Read The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen by Brian Cox Jeffrey R. Forshaw Online


The Quantum Universe brings together two authors on a brilliantly ambitious mission to show that everyone can understand the deepest questions of science. But just what is quantum physics? How does it help us understand the world? Where does it leave Newton and Einstein? And why, above all, can we be sure that the theory is good? The bizarre behaviour of the atoms and enThe Quantum Universe brings together two authors on a brilliantly ambitious mission to show that everyone can understand the deepest questions of science. But just what is quantum physics? How does it help us understand the world? Where does it leave Newton and Einstein? And why, above all, can we be sure that the theory is good? The bizarre behaviour of the atoms and energy that make up the universe has led to some very woolly pronouncements on the nature of all interconnectedness. Here, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw give us the real science, and reveal the profound theories that allow for concrete, yet astonishing, predictions about the world. This is our most up-to-date picture of reality....

Title : The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen
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ISBN : 12968382
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Number of Pages : 247 Pages
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The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen Reviews

  • Brendon Schrodinger
    2019-01-29 20:25

    I love Brian Cox and I went to see him in a live show in Canberra at the end of October. I started this book the day before that with a huge amount of enthusiasm and excitement, but the grind soon slowed down and I finished it this afternoon.What happened?I think other reviews have summed the problem up correctly. To explain certain aspects of quantum mechanics the authors latched onto an analogy with clocks. It was fine at first and I understood what was going on. But then it was expanded upon again, and then again, oh and 100 pages later. Over time I was confused about why we were winding clocks back at this point. Does how long can you carry an analogy before it becomes easier to explain the aspect you are trying to convey from scratch? I came away with a feeling that it would have been much easier if I sat myself down with a textbook and worked through the problems sans clocks. Using an analogy so much and with so much depth was a huge risk and for me it did not pay off at all.But there is still a lot of meat to get your teeth into. It wasn't all about the clocks...not quite. I have been exposed to quantum mechanics from a chemistry viewpoint, most of my work has to do with molecular orbitals or the behaviour of electrons. So most was broadening my understanding of the subject. I don't know if I could recommend this book to many people. It's not going to be accessible to most people at all. Physicists will probably know how this works without the analogy and I'd guess other scientists or science enthusiasts may get frustrated like myself. It's a curious book which makes me wonder who the authors were intending the audience to be.

  • Gerald
    2019-01-23 16:19

    Okay... well first off I should declare that I have a degree in Quantum Physics. And that I was bought this book as a present. Its clearly trying to explain Quantum Theory for 'the layperson' - those that aren't scientists or mathematicians. That's a problem, because Quantum Theory is really rather complicated. In order to try and explain how wave addition works, the authors come up with what they obviously believe is a very straightforward mechanism to do with clocks. Only it takes them so long to explain the clock mechanism, that we've then forgotten what its for. And to be honest, I didn't understand the clocks thing anyway - and I do understand how wave addition works (so fortunately could skip this bit). But then they come back to it again and again.And despite openly saying at the beginning, 'we're not going to use many equations in this book', they've clearly completely forgotten that by halfway through, or just realised its impossible to explain complicated Physics without them.So in the end I struggled to understand everything they were talking about, in their efforts to 'dumb it down', but I suspect those efforts have failed too, because its probably more complicated to try and explain it simply than to explain it in your own language.And if anyone really doesn't like Brian Cox (I was fairly neutral on him, but am put off a little now), I don't think you'll like this much... its definitely a wee bit smug. But the main problem is obviously that it ends up being inaccessible to virtually everyone.Nice jacket though.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-01-25 20:43

    If only they could stop with their stupid clocks and use standard terminology like 'amplitude'. Why complicate such a simple concept when there is ample stuff to simplify? Bad grades for that.

