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101 Quantum Questions: What You Need to Know about the World You Can't Seeby Kenneth W. Ford
Synopses & Reviews
Ken Ford's mission is to help us understand the "great ideas" of quantum physics--ideas such as wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, superposition, and conservation. These fundamental concepts provide the structure for 101 Quantum Questions, an authoritative yet engaging book for the general reader in which every question and answer brings out one or more basic features of the mysterious world of the quantum--the physics of the very small.
Nuclear researcher and master teacher, Ford covers everything from quarks, quantum jumps, and what causes stars to shine, to practical applications ranging from lasers and superconductors to light-emitting diodes. Ford's lively answers are enriched by Paul Hewitt's drawings, numerous photos of physicists, and anecdotes, many from Ford's own experience. Organized for cover-to-cover reading, 101 Quantum Questions also is great for browsing.
Some books focus on a single subject such as the standard model of particles, or string theory, or fusion energy. This book touches all those topics and more, showing us that disparate natural phenomena, as well as a host of manmade inventions, can be understood in terms of a few key ideas. Yet Ford does not give us simplistic explanations. He assumes a serious reader wanting to gain real understanding of the essentials of quantum physics.
Ken Ford's other books include The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone (Harvard 2004), which Esquire magazine recommended as the best way to gain an understanding of quantum physics. Ford's new book, a sequel to the earlier one, makes the quantum world even more accessible.
"In this entertaining and comprehensive overview, Ford (coauthor of The Quantum World), former director of the American Institute of Physics, manages to encapsulate modern physics while illuminating rather than befuddling the lay reader. Starting with the introductory 'What is the quantum, anyway?' and ending with the amusingly unanswerable 'How come the quantum?' (asked by his mentor, who attempted to answer the question by writing a poem that ends, How could we have been so stupid / for so long?) Ford explains the essential concepts of quantum reality, our small-fast world, full of uncertainty and probability, where all matter can exist in more than one state simultaneously. Ford brings interesting and entertaining anecdotal and historical material into his answers, organizing and shaping his book around 15 subjects. By using humor and straight talk to answer questions that often bedevil the non-scientist who attempts to grasp this knotty subject, Ford has created an entertaining read and an excellent companion piece to more detailed popular treatments of modern physics. 104 illustrations, nine tables, two appendices. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
A retired director of the American Institute of Physics, Ford presents his questions in 15 sections on such matters the small and the swift, atoms and nuclei, constancy during change, waves and probability, and quantum physics at every scale. Among the questions are what is Planck's constant and what is its significance, what are some quantum scales of time, why do bosons and fermions have such funny names, what are the big four absolute conservation laws, what is the two-slit experiment and why is it important, how do electrons behave in a metal, what is superconductivity, and what is string theory. A high-school or undergraduate background in physics makes following his explanations quicker. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This reader-friendly, richly illustrated book provides an engaging overview of quantum physics, from "big ideas" like probability and uncertainty and conservation laws to the behavior of quarks and photons and neutrinos, and on to explanations of how a laser works and why black holes evaporate.
About the Author
Kenneth W. Ford, retired director of the American Institute of Physics, is coauthor of Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics.
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