When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11: Or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal

Philip Moriarty. BenBella, $17.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-944648-52-7
Though Moriarty, a University of Nottingham physics professor, does manage to entertainingly relay some scientific concepts here, it is more in spite of than because of his references to heavy metal. Anyone who doesn’t already know where Master of Puppets fits into Metallica’s oeuvre, or what the F#7 add 11 chord contributes to Rush’s musicianship, may be a bit lost. The math-allergic, meanwhile, will be daunted by Moriarty’s reliance on formulae, graphs, and other mathematical tools, including numerous uses of Fourier analysis and transformation, “a way of taking a complex mathematical function and breaking it into simpler functions.” Those who persevere will discover a winning sense of humor and even snark—at one point Moriarty debunks purveyors of “quantum woo,” such as Deepak Chopra, who suggest that quantum effects occurring at an atomic and subatomic level apply to the macroscopic human-scale world. He also makes points that may be new to lay readers interested in quantum physics, chief among them that “the observer effect is distinct from Heisenberg’s famous [uncertainty] principle,” something about which Heisenberg himself was mistaken. Confirmed heavy metal fans and determined heavy metal neophytes will learn something new and have a good time doing so, while others will be left in the quantum fog. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-944648-53-4
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