This January, I went to Iceland along with my university astronomical society. For the next couple of posts I’ll treat you with the spoils of the trip, including a photo of the elusive Northern Lights.
(The reason why they’re elusive was because we saw them only briefly and very faintly one night!)
Geysir, Southwest Iceland.
The first thing about this book is that you need to be careful, because the cover could cause you to go cross-eyed. But apart from that, the book is a fantastic read both for those who know a little about the topic and those who have no idea and are scared by the word “quantum” (which, to be honest, they should be).
Jim Al-Khalili takes your hand and guides you through the weird and wonderful world of quantum physics, and does so with a similar approach to that which an undergraduate might meet when they first start.
He does everything simply, clearly and with added humour; carefully introducing more and more concepts that underpin the entire field.
Later, when the reader has gained more confidence, the book moves into much more complex regions of quantum physics, including things which physics students might not have covered in much detail, yet the author still does it in a very easy to follow manner.
The entire book also has little nuggets of fact-file style pages, some written by Al-Khalili, but many written by colleagues from different universities, expanding on what has been mentioned in the main text of the book. Additionally there are amusing analogies such as the quantum diamond thief, and entertaining notes explaining to American readers that Leeds United are the best football team in the UK; all these merely add icing on top of a wonderfully yummy cake.
If you want to have a better understanding of quantum physics, or you’re a student who needs a quick explanation of the Zeeman effect because your lecturer makes no sense, then Jim Al-Khalili’s book “Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed” is perfect. Just don’t confuse it with a zebra.