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The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World
     

The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World

4.1 8
by James Kakalios
 

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A highly entertaining exploration of the complicated science of quantum mechanics made easy to understand by way of pop culture.

As a young science fiction fan, physicist James Kakalios marveled at the future predicted in the pulp magazines, comics, and films of the '50s and '60s. By 2010, he was sure we'd have flying cars and jetpacks. But what we ended up

Overview

A highly entertaining exploration of the complicated science of quantum mechanics made easy to understand by way of pop culture.

As a young science fiction fan, physicist James Kakalios marveled at the future predicted in the pulp magazines, comics, and films of the '50s and '60s. By 2010, he was sure we'd have flying cars and jetpacks. But what we ended up with-laptop computers, MRI machines, Blu-ray players, and dozens of other real-life marvels-are even more fantastic. In The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, he explains why the development of quantum mechanics enabled our amazing present day.

In his trademark style, Kakalios uses pop culture examples- everything from the graphic novel Watchmen to schlock horror movies of the '50s-to elucidate some of the most complex science there is. And he brings to life the groundbreaking scientists whose discoveries made our present life possible. Along the way, he dispels the misconception that quantum mechanics is unknowable by mere mortals. It's not magic; it's science!

Editorial Reviews

During the Eisenhower years, young boys and girls scanned Popular Science and pulp magazines for futuristic drawings of flying cars, jetpacks, and public transportation submarines. None of those dreams has materialized in the ways we imagined, but we have experienced technological advances even more startling and significant. Few of us, however, know that these great breakthroughs can be traced back to quantum mechanics, German physicist Max Planck's unsupported postulate about the nature of light. James Kakalios's The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics unravels the story of the proliferating effects of this single idea—and most amazingly, he does it without mathematical equations. (Hand-selling tip: One of the most popular courses at the University of Minnesota is Dr. Kakalios' "Everything I Needed to Know about Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books.")

Kirkus Reviews

A cheerful and mostly successful effort to explain the notoriously difficult field of quantum mechanics.

Kakalios (Physics and Astronomy/Univ. of Minnesota; The Physics of Superheroes, 2007), who served as the science consultant for the film version of Watchmen, loves pulp science fiction and comics but admits that their predictions flopped. By 2000, they promised flying cars, jetpacks, routine interplanetary travel and domed underwater cities. They had forecast a revolution in energy which didn't happen, paying less attention to the revolution in information that gave us personal computers, the Internet, smart phones, MRIs and instant international communication. Central to this revolution was quantum mechanics, a weird but critically important field. In the ultra-tiny quantum world, light travels as a wave or as a particle depending on the experiment. Protons and neutrons are infinitely small points, yet they "spin." The image of the atom many of us learned in high school—a tiny solar system with electrons circling a nucleus—is wrong. Reasonable things are impossible (you can never locate a subatomic particle precisely), but the impossible happens routinely (particles can teleport past impenetrable barriers).Readers will rarely chuckle at the author's numerous jokes, and they may roll their eyes at examples featuring superhuman characters from pulp magazines. Despite the title, the book is not math-free, although it rarely goes beyond high-school algebra. However, readers should not expect an easy ride. Quantum mechanics remains a complex field, but one as essential to a good education as, say, knowledge of Shakespeare or the Constitution.

A quirky but sensible explanation of quantum mechanics that avoids the oversimplification of TV science documentaries.

From the Publisher
"A quirky but sensible explanation of quantum mechanics." ---Kirkus
Library Journal
Kakalios, physics professor and science consultant for Hollywood, uses examples from graphic novels to enliven this introduction to quantum mechanics. (Prepub Alert, 10/1/09)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592404797
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
10/14/2010
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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From the Publisher
"A quirky but sensible explanation of quantum mechanics." —-Kirkus

Meet the Author

James Kakalios is a professor of physics at the University of Minnesota and the author of The Physics of Superheroes, which was named one of the best science books of 2005 by Discover magazine.

A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot's career spans four decades, and his voice can be heard on television, radio, video games, and documentaries. He has been nominated for an Audie Award and has received a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards and starred reviews.

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The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a mechanical engineering student whose taken quantum physics. In the class I constantly got lost in the calculations even though I thought that the material was really interesting. I bought this book shortly after it came out. This book does a good job of exploring the history behind quantum mechanics while not boring you to death. It then segways into how quantum mechanics is being applied today and possibly in the future. His analogies were easy to understand and 40+ pictures and diagrams helped a lot. I am currently taking a material science class, and this book helped explain in better terms how a p-n semiconductor works. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how things work, but don't really care how to calculate it. The one thing that I didn't like about the book was when he went off on tangents like global warming and creationism vs. evolution. Those usually came out of no where, lasted a page or two, and then he got back on track. I didn't come here for his opinions on those topics, and they frosted my cookies enough to state my annoyance here. I'd still read it again though. And when he talks about the reduced Planck's constant, the NOOKbook version had a problem displaying h; this lowercase italicized h with a bar though the tall part. Instead it displayed a question mark. Not a big deal but understandable because it isn't really a letter used in everyday language, sort of annoying though.
rafaalcalde1 More than 1 year ago
A very complex subject explained in terms most understand
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