I used to munch my way through any book I could find on Relativity, Quantum Mechanics or any similar topic. I’ve been out of that for a few years, but recently I picked up Quantum, by Manjit Kumar. Subtitled “Einstein, Borh and The Great Debate About The Nature of Reality”, it’s partly a book describing the “story” of Quantum Mechanics, and partly about how the theories relate to “reality”.
I can’t seem to finish many books these days, so any that drive me to finish them deserve a special mention just for that fact. This is one such book.
Manjit writes in quite an engaging style, but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with a few equations and diagrams to help things along. This book slowly introduces the people involved in the “story” of Quantum, referencing them only when they actually enter the story, rather than all at once. The story then diverts to explore the new person and their contribution.
By doing this Manjit has managed to keep the story fairly linear, despite the number of people working on parts of the theory at the same time, and this helps keep the flow going quite nicely.
Even with Manjit’s way of breaking things down into more easily understood explanations, a topic like this is never going to be “light reading”, but even so I still read late into the night, when my brain was all but dead.
There are four things this book has, that I believe all books of this type should have:
- A comprehensive “Notes” section.
- A comprehensive Bibliography
- A comprehensive glossary
- A comprehensive index.
You may notice a common theme here. I was surprised when I got to the end of the “story”, and there was still about a sixth of the book left unread. This is because it has all four of the above; with an emphasis on “comprehensive”.
Really, if this topic interests you, this is a great book to read; and with all the appendices, it will point out even more places to look should you not have twisted your brain out your ear enough by the end of it.