  • Brian Clegg
    2019-01-23 22:43

    Brian Cox has picked up a lot of fans (and a few parodies) for his light and fluffy 'here's me standing on top of a mountain looking at the stars' TV science shows - no doubt a fair number of them will rush out and buy his latest collaboration with Jeff Forshaw. They will be disappointed. So, I suspect, will a number of My Little Pony fans, as with its rainbow cover and glittery lettering it only needs a pink pony tail bookmark to complete the look.The reason The Quantum Universe will disappoint is not because it is a bad book. It's brilliant. But it is to Cox's TV show what the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is to Toy Story. It's a different beast altogether.As they did with their E=mc2 book, but even more so here, Cox and Forshaw take no prisoners and are prepared to delve deep into really hard-to-grasp aspects of quantum physics. This is the kind of gritty popular science writing that makes A Brief History of Time look like easy-peasy bedtime reading - so it really isn't going to be for everyone, but for those who can keep going through a lot of hard mental work the rewards are great too.More than anything, I wish this book had been available when I started my undergraduate course in physics. It would have been a superb primer to get the mind into the right way of thinking to deal with quantum physics. Using Feynman's least action/sum over paths with 'clocks' representing phase, the authors take us into the basics of quantum physics, effectively deriving Heisenberg's uncertainty principle from basic logic - wonderful.They go on to describe electron orbitals, the mechanics of electronic devices, quantum electrodynamics, virtual particles in a vacuum and more with the same mix of heavy technical arguments, a little maths (though nowhere near as much as a physics textbook) and a lot of Feynman-style diagrams and logic.The reason I think I would have benefited so much is that this book explains much more than an (certainly my) undergraduate course does. Not explaining why quantum physics does what it does - no one can do that. But explaining the powerful logic behind the science, laying the groundwork for the undergraduate to then be able to do the fancy maths and fling Hamiltonians around and such. It is very powerful in this respect and I would urge anyone about to start a physics degree (or in the early stages of one) to read it. I would also recommend it for someone who is just really interested in physics and is prepared to put a lot of work into reading it, probably revisiting some pages several times to get what Cox and Forshaw have in mind - because they don't ease up very often.What I can't do, though, is recommend this as general popular science. It isn't the kind of excellent introduction that gives you an understanding of what's going on in quantum theory, a view of the mysteries and a broad understanding of what the topic is about. This book is just too hard core. I'd suggest that 90% plus of popular science readers shouldn't touch it with the proverbial barge pole. If that sounds condescending, it isn't meant to be. Good popular science can and does have a lot more content and thought provoking meat than a typical Brian Cox TV show - but this book goes so much further still than that, inevitably limiting its audience.Review first published on - reproduced with permission

  • Cara
    2019-01-18 19:35

    This book commits one of the cardinal sins of pop science, which is replacing mathematics (deemed by the authors to be too difficult for the apparently mentally deficient reader) with an analogy so tortured it ends up being far more complicated than it would have been if they had just used the damn math. As math goes, wave addition is actually pretty easy, so I have no idea why the authors thought that replacing waves with clocks and adding together the clocks was simpler. How can you add together clocks? How can a clock represent probability? Why would you use a clock when wave functions are far more easy to understand? Even if you assume that the average person is familiar with clocks and not with wave functions, they could have just spent two pages explaining wave addition instead of half the book explaining clock addition and saved us all some effort.

  • Book
    2019-01-29 21:33

    The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw“The Quantum Universe" is the interesting book about the subatomic realm. Well known physicist and science celebrity Brian Cox along with fellow physicist Jeff Forshaw take us into the intimidating world of quantum mechanics. Using the latest in scientific understanding and creative analogies these scientists make complex topics accessible to the masses. This 272-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1. Something Strange Is Afoot, 2. Being in Two Places at Once, 3. What Is a Particle? 4. Everything That Can Happen Does Happen, 5. Movement as an Illusion, 6. The Music of the Atoms, 7. The Universe in a Pin-head (and Why We Don’t Fall Through the Floor), 8. Interconnected, 9. The Modern World, 10. Interaction, and 11. Empty Space Isn’t Empty.Positives:1. The ability of great scientists to communicate to the masses.2. Fascinating topic in the hands of experts. Well researched and well written.3. Finally, a book about quantum mechanics that I can comprehend and in the process I didn’t perceive it was “dumbed” down either. Most importantly, it kept my interest and I learned while doing so. Bravo!4. Great use of charts and illustrations to assist the reader. Many concepts of physics defy common logic so the choice of sound illustrations is a must in order to understand the concepts. As an example, the use of clocks to understand particles.5. Grounding what we know based on the best knowledge that science can offer. The authors do a wonderful job of explaining the scientific process and defining what a good scientific theory is all about.6. This is strictly a science book. The authors are focused on quantum mechanics, not on the supernatural. In fact, the term "God" or "Creator" was never articulated!7. Effective use of math, math is vital in understanding physics but the authors know their target audience well and provide the math necessary to enhance the level of comprehension. The authors don’t make the mistake of other books that bombard readers with esoteric equations and don’t follow up with a comprehensive narration. 8. Great explanation of why the laws of quantum theory replace Newton’s laws.9. The authors seamlessly capture discoveries and their discoverers throughout the book.10. The unique characteristics of the electron, and I mean unique.11. I'm in awe of science! It's truly amazing how a basic understanding of quantum theory can lead one to understand the observed properties of some of the most massive objects in the universe.12. The great Richard Feynman and his contributions to quantum mechanics...the understanding of subatomic particles. "Feynman is a second Dirac, only this time human". A giant of the subatomic world.13. Understanding that being counterintuitive (moving away from common experience) is common in quantum mechanics. In other words, embrace your weirdness.14. Fascinating tidbits throughout such as it was often claimed that the youth of the scientists allowed them to free themselves of old ways of thinking and thus be able to understand the world of quantum theory. Of course there are exceptions...Schrodinger.15. The probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics...the loss of predictive power, even Einstein was bothered with it.16. The least action principle...a cornerstone of physics.17. The Heisenberg's Uncertainty's amazing how being annoyed by the attention that Schrodinger received would drive a great scientist to his own version of quantum theory. We are talking about great scientists, not reality-TV stars. Goes to show that even scientists are humans too.18. The brief history of Planck's constant. He was able to explain the black body spectrum...the rest is well, history.19. The fascinating result of how to describe a moving particle. The de Broglie equation and how it works and wave packets. 20. The vastness inside an atom and what exactly is going on inside there. If you like guitars or drums this section is for you. The term quantized is music to my ears.21. The work of physicist Wolfgang Pauli and why we don't fall through the floor. The Pauli Exclusion Principle. Great stuff.22. The book does touch up on cosmology and you know that is always fun.23. The periodic table an interesting narrative.24. Atomic clusters...chemical bonding, semiconductors.25. An appreciation for one of the most important inventions ever, the transistor. Thank you quantum theory.26. Profound thoughts and concepts: "Every electron in the Universe knows about the state of every other electron". And that goes for protons and neutrons too. 27. Understanding the utility of semiconductor materials. Who knew physics was so much fun?28. The nature of interaction between particles. Quantum field theory and its rules.29. Quantum electrodynamics (QED), the theory that explains how particles interact with each other and photons. Once again than you Mr. Feynman and Schwinger and company.30. Anti-matter or an electron travelling backwards in time. Remember, embrace your weirdness. Oh and it does get weird.31. A survey of The Standard Model of particle physics. Come on Large Hadron Collider (LHC)...32. A list of all the known particles and if we are lucky with the aforementioned LHC certainly more will be added to the list.33. How modern physics aim to provide an answer to "what is the origin of mass?" The key...the Higgs boson, come on LHC. Branching rules.34. An interesting Epilogue on the death of Stars. Fascinating stuff, applied science at its best. Negatives:1. Quantum mechanics is complicated there is no ifs and buts about it. Even at the most accessible level some concepts will not be comprehended. Many concepts of physics defy common logic and so some patience is needed to go over some of the topics. 2. The metric system is used so those of us who are a product of the American system will suffer a minor discomfort. The truth is we should have embraced the metric system but that is a tale for another day.3. No links to speak of other than to diagrams.4. Further reading section would have been enhanced with a complete bibliography.In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The authors made comprehending such complex topics fun which is an accomplishment in its own right. The introductory knowledge that I have obtained by this book helps me gain a better understanding of our world. My love of knowledge is rewarded by great books like The Quantum Universe”. We know so little about world but every little bit of knowledge that we do obtain through the endeavors of science just gives me a sense of awe that no other human experience can match. The quest for knowledge is the most fulfilling journey any human can take. Do yourself a favor and don’t hesitate to get the “The Quantum Universe”.Further suggestions: "A Universe from Nothing" by Lawrence M. Krauss, "About Time" by Adam Frank, "Death from the Skies" by Philip Plait, "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking, and "The Age of Everything" by Mathew Hedman.

