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Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

John Polkinghorne

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John Polkinghorne has brought to life that most mysterious and perplexing of revolutions in understanding and has made its mysteries accessible. Peter Atkins, University of Oxford John Polkinghorne has produced an excellent piece of work. ... Many authors of "popular" books on modern physics have the regrettable habit of mixing science fact with science fiction. Polkinghorne never does that: he always allows the truth to stand by itself and show its own fascination. ... I think that this is an excellent contribution to the literature on quantum theory for a general audience. Chris Isham, Imperial College, London This splendid book explains both the triumph and the mystery that is quantum theory. It is a triumph because of its towering mathematical structure, and amazing empirical accuracy. It is a mystery because of the conundrums about how to interpret it. John Polkinghorne, himself a distinguished quantum physicist, is a sure guide to all of this: he celebrates the successes of the theory, and shows unfailingly good judgement about the conundrums. Jeremy Butterfield, University of Oxford


Quantum Theory is the most revolutionary discovery in physics since Newton. This book gives a lucid, exciting, and accessible account of the surprising and counterintuitive ideas that shape our understanding of the sub-atomic world. It does not disguise the problems of interpretation that still remain unsettled 75 years after the initial discoveries. The main text makes no use of equations, but there is a Mathematical Appendix for those desiring stronger fare. Uncertainty,
probabilistic physics, complementarity, the problematic character of measurement, and decoherence are among the many topics discussed.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 470 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 132 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0192802526
  • Verlag: Oxford Paperbacks; Auflage: 1st (30. Mai 2002)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003CGNQ50
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Erweiterte Schriftfunktion: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #180.389 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  48 Rezensionen
118 von 128 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen As best as can be expected, I guess 13. Dezember 2002
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
This book does its best, but in the end suffers from something that I think is inherent in the material itself. I did learn a little more about quantum theory from this book, but not much more than I already knew to begin with. And this book didn't really make many of the main concepts any clearer. I don't think is the author's fault, I think it's almost impossible to try to explain these things. Most of the problem, (and similar statements go for cosmology, cryptography, etc.) is that it's almost impossible to explain concepts whose fundamental expression is mathematical language without using mathematics. What inevitably results is some kind of vague, touchy-feely idea of what's meant, but little understanding. And I say this as a mathematician.
To give just one example, at one point in the book, the author talks about "probability amplitudes", for several pages. The only problem is, he never says what this term is supposed to mean, but he does mention that complex numbers are involved, and other facts. The result after this happens several times is that the reader starts to read entire paragraphs consisting of terminology that's never been defined clearly. The word "operator" is the best example here. It's fine to talk ABOUT operators in indirect, oblique language, but really you don't have a true understanding of what that word means unless you know its precise mathematical definition, or unless you have a clear understanding of the notion of vector space (axiomatically, not "stuff you can add together"). I didn't have this kind of problem with most of the mathematical terminology, because I know it, but the problem comes with the physics -- the physics concepts are essentially mathematical, and trying to explain them without using mathematics is like trying to understand Shakespeare without being able to read English -- you can always give a vague, hazy account, but not much more.
The book is well-written (aside from an overly-biased presentation of the philosophical aspects), but I think it tries to have its cake and eat it too. It says it's free of mathematics, but this isn't really the case. The whole text is fully of talk about operators, vectors, vector spaces, equations, probability theory, and so on. It's the _symbolism_, not the math, that's missing (except for the appendix, which thoroughly confused me, mainly because terms were introduced without precise definition, and the notation was the physicist's notation, not mathematician's notation...)
This book was confusing to me, but the reason was because it had too LITTLE math, not too much.
34 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen This is NOT "Quantum Theory for Dummies"--but it's good. 7. Januar 2008
Von Mike Smith - Veröffentlicht auf
This pocket-sized, 92-page text--113 pages with appendices and index--professes to be a "very short introduction" to an understanding of quantum theory, to the unseen world that's so many millions of times smaller than even atoms.

