From Publishers Weekly
What do dog treats and chasing squirrels have to do with quantum mechanics? Much more than you might imagine, as Orzel explains in this fun introduction to modern physics based on a series of conversations with his dog Emmy. Dogs make the perfect sounding board for physics talk, because they approach the world with fewer preconceptions than humans, and always expect the unexpected. Physicist Orzel begins with the basics, explaining how light can be both particle and wave simultaneously—a bit like a dog that can split itself into two to chase a rabbit no matter which direction it runs. A look at Heisenberg's uncertainty principle begins with a hunt for a hypothetical bone. Schrödinger's cat becomes, of course, Schrödinger's dog. Quantum entanglement, quantum teleportation and virtual particles (composed, for example, of bunny-antibunny pairs) are all explained with the author's characteristic lighthearted touch. While Orzel's presentation may be a bit too precious for some, readers who've shied away from popular treatments of physics in the past may find his cheerful discussion a real treat. (Dec.)
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Particle physicist Orzel has a smart and energetic German shepherd-mix, Emmy, who’s interested in what he does for a living that keeps her in treats and kibble. So she asks him about it, and he tells her, with plenty of chaseable bunnies and squirrels illustratively standing-in for photons, electrons, and other particles. He cheerfully and uncommonly clearly explains particle-wave duality; Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (and the popular-media misuse of it); photon superposition and polarization; wave-function collapse and Bohr’s strict discrimination between quantum and classical physics; the many-worlds view of quantum mechanics that defies wave-function collapse; the quantum Zeno effect; quantum tunneling (right through “solid” barriers); entanglement and how it enables teleportation (at the quantum scale, that is); virtual particles and quantum electrodynamics; and the fraudulence of quantum-mechanics-exploiting “free energy” and healing schemes. Emmy’s attempts to apply her new knowledge practically (to catch squirrels and bunnies) keeps the conversation moving. It’s hard to imagine a better way for the mathematically and scientifically challenged, in particular, to grasp basic quantum physics. --Ray Olson