The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott
A History in 40 Moments

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The twentieth century was defined by physics. From the minds of the world's leading physicists there flowed a river of ideas that would transport mankind to the pinnacle of wonderment and to the very depths of human despair. This was a century that began with the certainties of absolute knowledge and ended with the knowledge of absolute uncertainty. It was a century in which physicists developed weapons with the capacity to destroy our reality, whilst at the same time denying us the
possibility that we can ever properly comprehend it.

Almost everything we think we know about the nature of our world comes from one theory of physics. This theory was discovered and refined in the first thirty years of the twentieth century and went on to become quite simply the most successful theory of physics ever devised. Its concepts underpin much of the twenty-first century technology that we have learned to take for granted. But its success has come at a price, for it has at the same time completely undermined our ability to make sense of
the world at the level of its most fundamental constituents.

Rejecting the fundamental elements of uncertainty and chance implied by quantum theory, Albert Einstein once famously declared that 'God does not play dice'. Niels Bohr claimed that anybody who is not shocked by the theory has not understood it. The charismatic American physicist Richard Feynman went further: he claimed that nobody understands it.

This is quantum theory, and this book tells its story.

Jim Baggott presents a celebration of this wonderful yet wholly disconcerting theory, with a history told in forty episodes -- significant moments of truth or turning points in the theory's development. From its birth in the porcelain furnaces used to study black body radiation in 1900, to the promise of stimulating new quantum phenomena to be revealed by CERN's Large Hadron Collider over a hundred years later, this is the extraordinary story of the quantum world.

About Jim Baggott

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Jim Baggott worked as an academic and in the oil industry for 11 years before setting up his own independent management consultancy practice. He was awarded the Marlow Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1989 and a Glaxo Science Writer's prize in 1992. His previous books include Beyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory, The Meaning of Quantum Theory: a Guide for Students of Chemistry and Physics and Perfect Symmetry: The Accidental Discovery of Buckminsterfullerene.
Published February 24, 2011 by OUP Oxford. 490 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Quantum theory—challenging, disconcerting and heavy on math—is not going to be pinned down and dissected for lay readers without a lot of kicking and screaming.

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Publishers Weekly

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"The reality of scientific endeavour is profoundly messy, often illogical, deeply emotional, and driven by the individual personalities involved...," writes Baggott, and his wonderful history of the scientists and ideas behind quantum mechanics offers ample entertaining proof.

Jan 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Quantum Story: A History ...

The Wall Street Journal

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Every physicist who has made any study of the subject is persuaded that the quantum theory is the most successful scientific theory ever devised.

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The Wall Street Journal

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In 1929, theoretical physicist Paul Dirac announced: "The general theory of quantum mechanics is now complete.

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Dallas News

As many of Baggott's 40 pivotal moments show, quantum theory has produced exquisitely accurate and productive descriptions of natural phenomena from the subatomic to the cosmic, succeeding where classical descriptions have failed.

Jun 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Quantum Story: A History ...

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