  • Mark Hebwood
    2019-01-22 00:40

    I am, frankly, unsure how much of quantum physics can be conveyed meaningfully without a mathematical description of the subject. Brian and Jeff did a heroic job in keeping maths out of the discussion, and for the most part I think they still managed to deliver interesting insights into the nature of quantum physics. For example, the idea to replace complex numbers with clocks is actually quite clever, although I agree with most reviewers on this site that this device failed to make things easier to grasp.Also, I am not sure the clock-idea is entirely original. The authors clearly start off following an approach to quantum physics inspired by Feynman path integrals (at least that is what I thought lay buried beneath the metaphor of carrying clocks through the universe) and Feynman himself uses stopwatches to aid understanding in his own account on QED. But they do not seem to be touching on a lot of modern stuff - I am not knowledgeable enough to know for sure, but it seemed to me that Brian and Jeff put forward a reasonably dated view of the subject. I believe QED was basically formulated in the 40s, and (unless I missed it) there was nothing specific about quantum entanglement, non-locality, or QCD in the book. And although the authors seem to be embracing Feynman's path integrals, they later go back to wave functions to capture the dynamics. Finally, the title of the book suggests that Brin & Jeff favour Hugh Everett's many-world interpretation over the Copenhagen interpretation - I am not sure how that fits with Feynman's approach. So I ended up being a bit confused. The metaphors frustrated me, and I was not sure I understood where the authors stood 'philosophically' in their interpretation of the quantum world.In the end, though, I would still recommend this to those who are not yet frustrated by qualitative explanations of this complicated and anti-intuitive subject.

  • Jakub
    2019-02-08 22:27

    Simply put, I cannot really comment on this book. I didn't get most of it, but I couldn't tell you if this was more my problem, or the book's problem. Historically, I have been terrible with math. This book has just enough of it to leave me feeling lost more than 50% of the time. Even when I thought I understood something, that understanding was extremely tentative. I have this sneaking suspicion that in trying to make a quantum physics book that is accessible to a layperson, while still including some mathematics (algebra, trigonometry, etc), they have written a book that is actually accessible to almost no one - too dumbed down for the math and physics types, and too much maths for the math-phobic types. But, once again, I cannot say this with a higher degree of certainty. It might have just been me.

  • Jim
    2019-01-17 16:31

    So what was the tipping point that caused me to read a popular book on Quantum Physics (QP) after years of successfully avoiding the topic ? It was running into this Webpost on Quantum Computing and it's video .This is less of a review and more of my idea and notes holding areas found on Quantum Physics. Sources material includes this book , Quantum Physics For Poets and others I may read over time. Also some video and web resources ( Nova Special recommended! : ) . A goal of mine is to determine what exactly are some of the identified weird qualities found in Quantum Physics and how we have learned about them. Enough so I can be conversational with some one knowledgeable on the topic. ____________________________________________________Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics has not profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” – Niels BohrWeirdness * a particle can be in multiple places at once* a particle moves from one place to another by exploring the entire universe simultaneously ?! (Feynman's work ?) * light behaves both as a wave and a particle (from double slit experiment)- Duality Uncertainty and Measurement * It is simply impossible to determine with certainty when an atom will decay* quantum theory deals with probabilities rather that certainties (it is not deterministic )* we can not predict what photon would go through a window and which will bounce back as reflection* Heisenberg's uncertainty principle- the more we know about a particles location the less we know about it's momentum . (it's impossible to know both at the same time) * the act of measurement introduces a disturbance (further double slit experiments) * when observation device is on it acts like a particle in the double slit when off it acts like a wave.As if it doesn't want to be observed going through each slit at once * A particle may appear anywhere in the universe (?! unsure why we think this) * scientists proved that photons' behaviour is indeed not decided until they are measured. Entanglement * Quantum entanglement occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently—instead, a quantum state may be given for the system as a whole.* this entangled action appears to be faster than the Speed of light. * This quantum entanglement was labeled 'Spooky Action at a Distance' by Einstein ( see this source ) * Einstein arguement about QP weirdness was best capture by his statement. God does not throw dice .. to which Bohr once stated that Einstein should stop telling God what he cannot do. * Bohr felt that entangled particles could be separated by galaxies.* normally the electons in entangled pair spin in opposite directions -down vs up.* A paradox pointed out in Al-khalili book- entangled pairs are forever entangled until they are observed. Teleportation * we teleport the quantum state of a particle t a far distant particle (not the original itself which is destroyed) * teleporation was thought of due to the "no cloning therom " of wooster and Zurek where the quantum state can not be copied to another while the original particle state remain the same. Quantum Tunneling and other weird movement * Quantum tunnelling is where a particle tunnels through a barrier that it classically could not surmount. (?!)*scanning tunneling microscopes are an example.* quantum leap -an abrupt transition of an electron, atom, or molecule from one quantum state to another, with the absorption or emission of a quantum. (as in switching electron levels in an atom) Time Traveltime travel and separation of characteristics : QP Weirdness* atoms can't have the same energy level (not sure if this is a correct interpetation, implies a communication across all space ?????) * many worlds theorum-there is a belief that all possiblities occur in different dimensions.* there is an example of quantum going back in time. (? need to comprehend this) * The Aharonov–Bohm effect - a nonlocal effect similar to entanglement. in a magnetic field confined to the inside of a cylinder. electrons on the outside can be impacted by this field although logically they shouldn't. * Superposition- being in a number of states at the same time.....being in two places at once.* All Higgs particle is believe to come from the big bang. **** although many of QP seem unreal the results have been applicable in practice. _________________________* different atoms emit unique spectrums of light when heated (the basis of spectrometry ) Bohr felt this was due to electrons changing orbits.* Plancks constant is the conversion factor between the wavelength of light and the energy of it's associate quanta. ( all speaks to photons as particles) *Bells Theorum- (in simplest form ) a thought experiment which lead to an actual expiriment. No physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. Disproving EPR Theorems.* John Bell- set an experimental conclusion that would prove either Quantum Physics or EPR to be correct. This experiment was performed after Bells death by Clauser (clauser, hrrne and Shimony).Clauser said that Richard Feynman threw him out of his office when he said he was going to work on this problem.*by proving , Hidden variables are impossible within the framework of proved quantum mechanics . Einstein school proved * Pauli Exclusion theorem- No two electrons can be put into the exact same quantum state of motion at the same time * Particle- broad definition- something at a point that has mass.* White Dwarfs can only grow so large and then they will implode. This theoretical result appears to be born out observation: no white dwarfs bigger than the theoretical maximum. * Dirac Sea- the vacuum of space is completely filled with Electrons, occupying all the negative energy states --Dirac work correctly predicted the existence of antimatter- * We use antimatter currently- PET Scanner creates antimatter - this antimatter particle the opposite of the electron is the positron. *there is such a thing as triple entanglement. * entangled particles with a beam splitter. * Ginsin did an experiment with a 1Ok fiber optic run that showed information would have to travel at 10 milion times the speed of light if it were not truly " spooky action at a distance" * Ginsin work may have practical applications in quantum encryption*particle interferometers- can direct particles down different paths and observe them . some weirdness observed in experiments.

  • Roger
    2019-02-14 23:39

    As I had studied quantum mechanics at university in the late 1960s as part of my chemistry degree I had a good idea what to expect from this book but, nevertheless, I found much of it very confusing. In particular, the use of the clocks, and the rules for the winding thereof, didn't help. These were supposedly introduced to avoid the use of complex mathematics but personally I would have done better struggling with the maths than trying to visualise these pesky clocks.It also seemed to me that few of the chapters summarised what had been said or drew any conclusions to pull together what had been discussed. I think that with a subject like this there needs to be some pauses to pull together the story so far to make sure that the audience is still on board. (Although who that intended audience is, I can't be sure.)I'm writing this review a couple of months after finishing the book and, to be honest, I can remember little of the book over and above what I already knew before I read it. Overall, I was expecting better than this from Brian Cox, given his renowned reputation as a television science communicator, so I wonder if having two authors isn't the root of the problem. Perhaps either author working alone would have done better than the two acting together. As it is, I've been put off reading anything else written by either of them!

  • Naomi
    2019-01-19 20:26

    This was an incredibly fascinating yet baffling book. I am quite ashamed to admit that I was confused by Chapter 3! The concept of tiny clocks as a method of understanding quantum waves was so abstract and unusual that I frequently had to remind myself what the clocks were actually representing. Nevertheless, I was perpetually amazed and astonished by the insights into the quantum world that this book elucidated, and I thoroughly enjoyed being forced out of my comfort zone, and having my perspectives challenged continuously. By the end of the book, I was mentally exhausted (and physically exhausted from concentrating so hard!) yet I learnt a lot of new concepts and I have become more open to new ideas and abstract ways of thinking.The authors were brilliant. One of the best things about this book was how the authors fused humour and science so that the novel was not like reading a dull, monotonous textbook, but more like talking to a knowledgeable, comprehensible friend. This increased my understanding of certain concepts and held my attention avidly.Lastly, I absolutely loved the epilogue; it brought together all the ideas learnt throughout the book to demonstrate how these quantum theories can contribute to the understanding of the universe. That, to me, is why science is so wonderful and beautiful.

  • Tim
    2019-01-25 22:23

    Probably the most annoying thing about this book is that it claims you don't need the maths to understand it, then proceeds to fill every page with maths. After one long equation filled section it rubs your face in it by saying, basically, that you needn't have bothered.With quantum physics relying so much on maths to be explained, it seems rather glib to claim you don't need to understand it, but then again how could they have sold this as a pop-science book if you needed a degree in maths to read it? I guess you'd also be left with a very thin book on quantum physics if you didn't pad it out with equations.This book seems aimless: Too complicated for the typical pop-science fans of Brian Cox, too lightweight for the kind of people who actually need to understand quantum physics.

  • Tim
    2019-02-10 16:26

    An excellent and accessible overview of how quantum mechanics actually works. Yes, there's some math in here, but you can't really explain quantum mechanics without probability.Now I know how to respond to all the Deepak Chopra wanna-bes and fans of "What the Bleep Do We Know" who think there's something mystical in their misunderstanding of quantum mechanics. And I understand what the Higgs Boson is!

  • Benjamin
    2019-02-06 16:36

    A good in-depth (for the average non-physicist) look at some commonly misunderstand aspects of quantum theory. This book can take you from zero understanding to a relatively comprehensive understanding in under 300 pages. It delivers that which it promises, nothing more, nothing less. Worth a read.

  • Mirek Kukla
    2019-01-20 23:33

    Overview"The Quantum Universe" is an approachable book that attempts to explain the mathematical ideas underpinning modern quantum theory. In this regard, it is quite different than most other books of its kind. Take Brian Greene's brilliant "The Fabric of the Cosmos," for instance: whereas Greene attempts to provide intuitive descriptions of quantum phenomena, Cox and Forshaw attempt to provide intuition for the mathematics of quantum theory. In other words, whereas most pop modern physics books strive to explain how the quantum world behaves, "The Quantum Universe" is more concerned with explaining the mathematical formalisms we use to describe quantum behavior.Complex ideas are explained by analogyIf this sounds a bit intimidating, don't worry: there's very little math to be had. As in every good science book for the masses, the authors explain by way of analogy. You're invited to think of "quantum interference" as water waves canceling each other out; of "propagating probability waves" as a set of clocks moving through space; and of logic gates in semiconducters as simple hydraulic valves. For the most part, the analogies are enlightening, and they make a lot of intuitive sense.That said, this book IS a lot more technical than most of its compatriots. If you've never picked up (and read through!) a popular presentation of modern physics, this probably isn't the place to start. The quantum world is a strange place, and you'll want to make sure you've had some exposure before you let Cox and Forshaw guide you through the particulars. On the other hand, if you've ever felt like every pop physics book tends to rehash the same analogies - and you're ready to probe a bit deeper - "The Quantum Universe" is a breath of fresh air.Short summary of contentAbout half of the book is spent explaining electron propagation. The authors do a great job of explaining deeply mathematical ideas without invoking any complex equations. Schrodinger’s wave equation is describe in terms of clocks: "numbers in the complex plane" are replaced by the "clocks," complex addition amounts to "combining clocks," and so. We're told to imagine a propagating probability wave (read: traveling electron) as the aggregate sum of a bunch of winding, traveling clocks, and to find the probability a certain electron will show up at a certain place, you learn to add up all of its clocks and take the height of the resulting hour hand. It all sounds pretty confusing and nonsensical, summarized in a paragraph like this, but the authors really do use this analogy to great effect.The rest of the book uses this simplified model of electron propagation to explain some pretty deep concepts. The highlight of the book comes when the authors effectively derive the Heisenberg uncertainty principle using nothing but said "clocks" and a clever bit of reasoning. The authors go on to explain why electrons only swirl about atomic nuclei in quantized (read: "discrete") energy levels; they introduce you to the Pauli exclusion principle, and use it to explain why we don't simply fall through the floor; and they attempt to convey the utility of quantum theory by explaining how it led to the development of semiconductors.ConclusionThe authors probe ambitious depths, and for the most part, they succeed. Unfortunately, they sometimes over-reach. Certain topics, it seems to me, simply cannot be penetrated without fully delving into some serious mathematics. Clocks can only do so much, and as a result, you often have no choice but simply take the authors’ word as they ask you to make one unmotivated leap of faith after another.Despite this occasional wand-waving, "The Quantum Universe" is a great book. Most books like it focus on describing the quantum weirdness we observe, they as such, they tend to leave you a bit bewildered. Here, Cox and Forshaw focus on explaining how it we're able to model this weirdness, and as a result, you'll leave feeling like it at least makes sense that someone out there really understands this stuff. "The Quantum Universe" appeals to your intuition without dumbing down its subject matter, and if you're willing to delve a bit deeper than usual - and you're still able to surface at the end - you'll come out with a profoundly deeper understanding of the weird, weird ways in which our world works.Quotes:"Quantum theory is perhaps the prime example of the infinitely esoteric becoming the profoundly useful" (2)"The job of quantum theory should be to predict directly observable things... it should not be expected to provide some kind of satisfying mental picture for the internal workings of the atom, because this is not necessary and it may not even be possible." (13)"We have learned that our perception that objects move smoothly from point to point is, form the perspective of quantum theory, and illusion. It is closer to the truth to suppose that particles move from A to B via all possible paths." (90)"...point-like particles are really of no size and to as 'What happens if I split an electron in half?' makes no sense at all - there is not meaning to the idea of 'half an electron'." (116)Appendix: what is a "propagating probability wave"?To begin with, let's briefly talk about "wave-particle duality." The idea here is that electrons sometimes behave like particles, and other times behave like waves - in other words, electrons are both particles and waves. Huh?The idea that electrons are particles is fairly intuitive. It’s pretty easy to imagine an electron point orbiting an atomic nucleus. In fact, it turns out that electrons look like particles whenever they're observed: that is, we never detect electron waves. We only detect electron points.On the other hand, electrons sometimes behave like waves, in that they 'interfere' with one another. If you shoot a bunch of electrons at two tiny side-by-side holes in front of an electron-sensing plate, the electrons hit the plate in a 'striped' pattern. It's as if the electrons were waves - some entering through the right hole, and others through the left - where at some places, the waves cancel out, and at others, they combine. The end result of this ' wave interference' is the observed striped pattern.But it gets even weirder that this: apparently even a single electron interferes with ITSELF. Let’s say you shoot an electron through the two holes. Once it hits the plate on the other side, you shoot another. You repeat this for a while. At the end of this one-electron-at-a-time experiment, you'll see the same stripped pattern as before. Again, here electrons were all fired in series, and yet, at the end we observe a pattern that indicates interference.To explain this so-called double-slit experiment, we assume that a single electron is actually many places - at the same time. Essentially, we assume that an electron is a PROBABILITY wave. An electron travels as a sort of "wave of possible electron locations." The wave is "highest" at locations the electron is most likely to be found. And as soon as the wave is observed, or interacts with something, the electron simply manifests itself at a SINGLE location, where the location was picked, at random, from the probability distribution.This basically means that it makes no sense to ask "what path did the electron take to arrive at the location of measurement"? In a sense, it took EVERY path touched by its probability wave, and in doing so, it "interfered with itself. "Weird? Totally. True? Almost certainly. Interesting? That’s for you to judge, but cool shit, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Hexagia
    2019-02-02 20:44

    El Universo Cuántico de Brian Cox es una obra de divulgación para usuarios que ya tienen cierto nivel base en mecánica cuántica, así como nociones sobre formulación matemática basica. Muy recomendado para usuarios que llevan tiempo dentro de la temática y estén interesados en repasar conceptos como momento, reloj o pozo de potencial. Hace especial hincapié en las escalas de ordenamiento y incluye perspectivas muy bien expuestas e interesantes acerca del Principio de exclusión de Pauli y el entrelazamiento cuántico.No es una obra de arte que te atrape como lo hace por ejemplo el Gran Diseño de Stephen Hawking, pero si una herramienta excepcional para comprender mejor los fenómenos cuánticos con ingeniosas representaciones mentales que cada vez que regresen a tu mente te recordarán la esencia de ese simpático gatete que define la portada.

