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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 31 July 2014

"How to teach Quantum Physics to your dog" by Chad Orzel

A research scientist explains the basic principles of quantum physics to Emmy, a dog more concerned with chasing bunnies and evil squirrels.

I did some physics for my degree (which was before some of the stuff in this book was discovered) and I have taught A-level Physics for many years so I understand some of the basic principles. Nevertheless, Orzel gave me a better understanding of the Uncertainty Principle (certainly better than Michael Frayn's who confuses Uncertainty and Chaos Theory in his book The Human Touch) and its necessary consequences: zero-point energy, quantum tunnelling and virtual particles. He also writes very clearly about the difference between the Copenhagen and the Many-Worlds interpretations of the Schroedinger's Cat problem. I'm not sure I was convinced by the Quantum Zeno effect; I'm not sure I understood it properly. I might have to read through this section again. I certainly failed to understand how Bell's Theorem proves that Quantum Theory is a non-local model and how that in turn leads to quantum teleportation; I vaguely understood that quantum teleportation transmits states not particles but I got completely lost as to what this meant.

So I basically got the stuff I understood a bit before and failed to properly grasp the stuff that was new to me. That means that this is not the best explained Physics book I have ever read although, to be fair, it must be the most ambitious. It's like one of those Olympic dives where you have to assess both degree of difficulty and success in carrying out the dive. I guess this means it gets high but not perfect marks.

The dog? The dog helps in the way that ad breaks help in difficult documentaries. The dog gave my brain a chance to make a cup of mental tea and rest a while before coming back to full exertions. Lots of ads are funnier though.

July 2014; 265 pages

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