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Request a Simple book that explains Quantum Physics

Sandra Bachan
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Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Hello,

Lately, I have been facinated with the subject of Quantum Physics. It really makes me think of religion and how the world works.

For instance, a Wired article on Theory of Relativity and National Geographics made me think of ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts that mention a moment in Heaven equals many years on Earth.

And today, I read another Wired article on Quantum Entanglement made me realize on little we know about our universe.

As Albert Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe"

Please recommend any easy-to-read books on Quantum Physics or related topics for those who are novices. This field of science seems so interesting and I would certainly like to learn more.

Perhaps by understanding our universe a little better, we can apply this to our programming skills.


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Stephan van Hulst
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Joined: Sep 20, 2010
Posts: 3594
    
  14

Well, I really enjoy the Introducing... series. I haven't read the one on quantum theory, but if it's anything like the others, I'm sure it's a good read.

Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
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Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24183
    
  34

Not quantum physics, per se, but many other important topics in modern physics, and an easy and fun read: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.


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David O'Meara
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Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I was going to say that. Instead I'll say:
<hijack>
@Stephan van Hulst: You like Firefox, Notepad and Vista?!?
Are you having a lend?
</hijack>
Stephan van Hulst
Bartender

Joined: Sep 20, 2010
Posts: 3594
    
  14

Haha, not at all. Admittedly, I use Notepad only for smaller projects. I enjoy the challenge of trying to write stuff that compiles on the first try, without the aid of code folding, syntax highlighting, etc.

For less frivolous projects I use UEStudio, a text editor with quite some nice features. I would use NetBeans, UEStudio has Column Mode which I use quite a lot, and it also completes every word I start typing, which dramatically increases coding speed.
Maneesh Godbole
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Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10170
    
    8

David O'Meara wrote:
Are you having a lend?

Man these Aussies sure speak a different English!


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David O'Meara
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Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I chose that over he more vulgar taking the piss
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14074
    
  16

The problem with quantum physics is that the world at the level of elementary particles is very counter-intuitive. You can imagine these particles as small marbles that are zipping around and bumping into each other, but that's not how these particles actually behave. They behave as waves and as point particles at the same time. So it's not like anything that we can easily imagine. Einstein didn't like quantum physics, at least in part because it's so counter-intuitive.

Despite it being counter-intuitive, scientists can very successfully use mathematics to get to results that apply in the real world based on the theories of quantum physics. I had some courses on quantum physics in university, it was hard to understand but the mathematics were doable, so I got a high grade for it.

There is a lot of interesting information on this on Wikipedia. You could start, for example, at Introduction to quantum mechanics and follow the links from there.

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Sandra Bachan
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Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Jesper de Jong wrote:

Despite it being counter-intuitive, scientists can very successfully use mathematics to get to results that apply in the real world based on the theories of quantum physics. I had some courses on quantum physics in university, it was hard to understand but the mathematics were doable, so I got a high grade for it.




That's what's so facinating about this topic. A lot of times I find myself in troubling situations, then I tell myself there is something bigger than us that designed the universe and things and event are not as random as they appear to be, and each one of us has a purpose for existing. Perhaps this is related to Quantum Physics, perhaps I am going off on a tangent.....

I definately appreciate these wonderful resources, will certainly check when I get some down time.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
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  16

Sandra Bachan wrote:A lot of times I find myself in troubling situations, then I tell myself there is something bigger than us that designed the universe and things and event are not as random as they appear to be, and each one of us has a purpose for existing. Perhaps this is related to Quantum Physics, perhaps I am going off on a tangent.....

I don't think that kind of feeling has anything at all to do with science and quantum physics. Those feelings are about religious, spiritual or mystical experiences.

The only reason why people sometimes think they see some kind of connection between quantum physics and spirituality is because they are both mysterious, and people have the feeling that quantum physics somehow reveals mystical truths about how the world works.

In reality, quantum physics does not have anything to do with mystical things at all. It's just science, in the form of physics and mathematics, to describe what we observe in the real world at the smallest scales.
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41106
    
  45
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Not a bad book, but I was less than satisfied when in the later chapters the answer to most "why is it this way?" questions seemed to be "because we wouldn't be here to observe it if it was any other way". But I enjoyed the discussion of why 10 dimensions work so much better than 4, and why 26 dimensions are better still...


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Jesper de Jong
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  16

To mention a few more books, I liked The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos by string theorist Brian Greene a lot.
Sandra Bachan
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Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Wow, what wonderful replies!!!
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 2991
    
    9
Jesper de Jong wrote:To mention a few more books, I liked The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos by string theorist Brian Greene a lot.

JdJ++

These two books are really more about going beyond quantum physics. But they do a good job of filling in the necessary background, for a mostly non-mathematical treatment of the subject.

I also strongly recommend Michio Kaku's Hyperspace and Parallel Dimensions. Like Brian Greene's work, they go well beyond the boundaries of standard quantum theory, but give you what you need to keep up.

I haven't yet read Lisa Randall's Warped Passages, but from what I've heard I suspect that it's of similar quality and scope.

All the above books are heavily into String Theory, a popular modern branch of quantum mechanics. This branch tends to offer ideas which are both extremely elegant, and extremely difficult to actually prove by traditional scientific methods. Perhaps impossible to prove.

Insert obligatory quote from The Big Bang Theory (pilot episode):
Leonard: [discussing Sheldon's work in string theory] At least I didn't have to invent 26 dimensions just to make the math come out.
Sheldon: I didn't invent them. They're there.
Leonard: In what universe?
Sheldon: In all of them, that is the point!

Seriously, this was a laugh-out-loud moment for me. It's so far from the sort of humor you would expect to find on mainstream TV, and it gets one of the core points of modern string theory pretty well. While also showing what an arrogant putz Sheldon is. Except for (or because of) his annoying habit of usually being right.

--------

Sandra: rereading your original query, I think you may also be interested in The Tao of Physics. Possibly it's more relevant for you than any of the other replies so far, as I think it directly addresses some of the issues you talk about. I read an earlier edition (3rd?) back in the late 1980s. I don't know how well it's been updated to reflect subsequent discoveries and theories. But it was a fascinating read from the perspective of a college sophomore in Physics, wondering what it all Meant. It wasn't really convincing, but it was thought-provoking. In a "gosh, look at all these coincidences!" sort of way. Probably worth a look. It's up to you to decide if this was the real deal, or some just some aftereffect of late hippie drug culture in the US.
Deepak Bala
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Joined: Feb 24, 2006
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    5

Need a crash course on theoretical physics ? Ask him anything



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Joe Harry
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Joined: Sep 26, 2006
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    2

Have a look at this series http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Feynman_Lectures_on_Physics

I liked it when I used them to learn for my examinations.


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Sandra Bachan
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Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Wow Wow Wow this thread is getting fantastic responses!!!

Mike: I just went to the link, "The TAO of Physics" and it looks like something I can sink my teeth into. I have been interested in learning about ancient texts from all religions. Recently completed watching all 96 episodes of the Mahabharat, now watching Journey to the West.

Deepak: Love the graphics of this game. My nephew would love this!

Joe: I wish I had heard about Feynman Lectures when I was an undergraduate taking Physics. As a matter of fact, I know someone who is struggling with physics and will refer them to the link.

You guys are awesome
 
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