Book: Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction

I’m feeling a lull after reading Haruki Murakami’s epic 1Q84. I even considered giving in to star-inflation and giving it a six- or seven-star rating. 1Q84 changed my taste in books.

I’ve also run out of books. 1Q84 raised the bar for me so drastically that yesterday, for the first time ever, I returned home from the library empty-handed. That Chinese children’s book aside, nothing on the shelves appealed to me. Only 8 books in the library’s database had the caliber to match Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (most of which are novels by J.K. Rowling, Haruki Murakami and Mo Yan), and none of them were available. I’m roughly third in the queue for each of them, so about a two-month wait is expected.

So I hunted for books on my iPod. Like most digitally-pirated books, I found they were all quite boring, too (it’s interesting how the pirate internet contains only the most popular music but only the least popular books). This book on Quantum Theory was the best of a terrible selection.

So here goes…

Quantum Theory
Another PDF on iBooks

If I were ever forced to learn quantum theory, I’d start by reading this book.
128 pages, ★★★

Neither entertaining nor comprehensive, this book is exactly what its title promises: a very short introduction.

Written by the highly-respected John Polkinghorne, this book introduces a world where the laws of nature are so far-removed from that of our everyday experience that they are practically incomprehensible to most laypeople. Feynman said, “we can safely say that nobody understands Quantum Theory”. Someone else famous said, “If a person claims to understand quantum theory, then they are lying”.

I didn’t enjoy reading this book, and I’d only recommend it for those who, for whatever unthinkable reason, are required to know the basics of quantum theory (perhaps for a one-off job or for a test). Only in this rare and unfortunate circumstance would I recommend this book to anyone sane. I give it stars because it’s a well-written (if dry), and if you push yourself, you can learn something. I hold back two stars because this book want as fun as it could’ve been. A Very Short Introduction to Relativity might be more interesting. ★★★

1Q84 refined my taste in books. You’ll see more famous fiction reviewed on this blog in the future. I promise.

3 thoughts on “Book: Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction

  1. http://www.introducingbooks.com/book/view/quantum-theory

    Has more pictures and less words. I’m occasionally confounded my my father asking me a question about quantum physics inspired by something he’s read or something he’s heard on the radio. Having studied the subject – and actually enjoyed it – I still struggle to decipher what it is he wants to know.

    To me, quantum mechanics is an eloquent branch of mathematics. Trying to understand it is like trying to mend a spider’s web: impossible, yet to see, beautiful.

    Like

    1. I would have much preferred to read this one by Brian Cox: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quantum-Universe-Everything-that-happen/dp/0241952700 but it wasn’t in my local library. That comic-style book looks interesting, too. With that, I’d both enjoy *and* learn.

      Quantum theory is very interesting, and that’s why I downloaded this book in the first place. It’s been sitting in my iPod for over a year. Since then, though, I read 1Q84, and everything compared to 1Q84 seems unappetising at the moment.

      Like

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