It's not at all a bad summary of the field of quantum mechanics, written fairly lucidly, concisely, and with interest, but I'd have to say it's lacking as an introduction to the subject, in that it really does assume its readers are intelligent people with something of a science background. Do not buy this expecting it to be QUANTUM THEORY FOR DUMMIES, because it's still fairly dense and heavy, and not written as clearly or as startlingly as much of Stephen Hawking's stuff. To some readers, this assumption of their intelligence may be refreshing, and it is to a degree, but with a subject as complex and bizarre as quantum mechanics, most non-scientists will need as much help as they can get, help not necessarily to be found in here.

I do have to say, though, that this is a book worth reading, and, then, re-reading. After I read it, I went back through and looked up a few of the more major concepts--quantum entanglement, in which two particles that interact will continue to affect each other no matter how far apart they're separated; Schrödinger's Cat and the idea of a state between life and death, between here and there, between being and non-being; Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and how you can't have a knowledge of both position and momentum of a particle; et cetera--and just that brief re-reading was a huge help to me.

The book will teach you a lot about the subject, and will give you a good start toward further educating your knowledge of this awesome and frustrating topic, this topic which has already done so much toward unlocking the secrets of our existence and our universe--and toward confusing everyone.

Its glossary is lacking, its author has a subtle but evident Christian bias, but overall it's a good little book, and I enjoyed it. I recommend it.
39 von 50 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Very short, but not all that lucid 5. Dezember 2002
Von "jayjina" - Veröffentlicht auf
This is a short book, and that is its only advantage, unfortunately.
Granted, that the author is eminent in this field and was himself a student of the great Paul Dirac. However, this book does not sit easily in a series designed to make a subject approachable to the novice. It has far too much esoteric maths than is good for a book of this genre. An ever stronger criticism is the fact that instead of keeping to basic physics ideas such as the double slit experiment (which this book does well!) and then developing the ideas of atomic structure, and the uncertainty principle, it dwells on things like operators and such like.
If you want a good introduction to Quantum Theory, look no further than the books by George Gamow's "The New World of Mr Tompkins" or "Mr Tomkins in paperback", or, "Uncle Albert and the Quantum Quest".
38 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Profound, Concise, Scholarly, Accessible and "Real" 26. September 2002
Von James McPhate - Veröffentlicht auf
There are few things more beautiful to me than a profound, concise, respectable and rigorous small book. The gift of knowledge and time such a book provides matches is profound. "Quantum Theory, A Very Short Introduction" achieves this beauty nicely.

Looking at the small book, and my current desire to understand the essence of the mystery of Quantum physics, I had a strange desire starting the book- I wanted it to hurt a little bit. That is to say, I wanted it to be challenging enough to reach a profound depth and truth that matched my desire to know. And I wanted it to be real- not a fanciful tour of "cool stuff" but a book so steeped in knowledge that it exposes the diamond at the center of this leviathan. I wanted to be challenged, and maybe read a page two or three times to capture the occasional key point. I wanted a book by an author so knowledgeable that he would be brave enough to tackle this goal in a 100 page book. In other words, I wanted the truth, I wanted it quickly, and, as a result, I expected to sweat. I wasn't disappointed.

This book is part of an Oxford University Press series of "Very Short Introductions". The format of the books in this series is about 100 pages, in a small paperback size. The text is fairly small, with small margins, with maybe 300 words per page. That makes each books about 30 000 words, plus of minus 25% for pictures, paragraph size and so on. And the books are written by experts with a professional level of rigor. The are a very short, deep, and real introductions. They make you sweat a little.

My dream is to read the other hundred or so publications in the series. Probably not all of them, but a significant number. I'm at about six so far.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Not as introductory as it could be 7. Mai 2007
Von some hoser, eh? - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
In an introduction to a topic, one expects lots of figures to explain just about every topic. This book, and indeed the entire series, generally has rather few figures. The series also, generally, focuses on the historical development of the topic and not necessarily on the current understanding of the topic. Therefore, the series sacrifices a better explanation of our current understanding to explain who thought what and when. Nonetheless, this book serves adequately in the capacity of a "very short introduction."
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