Author(s): Philip Ball
An exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape, addressing the question that most others fail to ask: what does quantum mechanics actually mean?
'This is the book I wish I could have written but am very glad I've read' Jim Al-Khalili
'I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.' Richard Feynman wrote this in 1965 - the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics.
Quantum physics is regarded as one of the most obscure and impenetrable subjects in all of science. But when Feynman said he didn't understand quantum mechanics, he didn't mean that he couldn't do it - he meant that's all he could do. He didn't understand what the maths was saying: what quantum mechanics tells us about reality.
Over the past decade or so, the enigma of quantum mechanics has come into sharper focus. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information: about what can be known and how.
This is more disturbing than our bad habit of describing the quantum world as 'things behaving weirdly' suggests. It calls into question the meanings and limits of space and time, cause and effect, and knowledge itself.
The quantum world isn't a different world: it is our world, and if anything deserves to be called 'weird', it's us. This exhilarating book is about what quantum maths really means - and what it doesn't mean.
"This is the book I wish I could have written, but am very glad I've read. It's an accessible, persuasive and thorough appraisal of what the most important theory in all of science actually means." -- Jim Al-Khalili
Philip Ball writes regularly in the scientific and popular media and worked for many years as an editor for physical sciences at Nature. His books cover a wide range of scientific and cultural phenomena, and include Critical Mass- How One Thing Leads To Another (winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books), The Music Instinct, Curiosity- How Science Became Interested in Everything, Serving The Reich- The Struggle for the Soul of Science Under Hitler and Invisible- The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics.