The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does)

Brian Cox, Author, Jeff Forshaw, Author
Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. Da Capo, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-306-81964-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-61174-586-3
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-0-306-82144-8
Hardcover - 255 pages - 978-1-84614-432-5
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-1-84614-636-7
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In their newest, the University of Manchester physics team that produced Why Does E=mc2? aims to make quantum theory—"perhaps the prime example of the infinitely esoteric becoming the profoundly useful"—understandable for a general audience, explaining not only what it is and how it works, but why it is important. Beginning with a brief scientific history that will be familiar to anyone who's completed college physics (but accessible to those who have not), Cox and Forshaw review Newton's laws and the discoveries of Becquerel, Rutherford, Bohr, and Heisenberg before turning to their explanation of particles and waves, as inspired by Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winner described by his friend Freeman Dyson as simultaneously "all genius, all buffoon." The authors also go on to explain the origin of the periodic table, strong and weak nuclear forces, "Why We Don't Fall Through the Floor," and myriad other interesting topics. Though Cox and Forshaw state that their goal is to "demystify quantum theory," readers will nevertheless be confronted with plenty of equations and graphs rather than anecdotes and photos. Illus. (Feb.)
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