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Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide to Science's Most Puzzling Discovery Paperback – October 14, 2003
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About the Author
J.P. McEvoy is a former research scientist and now a science journalist. Oscar Zarate is a highly acclaimed graphic artist who has illustrated many Introducing titles. His prize-winning graphic novel A Small Killing is known throughout the world.
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There are examples on every page, but take for isntance the bottom of p. 42, where we learn that Planck's constant is 0.000000000000000000000000006626. The author then informs us that if this were zero, "we would never even be able to sit in front of a fire! In fact, the whole universe would be different. Be thankful for the little things in life!" End of page, and on to the next subject. Maybe that helped someone. But it didn't help me.
Nor was I helped by the series of pages wherein a young Albert Einstein assumes a very condescending an paternalistic tone to explain to his visibly-confused wife the intricacies of his new theory. I realize the author is only attempting to help us follow the explanation when he peppers each of Einstein's speech bubbles with "Very good, Mileva" and "But my dear Mileva", finally ending with "Good idea, Liebchen..." (after she suggested that yes, he should publish it) "...I'm so pleased when you help me with my work." Einstein then suggests a title and his wife helpfully responds with "Sounds good!" So the segment ends, and by this time I'm feeling fairly disturbed by the Einstein family's household politics, but I still don't understand any of the physics he was supposed to be explaining.
These are only two small examples, but they are representative of the style of writing in the book. As for the art, it is attractive and engaging and will be familiar to anyone who's read any of the other titles in the Introducing series. As other reviewers have said, it doesn't really help the text, but it also doesn't detract from it.
I give this book 2 out of 5 stars because the topic is interesting, the art is well done, and the book does contain a good deal of interesting information. However, the style of writing is grating, and many crucial connections are simply skipped over while a few facts and equations are constantly repeated (we are told several times that S = k log w, but we're never quite sure what this means). The effect, at least for me, was that I came away having learned a few interesting things about the physicists involved but almost nothing about the theory itself. Indeed, my strongest impression from reading this book is that in the future I should avoid reading anything written by the author, J.P. McEvoy.
In short, I would not recommend this book to anyone who doesn't already understand the mathematics underlying Quantum Theory.
If this book had crossed my path during those those formative years of my science career, maybe I would like physics (I won’t promise Dr. Huber that, but maybe). The book is a non-mathematical (read - “fun”) look at the field of quantum theory.
The book is an historical walk through the history and development of quantum theory - its key people and ideas. Filled with cartoonish (yet informative) illustrations, the book could easily hold the interest of a high school student or undergraduate, non-physics major. If additional mathematically intense material available, the book might serve as a general introduction to quantum theory for the mathematics based physics course as well.
The pictures (at least in the e-copy) of the book I was provided were a bit small, leaving it a bit difficult to read and see detail on an e-reader. My experience was a bit better on a app running on my laptop, but still not ideal. The paper book’s illustrations are readable and clear. Sadly, those pictures convey some of the vital ideas presented in the book. Thus, missing or skipping an illustration, because it is too small, may mean missing an important transition or concept in the author’s argument. It would have been helpful to have electronic copies of the images that could be enlarged to an appropriate size for gleaning the information contained.
Save for the cartoons, the story is interesting and readable by the general reader. Of course the mathematics would eventually needed to be filled in from some other source, if that would be the reader’s choice. The history is compelling as one moves from classical physics (and its basic assumptions) to the deeper and more complex ideas inherent to quantum theory. I enjoyed studying material I had seen earlier - though I still do not like physics.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.