  • Blair
    2019-01-24 17:36

    As in their previous book (Why Does E=mc²?), the authors are trying to address audiences with different technical backgrounds. This time, readers without a decent grounding in pre-calculus mathematics and basic physics will be lost most of the time. Even those with a science background will be lost (or confused, or disagree) at least some of the time. In common with other reviewers, I had trouble with the use of multitudes of little clocks that fill the universe to represent waves. I found myself translating them back into wave terms. I understand he is trying to avoid the differential equations that fully describe wave mechanics, but surely he could have worked with pictures of waves that interfere with each other. This makes a good half of the book more difficult to follow than it should be.I liked how he developed the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle using wave interference, despite the clocks. He did a nice job introducing us to the Standard Model using Feynman diagrams. I thought the way he describes the miracle of how fusion occurs in the sun was excellent. The final chapter uses the concepts developed in the book, including the fundamental constants, to describe how stars collapse. Although the math in that chapter is quite complex, at least it did not need those damned clocks. Now, lets talk about some of the problems.He tells us that the real statement of relativity is that information cannot exceed the speed of light? I thought relativity was about mass interacting with space-time, as he explained it in his previous book. How do you even physically represent the concept of information?The Pauli Exclusion Principle means that two particles (fermions) with the same quantum state cannot exist in the same place, because their wave functions will interfere with each other. This is why all the electrons in an atom do not crowd together in the lowest energy level, making atomic structure and chemistry possible. But since electrons follow every possible path in the universe, each one must be present in every other atom in some way. Therefore they claim that all electrons in the universe interact with each other, and must each have a slightly different energy level. This contradicts the fact that the energy levels are quantized, so they cannot be slightly different. I suspect the answer has to do with the superposition of states within an atom, and he has oversimplified the explanation.For some reason, the concept of entanglement is never mentioned, at least by name. Not only is this perhaps the most interesting implication of quantum mechanics, but entanglement and decoherence play an essential role in the so-called “measurement problem”. Instead we are told, “The approach to quantum mechanics that we have been discussing, which rejects the idea that Nature chooses a particular version of reality when someone (or something) ‘makes a measurement’, forms the basis of the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is very appealing because it is the logical consequence of taking the laws that govern the behavior of elementary particles seriously enough to use them to describe all phenomena.” The subtitle of the book is that anything that can happen does happen. Does this mean particles appear to take every possible path in the universe, or that every possible history of a universe that can happen does happen in multiple universes? Somehow replacing a superposition of coherent states in an atom with a superposition of coherent universes is supposed to be an improvement. But then this controversial idea is not mentioned again, as “these musings are not of pressing importance when it comes to the serious business of computing the probability that something will happen when we do an experiment,” appearing to endorse the “shut up and calculate” school of physics.This book is really about the math, which a few philosophical insights (like those quoted above) sprinkled in. If you want philosophy, along with robust support for the multiverse, try The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World. For some basic insight into the mathematical basis of quantum mechanics, this book may be as good as it gets, but it is not a smooth ride.

  • Judyta Szaciłło
    2019-02-02 00:32

    This is the most serious piece of literature on the subject that I have ever braved. I stopped pretending half-way through the book and skipped all the remaining descriptions of equasions ("chalk talk", as it is called throughout the text), but I appreciate that they are by no means redundant, as the book aims to demonstrate the mathematical basis of quantum physics. There is plenty of commentary in between the equasions, and it does help to gain at least a vague idea of what they show.What they show is mind-blowing. I could not bring myself to trust all the pop-science I had read before. The implications I found there seemed wondrous, but also tremendously far-fetched. But I am a big fan of Brian Cox, and I trust the guy's not giving me any nonsense. Cox and Forshaw are cautious and meticulous in what they say, and yet I read:It really is conceivable that, at some time in our future, something can happen to us which requires that, in the past, we did two mutually opposite things.The approach to quantum mechanics that we have been discussing, which rejects the idea that Nature goes about choosing a particular version of reality every time someone (or something) ‘makes a measurement’, forms the basis of what is often referred to as the ‘many worlds’ interpretation. It is very appealing because it is the logical consequence of taking the laws that govern the behaviour of elementary particles seriously enough to use them to describe all phenomena. But the implications are striking, for we are to imagine that the Universe is really a coherent superposition of all of the possible things that can happen and the world as we perceive it (with its apparently concrete reality) arises only because we are fooled into thinking that coherence is lost every time we ‘measure’ something. I am lost in the sea of possibilities. How cool is that? :-)

