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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,159 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Manjit Kumar Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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'Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality' is a science history book written by Manjit Kumar. Quantum was at one point shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2009.

Over decades, this famous debate was ongoing between Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. One occasion in particular was in 1927 at the Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons. Here, the most prominent physicists gathered to dissect the new theory of quantum physics. The readers of this book are in for a treat, as the lives of the pioneers of quantum physics and their work are related and presented to us with a thrilling overview of the landscape that science was in during physics' golden age. We hear narration of the lives of Neils Bohr, Albert Einstein, Planck, Rutherford, and Schrodinger, among others.

Quantum theory is readily acknowledged as bizarre and it sparked what some say is the greatest intellectual debate of the 20th century.

If a reader is curious about quantum theory but wants to bypass the complex math, this is the book for them. This is a hearty and thorough telling full of colorful characters and insightful commentary. We are reminded of the time when science made us think the universe was inside out.

Manjit Kumar founded Prometheus, an arts-and-sciences journal. He has written and reviewed for various publications, including the Guardian, and is a consulting science editor at Wired UK. He lives in London.

Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you aren’t shocked by quantum theory, you don’t really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves. In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution, focusing on the central conflict between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality and the soul of science. This revelatory book takes a close look at the golden age of physics, the brilliant young minds at its core, and how an idea ignited the greatest intellectual debate of the twentieth century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As a fairly innumerate non-scientist, I am perversely drawn to books about math and science and usually abandon them with ignorance intact. However, Quantum by Manjit Kumar…is so well written that I now feel I’ve more or less got particle physics sussed. Quantum transcends genre—it is historical, scientific, biographical, philosophical.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “A super-collider of a book, shaking together an exotic cocktail of free-thinking physicists, tracing their chaotic interactions and seeing what God-particles and black holes fly up out of the maelstrom…Provides probably the most lucid and detailed intellectual history ever written of a body of theory that makes other scientific revolutions look limp-wristed by comparison.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Kumar is an accomplished writer who knows how to separate the excitement of the chase from the sometimes impenetrable mathematics.”

    Financial Times

  • “With vigor and elegance, Kumar describes the ‘clash of titans’ that took place in the world of physics in the early twentieth century.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A wonderful experience for lovers of physics. In this audiobook, complicated scientific theorems and, at times, almost mind-bendingly complex discussions regarding elements, atomic weights, experiments, and chains of formulae are easily dealt with by Ray Porter, who demonstrates a relaxed familiarity with technical matter. Porter re-creates the lives and times of the great scientists Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Marie Curie, and Ernest Rutherford, among others…Quantum offers almost 15 hours of solid science for devotees of the subatomic world.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Converse | 1/31/2014

    " This work gives a better than usual account of the history of quantum mechanics in the early decades of the twentieth century and what was at issue in the controvery over its interpretation between Bohr and Einstein. In the last chapters it also explores the later work of the Irish physicist Bell, and those who experimentally tested his theoretical work, regarding action at a distance between particles. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Victor | 1/26/2014

    " The book describes vividly the characters of the early 20th century's discovery and formulation of quantum theory, and the controversy this sparked. The many human stories and emotions were well captured by the author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jenny Hemming | 1/8/2014

    " V good mix of people & science. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by marcali | 12/12/2013

    " gives context for the "theory of everything" beyond Einstein "

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