You are here

Quantum Weirdness

William J. Mullin
Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Tom Schulte
, on

This slim introductory volume revels in the dilemmas offered by quantum mechanics: a reliably accurate description of nature and many counterintuitive surprises borne out experimentally. Not requiring more than basic, college-level mathematics of readers, it is a high-level survey of this fundamental science, valuing breadth over depth. Without the rigor, a dense variety of topics emerge from the compact volume. A silhouette of a cat created through a quantum entanglement procedure highlighting the locations of non-detected photons beckons the reader to follow from the dust jacket.

The book leads off with some basic physics of waves and an appendix reviews some classical physics concepts. Very little here relies on keeping track of many of the potentially confusing species of the “particle zoo”. The book instead relies on wave concepts of interference, displacement, frequency, and more. The author has also produced the textbook Fundamentals of Sound with Applications to Speech and Hearing (Leveller's Press); that book’s companion web site has enlightening animations supporting this text.

Fundamentals of quantum mechanics lead directly to the wave function. While it is prominent throughout the text, readers can comprehend the topics without following in detail the mathematics presented. The Schrödinger equation, including Dirac notation, could hardly be introduced more gently. Helpfully, the author revisits the equation throughout, going just a tad deeper each time.

The “weird” topics include superposition, entanglement, quantum tunneling, Bell’s theorem, Bose-Einstein condensation, quantum computing, and more including such “spooky action at a distance” facts as interaction-free measurement, teleportation of an atomic state, and other bizarre possibilities of our reality.

Tom Schulte is a software architect at SaaS ERP provider Plex Systems and finds anything weird worth reading about.

1. Waves
2. Quantum Particles and Waves
3. Harmonic Oscillators
4. Superposition
5. Entanglement
6. The Mach--Zehnder Interferometer
7. Bell's Theorem and the Merman Machine
8. What Is a Wave Function?
9. Bose--Einstein Condensation and Superuidity
10. The Quantum Zeno Effect
11. Bosons and Fermions
12. The Quantum Eraser
13. Virtual Particles and the Four Forces
14. Teleportation of a Quantum State
15. Quantum Computing
16. Weird Measurements