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Quantum Physics for Poets Hardcover – January 1, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In their second work (after Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe), co-authors Lederman, the Nobel Prize winning director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and present director Hill treat nature as a language to be learned, taking readers on a journey from the large to the small, "to a world within our world" and giving them a primer in the language of modern science. Star Trek, Galileo, and Newton and kick things off, and the authors address competing theories of light. Is it a wave transmitted through the ether, or a beam of photons? What could be ancient history comes to vibrant life in an engaging narrative that reveals contradictory experiments that found light to be both a wave and a particle-simultaneously. This led to further anomalies, as Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger, in experiments to determine the precise location and time of an event, challenged the fundamental idea of classical physics and opened the door to probability theory. The authors give the reader a peek into the wonders of modern physics-from early "Eureka" moments to field theory and string theory-in a highly accessible introduction to third millennium science.
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Review

“A sparkling and articulate new account of how the quantum revolution changed 20th century science – and, as a further delight, how physics and poetry can speak the same language.”
— Chicago Tribune

"A little gem of a book on an enormously profound and, in many ways, a mysterious subject….”
— Contemporary Physics Book Review

"Lederman and Hill, two very well known physicists, have written in a prose that speaks to the poet in all of us. A delightful and illuminating guide through the mysteries of the quantum world."
Gino Segré, department of physics and astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616142332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616142339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith H. Bray on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I cannot believe that this very fine book lacks a review. Perhaps the title conjures up the idea that this is a book on quantum physics and poetry--like the recent book on quantum physics and music. This is absolutely untrue and the only poetry is the poetic writing style in which this book was penned. That is not to say there that there are no poems in the contents, but these are minimal and are akin to introductory remarks like a quote for an opening chapter. I would dare say that, almost like reading a piece of good fiction, Lederman's book has a poetic flow that makes is difficult to set down. I made it a quest to finish this book before setting my sights on another book, like Briane Greene's newly released book which is still untouched on my book shelf.

Mr. Lederman (and Christopher Hill) have inflected a fantastic introductory and popular level text into the fray of many such books. There are only 10 chapters, but what makes this introductory text stand out from others is the extensive writings on familiar matters such as Thomas Young's famous 2-slit experiment. I promise the reader that, unless they are physicists, they will be introduced to a host of new insights, concepts and unexpected materials related to very familiar themes that have been glossed over in previous books. The chapters on quantum physics and chemistry are priceless and rarely highlighted in preceding books.

Like all books that are within 300-pages, the contents cannot be exhaustive. However, all of the major elements of classical and the new physics are represented. This book is not for the physicist--unless they would use it as a supplement in an introductory class on quantum physics.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a scientist, but over the years I have read a number of books like The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism and Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics and Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics that present the enigma that is quantum physics to a more general audience. This book is, in my opinion, easier to read and a more more in-depth treatment of this subject than any of those other excellent books. Lederman and Hill present the material in a manner that is scholarly, practical, literary and sometimes humorous. As a relatively short overview, Quantum Physics for Poets spares the lay reader most of the mathematics that is the the heart of theoretical physics, but readers may access the authors' website ([...]) where "appendices" presenting more complete discussions of various topics in classical and quantum physics may be read or downloaded. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest at all in the field of quantum physics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lederman demonstrates his insight into the workings of quantum theory by finding analogies that can only be described as brilliant. The few poets I know might not learn enough to explain the subject to others - but they should get an appreciation for the comprehensiveness of quantum theory in its realm - and perhaps for the beauty that lies in perfection, the exceptional precision with which even experiments that were designed to invalidate or at least challenge quantum theory turned out instead to prove it correct. Poets, laymen, and physicists alike can expect Lederman to show them new ways to look at the nature of quantum theory and, in turn, at how quantum theory describes nature. "Quantum theory for poets" is educational, mind-expanding, and over wide stretches fun to read.
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The absolute best book on quantum physics for non-scientists ever written. Easy to understand, no equations, and sprinkled with humor. It starts out with the physics discoveries of the 18th century and moves the reader gently into the mysteries of the quantum world. As a scientist myself I have never really accepted quantum physics as reality. This book made a believer of me!
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Enough mathematics to assist the reader in visualizing key points. My calculus is weak and diff equations non- existent. This book gives me more detailed visualizations than I've had from previous books on quantum mechanics.
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This book was great for the most part, and to the modern atheist there are probably no problems at all. I am currently getting ready to teach some high school kids the basics about relativity and quantum theory and got this to get a more relatable version. It was easy to read and full of great information. I did find the authors' frequent references to evolution in a book that deals with the fact that all natural systems gain entropy over time to be a bit, well, biased I guess, and also found it funny that in the same book it points out just how far fetched the chances of this all just happening are. Oh, there are a few more jabs at people of faith scattered throughout the book as well, but if you can look past all of those, it's a good read that gives a good explanation in understandable terms for the non-scientist who's curious about quantum physics.
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