James Kakalios, the author of The Physics of Superheroes returns with an accessible and math-free primer on quantum mechanics. Most of us are unaware of how much we depend on quantum mechanics on a day-to-day basis.
Using examples from science fiction pulp magazines and comic books, The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics explains the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics that underlie the world we live in.
“A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World.”
In the pulp magazines and comics of the 1950s, it was predicted that the future would be one of gleaming utopias, with flying cars, jetpacks, and robotic personal assistants. Obviously, things didn’t turn out that way. But the world we do have is actually more fantastic than the most outlandish predictions of the science fiction of the mid-twentieth century. The World Wide Web, pocket-sized computers, mobile phones, and MRI machines have changed the world in unimagined ways.
The book begins with an overview of speculative science fiction, beginning with Jules Verne and progressing through the space adventure comic books of the 1950s. Using the example of Dr. Manhattan from the graphic novel and film Watchmen, Kakalios explains the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and describes nuclear energy via the hilarious portrayals of radioactivity and its effects in the movies and comic books of the 1950s.
“A really useful introduction to quantum mechanics that doesn’t pull its punches or talk down to the reader.”
- Popular Science (UK)
“Professor and professed nerd Kakalios explains the quantum world through science fiction characters like Buck Rogers and Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, who ‘gained independent control over his quantum mechanical wave function’ to teleport and change his size. Kakalios unites sci-fi fans and the scientists behind quantum theory in their shared ability to believe what once seemed impossible.”
“Highly readable…The scientist as a world-changing hero is an apt description for the physicists who developed quantum mechanics, Kakalios believes. He has a point. The discoveries by a handful of physicists back in the 1920s and 1930s of the rules that govern how atoms interact with light and each other continue to shape and change the world we live in.”
- New Scientist
“Physicist James Kakalios borrows from science fiction to explain how quantum mechanics underpins today’s technology, from DVD players to magnetic resonance imaging scanners….He looks ahead to nanotechnology breakthroughs that might one day harness quantum phenomena to bring us jet packs and time travel.”
“Physics has never been more fun!”
- *Booklist, STARRED review
“Quantum mechanics remains a complex field, but one as essential to a good education as, say, knowledge of Shakespeare or the Constitution….Kakalios [presents a] cheerful…[and]…quirky but sensible explanation of quantum mechanics that avoids the oversimplification of TV science documentaries.”
“A fantastic primer on the intricacies of the quantum world, using entertaining examples from – yes – classic comic books to illustrate his points. Along the way, we are treated to a broad overview of some of the coolest things quantum mechanics has given us, and a sneak peek at what might be in store.”
– Jennifer Ouellette, Cocktail Party Physics blog (re-posted on i09.com)
“A lot of fun to read….this weirdest of all sciences is made understandable by [Kakalios]; I’ve always wondered how glow-in-the-dark materials work, why lasers hardly need any energy source given how bright and strong they are, and just what makes semi-conductors so versatile. It’s all there. Also? Coolest cover for a science book ever.”
- Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy blog(DiscoverMagazine.com)
“James Kakalios does a good job of using examples of things in our everyday life that are impacted by quantum mechanics. I especially enjoyed his use of example from comics and sci-fi pulp magazines with a side order of Dick Tracy thrown in for good measure. There are some math equations contained within the book but luckily he warns you ahead of time in his introduction. They are simple equations (I.E. distance = speed * time) so you can put your fears to rest. There were a couple of concepts here and there in the book that I couldn’t exactly wrap my brain around but overall after reading it I was left with a much better comprehension of the workings of quantum mechanics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s curious about the subject. I give The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics 4 quantum Bites out of 5!”
“Physicist James Kakalios is famous for looking at the science behind comic-book superpowers, but his latest book is grounded in real-world science that can be as bizarre as anything the Watchmen could come up with: quantum mechanics. In “The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics,” Kakalios lays out his case that quantum physics is what makes real-life superpowers possible – such as the ability to watch a movie on your mobile phone or have your purchases tallied on a supermarket laser scanner.”
- Alan Boyle, MSNBC.com Cosmic Log
“Most of us are unaware of how much we depend on quantum mechanics on a day-to-day basis. Using illustrations and examples from science fiction pulp magazines and comic books, The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics explains the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics that underlie the world we live in. Sheer genius…Kakalios…, where were you 20 years ago? All those evenings wasted studying, when I could have been trying to pick up girls. Don’t make my mistake, students of the future. Buy your copy today.”
- John O'Neill,BlackGate.com