  • Anthony
    2019-01-27 20:45

    First, a disclaimer. I have a degree in Physics so have studied Quantum Mechanics (QM) at degree level. Therefore I didn't read this as a lay person (it's intended target audience), so YMMV.I was hoping that if anyone could make QM accessible to the layman it would be Prof. Brain Cox. Sadly, in my opinion, this isn't the case.The book starts with a brief history of the beginning of the subject (which I found interesting), but when the author starts to describe the actual theory things start to unravel. In what I assume is an attempt to reduce the amount of maths in the book, he uses a 'clock system' to try and explain the theory. To my mind trying to explain it this way made no sense - if you don't have a solid understanding of the basics of the subject then you stand no chance of understanding the harder stuff once you reach it, and to truly understand the basics you need to understand the maths.Approximately half way through the clock system is retired and maths starts to assert itself. I could almost hear the author think 'hmmm, this clock thing isn't really working, I'm going to have to start using maths'. However by then I think it's too little too late.It wasn't all bad though; I enjoyed the last chapter on the death of stars. However overall this book reinforced my opinion that it's not possible to understand QM without a suitable high level understanding of maths (despite how elitist that may sound!).

  • Jim Whitefield
    2019-02-03 18:40

    I gave this an average rating; not because the book itself was average; for those who can understand quantum physics, I am sure it is amazing. Unfortunately, I never could understand algebra and this is no average book explaining why things happen at all. Unlike other work of his I have read, which is written for the lay person, you need a degree in quantum mechanics to even begin to understand this one. I really tried but have to confess I didn't understand a word of it, despite Cox's best efforts at explaining things. There was even a TV show that aired the other evening 'A night with the stars' where Cox lectured to a group of celebs and covered some of the book. The material he covered I do understand but that is just the very basic concepts and the book tries to explain not what happens because it can, but rather why things happen - in mathematical terms that are beyond my comprehension. I already understood the second law of thermodynamics (law of entropy) well enough - but this is beyond me. No disrespect to Professor Cox. I am just not educated to that level regarding physics and unless you are, this is not for you.

  • Shayan Kh
    2019-02-10 23:39

    Not an easy introduction to QM as I thought it would be. And the concept of clocks was just baffling. I have a degree in mathematics, so I know imaginary numbers. But even with the knowledge that clocks in this book represent imaginary numbers some how, it was still hard to grasp. I can only imaging how confused readers who didn't know i must have been. Or maybe it was because I read this book with prior knowledge that I had such a hard time. In any case, it wasn't like the other book of Brian Cox I read this year, which was about relativity. I think I should stick to the academic books. They don't try to skip mathematics and if I spend a little more time familiarizing my self to the mathematics of the topic, I might develope a better understanding in the topic.

  • Matthew Tree
    2019-01-20 00:38

    Having a vague idea that there is some connection between aspects of quantum mechanics and fiction, I got hold of this book which makes a serious attempt to really explain quantum physics to people (like myself) who are mathematicaly illiterate. I found I could follow it without really understanding it, which seems, from what the authors say, to be the standard reaction of many qualified physicists. The final chapter, however, which requires a more than basic knowledge of maths, left me feeling inadequate.

  • Jenny
    2019-01-29 23:43

    It's such a shame I understood so little of this. The quantum world truly fascinates me. Still, I understand the conclusions well enough and that's what counts. I'll give this 4 stars - hell, I'll even chuck in another half - since it's not the authors' fault the math is beyond me and their well-considered simillies and analogies failed to stick. Bugger it I'll give full marks since Brian Cox is such a cutie.

  • Huda
    2019-02-03 22:17

    Well this was fun. Three things real quick:1. Not like I came out of this none the wiser, but I'm not exactly Carl Sagan now. 2. I'm down with the approach the authors used to explore quantum physics, but really the clock ansatz did not work for me at all. 3. Will probably hunt for more 'elementary' books next time, if that's possible.

  • Fiona Robson
    2019-02-04 21:38

    Thouroughly enjoyed this book, although I can't pretend that I understood it ALL. It took me ages to read, because I kept on having to go back to read equations and explanations several times. I especially loved the way the authors took the mick out of hippies who erroneously used Quantum Theory to explain paranormal/spiritual experiences! A very good read, and entertaining, too.

  • Jenna DeFrei
    2019-01-25 23:22

    By far NOT my favourite book on quantum physics. I found the authors difficult to follow much of the time, partially because I don't have the maths ability needed for this book. That said, I also found the writers rather boring, sadly. Usually I find this topic very exciting to read.... not this book. I found this book quite tedious and had to force myself to continue reading through the end.

  • Lewiscolony
    2019-02-07 21:20

    Very challenging and I confess I did not manage to understand fully all the mathematical (or even conceptual) arguments. However the book had an approach that was new to me, and did sort of make sense (as much as quantum physics ever 'makes sense'!). I enjoyed it.

  • Adam Saeed
    2019-01-23 16:16

    Unlocks the mysteries of the Universe. Deftly written by two of the greatest thinkers of our time.

  • Anna
    2019-01-29 20:19

    Fuckin' clocks, Brian.

  • Carina
    2019-02-12 23:36

    not even sure what I just read :/