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Showing 11-20 of 134 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 183 reviews
on September 25, 2016
Great book. Lots of detail that I've read in other books. Good summary of the history of quantum mechanics.
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on December 16, 2010
Of all the hundreds of books I have read, "Quantum" is truly the best! The history of the quantum era is captured in wonderfully rich detail and all of quantum mechanics' historical, personal, and scientific achievements come to life under the skillful writing of Manjit Kumar.
I was introduced to this book by a friend who has the audio version. Right from the beginning of my listening adventure, I knew I had to obtain the book itself....which I did....from I wanted the best, so I ordered the hardcover edition. I plan on reading this again, to my kids.
You do not have to be interested in quantum mechanics or physics to enjoy this has all the elements of a historical masterpiece. I can find no fault in any of it.
Like a great work of art, "Quantum" will sweep you off your feet. Immediately immersing you in a world where few have been, and fewer still travel, Manjit brings it home for all of us.
Interwoven in the historical details of quantum physics' explosive beginnings, lies the personalities of some of the greatest scientists this world has seen to date. And it's a rare book that is historical in nature, but reads like a best-selling novel. I am truly impressed.
After it arrived in the mail, I literally could not put "Quantum" down...until it was read from cover to cover....and I had already listened to the Audible version!
Needless to say, I recommend this book to anyone, regardless of what type of book you are drawn to, "Quantum" has it all.
Do yourself and your family a the hardcover so it will last a lifetime...and without doubt, it will make a wonderful family heirloom. It would also make a great gift! -reviewed by Alan
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on November 6, 2012
"Does the moon exist only when you look at it ?" asked Einstein. This forms the central philosophical battle that Manjit Kumar's book traces through the history of the quantum from 1900 until today. On one side is Einstein, the cultural icon who also happens to be perhaps the greatest Physicist of all time and on the other side is Bohr, a physics icon who among the inner circle may be of equal stature. Einstein could not believe in a world without the realism that seems to be true in the macro world but Bohr felt nature is as the quantum describes it - probabilistic, non deterministic and most importantly dependent on an observer. Joining them in battle are the great physicists of the 20th century whose names live immortalized as constants, measures, principles and equations. Kumar mixes in equal parts biography making this an interesting read beyond the science. Although much has been learned since 1900 and so much of our man-made material lives are a result of the understanding these individuals gained from the quantum world we still cannot really answer Einstein's question. We are all made of quantum stuff and believe in our reality and determinism but all that we are made of does not seem to follow these rules. A wonderful journey through a mind boggling world.
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on August 5, 2014
A fascinating read. Highly recommended. The glimpses into the the personal feelings and prejudices of these great men (heroes of my youth), make them no less towering personalities and the sublime intellects of the last century and a half. It is hard to overestimate the influence and impact that these few personalities have had on our lives.

The author distills the science and mathematics that are central to 'our' current 'understanding' of the universe, and which is central to the this narrative, while still making it understandable to a laymen like me. The parallels to ancient thoughts and belief systems are striking.

[My rating system: Amazon ratings are almost always highly inflated. I never base a purchase decision on a '5' rating. So for a '4' rating from me is high personal praise].
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on November 8, 2012
I do not write in capital letters. This tells you how much I sincerely enjoyed the book.

I would agree with the summation of one who says that this is a boring book for the scientist, but it is a fantastic book for a historian! The character profiles of the scientists like Einstein and Borh, humanized them and hit home the thought that these men were more than just the equations they wrote. It was not a child's book, and was written at college level, but with a passion for the subject.

Quantum Physics is still in its infantile stages. Everything is so unknown. Imagine Einstein or Gell-Mann in contemporary science with all the right equipment. It was only a theory to them. They spent plenty of time arguing over their theories, but it would take decades just to find some correlation.

This book took a subject that was very alien to me, and made me feel at home in a wide-eyed way! I think this would be a good book for anyone who wants to see where it all started. Major kudos go to the Kumar the author for appreciating the fact that there are some of us that just want to know the juice behind the equation!!!!
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on July 13, 2011
Based on the title I expected a detailed report focused on the great debate between Einstein and Bohr. However, when the narrative started with Max Planck I realized the contents was much broader. Kumar presents a very compelling account of the entire quntum revolution including all of the key players and the background drama that unfolded (and continues to unfold).

