How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

by Chad Orzel
3.9 30

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Overview

How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog by Chad Orzel

When physics professor Chad Orzel went to the pound to adopt a dog, he never imagined Emmy. She wasn't just a friendly mutt who needed a home; she was a talking dog with an active interest in what her new owner did for a living and how it could work for her.

Soon Emmy was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chasing critters, getting treats, and going for walks. She peppered Chad with questions: Could she use quantum tunneling to get through the neighbor's fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? Where are all the universes in which Chad drops steak on the floor? And what about the bunnies made of cheese that ought to be appearing out of nothing in the backyard?

With great humor and clarity, Chad Orzel explains to Emmy, and to human readers, just what quantum mechanics is and how it works -- and why, although you can't use it to catch squirrels or eat steak, it's still bizarre, amazing, and important to every dog and human.

Follow along as Chad and Emmy discuss the central elements of quantum theory, from particles that behave like waves and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to entanglement ("spooky action at a distance") and virtual particles. Along the way, they discuss the history of the theory, such as the experiments that discovered that electrons are waves and particles at the same time, and Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr's decades-long debate over what quantum theory really meant (Einstein may have been smarter, but Bohr was right more often).

Don't get caught looking less informed than Emmy. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog will show you the universe that lies beneath everyday reality, in all its randomness, uncertainty, and wonder.

"Forget Schrödinger's Cat," says Emmy, "quantum physics is all about dogs." And once you see quantum physics explained to a dog, you'll never see the world the same way again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416579014
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 12/22/2009
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 415,559
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Chad Orzel was born and raised in central New York, and received a degree in physics from Williams College, and his Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Maryland. He is now a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He lives near campus with his wife Kate, their daughter, and, of course, Emmy, the Queen of Niskayuna.

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How to Teach Physics to Your Dog 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Non mathematical treatments of quantum mechanics are exceedingly difficult to to well. Most talk about the subject in vague ways that, unfortunately, misrepresent some of its concepts and nearly all make it difficult to create a mental framework of how individual aspects fit together and lead from one concept to another. Wonderfully, this book does not. The choice of key concepts to present and their order of presentation are superb. The first chapter sets the background with a good presentation of the particle-wave duality. This is important as it is key to understanding of later phenomena and why the theory emerges in the way it does. The order of topics provides needed stepping stones to grasp the theory. Special credit should be given for the list of "Central Principles of Quantum Mechanics." Listing them and presenting them in detail provides the groundwork for later topics, what's important about those topics and where and how do they fit together. The author has unusally good (and lucid) presentations on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Schrodinger's 'Dog', interpretations of quantum mechanics, entanglement and teleportation. His grounding key concepts and conclusions by presenting empirical evidence from key experiments provides anchors for understanding the subject. I applaud the chapter on misuses of quantum mechanics. Now, about this dog business ... the author's approach of teaching his dog, Emmy, is both astute and excellently done. This device is charming and disarming in that it takes the edge off the weight of the intellectual content while introducing some breathing room in the presentation. It allows the author to pose (and answer) natural questions that arise from the material and to restate explanations and insights in a natural way that doesn't make the reader feel inundated. The author, like a good author should, presents a well done glossary of terms and concepts. There is a very good further reading list. The understanding of these books will be greatly facilitated by reading the author's book first.
mrm93 More than 1 year ago
I just graduated from high school, and am going to college next year to double major in mathematics and physics. Lately, I have been debating on dropping my physics major, because I haven't been able to identify a modern use for physics that I would actually be able to do work with in a career. This book, however, told me something extremely different. Not only did it broaden my knowledge of physics, it showed me all the practical uses for quantum physics. I now know that I want to major in physics, without a doubt. I am not going to deny it; I felt extremely nerdy for reading this book over my summer vacation, but I couldn't put the thing down. I think I was practically drooling over the physics in it, and I definitely want to do more reading on the subject. The conversations with Emmy, Chad Orzel's dog, were all charming and really helped the book in making the difficult concepts understandable. I loved all of the "critter" references and I liked that microscopic ideas were turned into macroscopic examples. I would highly suggest this book for anyone who is remotely interested in physics. I will be reading it again very soon!
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
There is perhaps no area of Physics that has garnered as much fascination as quantum mechanics, save perhaps the theory of relativity. Yet in a sense the weirdness associated with quantum mechanics is even more profound than that associated with relativity. Relativity deals with physics of very fast objects, and even though it challenges our normal way of thinking, it still preserves some of the basic intuitions of what does it mean to be a physical object, how we measure properties of those objects, and what those objects can and cannot do. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, puts all those basic notion to a test. We are forced to reconsider even our basic understanding of what reality is. There have been many popular accounts of Quantum Mechanics over the years, and this book is yet another attempt of bringing this arcane field to the general readership. So despite what the title may say, this is not a book about Physics in general, but just about quantum mechanics. The dog from the title is author's German shepherd, and she is used as a stand-in for all the naïve, "Newtonian" ways of thinking about the world. Each chapter in the book covers a different aspect of quantum theory, and all the discussions are motivated in a light-hearted way by author's "dialogues" with his dog. These "dialogues" are meant to provide some comic relief from the otherwise technical subject matter. As such they work fine, although I am not the biggest fan of author's attempts at humor. The explanations provided in the book are actually very good - they are very well written, accessible to the general audience, and absolutely conceptually correct. This last point should not be taken for granted, as I have seen many attempts at making Physics accessible to the general audience that don't actually do justice to the actual Physics. One thing that I in particular like about this book is that it mentions several more recent experiments that have shed important light at the foundational aspects of quantum mechanics. In that respect this popular treatment is as up-to-date as they come. As a college Physics professor myself, I appreciate all the effort that the author has put into making this material accessible. As far as introductory, non-technical books on quantum mechanics go, this one clearly hits its targeted audience.
MikeA15 More than 1 year ago
I'll keep this brief. I've been reading physics/astrophysics, quantum theory books and the like for a few years now and this one was truly a fresh approach. I would suggest than anyone interested in learning more about quantum theory read this book, as it comes at you in a way that is playful yet in-depth. I would tell anyone to sample the book in the very least however I am very happy to have it in my collection.
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I have read severl books on advanced physic. THIS IS THE BEST I HAVE READ.
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huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
I liked How to Teach Physics to Your Dog because I love dogs and I learned much information about physics. Chad Orzel explains physics in such a way that general readers can understand it and he makes physics entertaining. I loved the chapter about Schrodinger's Dog. This chapter is a take off of Schrodinger's Cat, which is a classic physics thought experiment. I also liked leaning that Schrodinger thought up this experiment while on a ski holiday with many women. He was married. This proves that scientists are sexual beings too. It was interesting to learn why Ozel belives that dogs can understand physics easier than humans. This book gave me an appreciation of physics that I didn't have before reading this book. I highly recommend that both humans and dogs read this book.
ww42 More than 1 year ago
This is really a great book, it provides easy to understand descriptions of the various and peculiar ways the phenomenal world manifests at the level of particle physics. Although I was attracted to the book by its funny name, I found the aside dialogs with his dog a little unnecessary and even distracting (maybe condescending). I recommend the book to those wanting to appreciate quantum physics without the somewhat brain-twisting approach often provided many authors. Mr. Orzel demonstrates a significant amount of empathy with those who wish to understand but lack formal training, but he should keep his great love for his dog to himself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago