced Guide." It does address fundamental issues, but those with no grasp of physics will most surely be left at a loss. If you do have a strong background in physics, you will find this the most wonderful, useful book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am now keen to find more books by this brilliant theoretical physicist.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple AND advanced? July 30, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not as simple as Shan Gao suggests, but an excellent read nevertheless. But, who really, rerally understands this stuff anyway. If you say you do, you don't.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars advanced it is May 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Don't think this is a easy read... author takes one on a trip that requires a substantial background in quantum theory.. and suggests interpretations outside many traditional routes. If you are really into this subject, this is a must read, whether you think the counter views are substantiated or not.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Quantum Mechanics, a Synopsis October 1, 2012
By Thad
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very excellent book containing specific detail on Quantum Mechanics, including development of detailed equations which are usually left out on most books at this level on Quantum Mechanics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Advancedguideretired review September 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The brilliant text delivers exactly what the self explanatory title reveals; this concise volume takes on a difficult task and succeeds admirably! My admiration and respect to professor shan; the reader will invest their time reading his textefficiently and will be well rewarded for their time invested in learning from this "guide" enjoy and be educated!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY Complex Equations that WORK on Kindle! March 9, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you only want to spend $3 US on this little gem, be advised that the Kindle edition and PC/cloud versions work admirably well on e-readers! This is a revelation, because many if most do not, as you likely know.

That said, the equations are partial differential equations and even more advanced stochastic double sums, double integrals, etc. so if you aren't at grad level math, you might find this very difficult reading even with the excellent inline and separate handling of equations. Just wanted to let you know that Kindle works great for this particular title.

By the way, some folks have praised or panned the author's courage in stating his spiritual beliefs, and have also asked for some more basic info. Both are available in the title quoted in the preface, also inexpensive on Kindle, here: God Does Play Dice with the Universe. Enjoy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although I have 2 academic doctoral degrees (neither of them in physics or math), This book is way over my head. I can't really critique the book, because I don't understand it.

I wish I did, but if you aren't a physicist, this book will be difficult to read and comprehend.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful presentation for well qualified readers … not for neophytes!
I am not a post doc quantum physicist, so I am not well qualified to critique this book. I am a "quantum Physics dilettante", if there is such a being! Read more
Published 21 days ago by Big Daddy
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are into this sort of thing, this book is good fun.
OK, I read it and I still don't understand Quantum Physics.
Published 1 month ago by Rich Paleski
2.0 out of 5 stars Had to put it down
I was not able to get very far into it.
My math skills are at the grad school level and I still was not able to really digest this. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Craig Lang
1.0 out of 5 stars Not easy reading
Very difficult to read. I couldn't read more than 50 pages and I dropped it.
It requires physics knowledge beyond engineering level.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep but entrancing
aThis stuff is always a 'go toi sleep' favorite of mine. I am fascinated by the strange reality of Quantum Mechanics and this is a good way to get to the depth. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Dean Wolbach
1.0 out of 5 stars The word "advanced" should be written in bold letters
I couldn't read further than the first few pages...certainly not written for the laypersons, such as myself...would not recommend it...
Published 12 months ago by Brunolem
1.0 out of 5 stars It' not about quantum physics. It's about the author's religious...
I thought it was about quantum physics, but after reading, I found the author actually is talking about his religious belief, which is utterly against science.
Published 17 months ago by nisgz
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, equations! Expainations! Controversy! Pros and Cons! Proofs!
A great summary of the work done since the 1990s, by a contributor. You'll be looking up the topics he covers on the internet every few pages.
Published 17 months ago by happy camper
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More About the Author

Shan Gao is a theoretical physicist and philosopher of physics at the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Physics from University of Sydney. His major interests are foundations of quantum mechanics, philosophy of physics, history of modern physics, and philosophy of mind. His original ideas, including random discontinuous motion, quantum superluminal communication and quantum panpsychism, have been published in professional journals such as Foundations of Physics, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Minds and Machines, Journal of Consciousness Studies, and so on. He is the author of God Does Play Dice with the Universe, Quantum Physics: From Illusion to Reality, Understanding Quantum Physics: An Advanced Guide for the Perplexed and several other books. His first popular science book Quantum: A Historical and Logical Journey (in Chinese) is very successful, and it has sold more than ten thousands copies in China during the last few years. His new edited book Protective Measurements and Quantum Reality: Toward a New Understanding of Quantum Mechanics will be published in 2014 by Cambridge University Press, and the list of contributors includes Yakir Aharonov et al. For more details please visit

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