At first I was dissapointed with the broader scope, however, as I continued I was impressed with Kumar's ability to draw me into the background of the people and the events. There wasn't a lot that was new to me, but the quality of his story telling made it a very enjoyable read. And, his account of the debate itself is excellent, including his description of the famous photo of Einstein and Bohr walking (and debating) together in Brussels during the 1930 Solvay conference.

This is highly recommended for anyone, like me, who obsesses on the nature of reality.
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on July 10, 2010
Modern Education have been conducted in a way that the philosophical ideas behind the great theories discussed in Physics have been kept away from the standard curriculum at universitats. This book belongs to the few one I have found to be interested (I'm speaking as a Theoretical Physicist) because it not only develops the historical frame in which the theory was created (the base of the theory), but also the debates, the ideas that came first and evolved in the way. All of this discussed in a way that keeps you in the book for hours without you even knowing it. Even if you are an already mastered in the area of the Quantum Physics, or if you are starting it, this book will help you understand many of the ¨why¨ we are always asking. This book can make an excellent supplementary lecture for any student in quantum theory, because it fills the gaps that modern textbooks leave to the students that do not understand why is necessary the change in the classical theory, and how it is made. Quantum Theory is not a complete theory, it still have many holes and weak points upon which the theory is develop, for those interested in research the base of the theory, this book can help you refresh your mind from all the heavy reading and give you a clearer perspective.
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on June 28, 2017
If you read only one book on the development of quantum mechanics, this is the one. A good story explaining the physicists and the physics in understandable language.
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on December 9, 2014
A very good coverage of a momentous period in physics, and how true genius (and true scientists) handled great dispute without recourse to hatred, character assassination, or throwing ones toys our of the pram - so unlike those climate scientists of today that brook no criticism. This book enunciates how true scientists should behave, where evidence, experimentation (thought or practical), intelligent discourse, and most importantly of all peer review (as opposed to journalistic mumblings and political comment) are the stock in trade. Should be compulsory reading for anyone doing undergraduate science as part of their scientific methods and logic subjects.
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on December 1, 2010
This book contains a wealth of detail on the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality. There are diagrams of the incisive thought experiments. The Glossary is a great help in understanding the details.

It seems that even though most physicists accept the theory of general relativity, most give little attention to its accompaniment the space-time continuum. An exception is Brian Greene, in "The Fabric of the Cosmos".

The space-time continuum is a three-dimensional curved surface curved in a fourth dimension. That is too much for our intuition. Let us replace it with a two-dimensional curved surface curved in a third dimension. Imagine the curved surface to be a thin spherical ball that is perfectly continuous. That would be impossible to manufacture, but it could be approached. The Heisenberg Uncertanty Principle would be a tear or slit or newly-formed hole in the continuum, so it would no longer be a continuum. Therefore the Uncertainty Principle is not real in Einstein's sense. It is a concession to practicality.

If Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle violates the continuity of space-time, where is it? It must lie in a singularity in space-time. There is an introduction to singularities in "Elementary Geometry of Algrbraic Curves: An Undergraduate Introduction" by Christoper G. Gibson. A little more advanced and extended reference is "Singular Points of Plane Surfaces" by C. T. C. Wall. There sre easy discussions of singularities in cosmology in "Black Holes and Time Warps" by Kip S. Thorne.

It should be remarked that the surface in the vicinity of a singularity may not be perfectly spherical, it may be distorted. As I undersand it, the accomodation will not be entirely local, and so there is Non-Locality. The extended accomodation is not a result of a spreading in time, but co-exists with the local distortion.

Hermann Minkowski is only mentioned in passing (page 39) in Quantum: The Great Debate. Minkowski was Eistein's mathematics teacher, and constructed the four-dimensional continuum that made general relativity possible. Einstein saw the utility of the continuum, and used it after Minkowski died of appendicitus. To understand the nature of Minkowski's further contribution, consider for the moment a sphere in three dimensions. Regardless of the north and south poles chosen for a coordinate system, the distance between two points, as measured on the sphere, will be the same. Minkowski discovered that the same is also true for the four-dimensional counterpart of three-dimensional space: the interval between two points (two events) is independent of the coordinate system. Could the whole of special and general relativity be deduced from this principle, and the fixed speed of light?
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