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Quantum Mechanics (for Really Dumb Dummies)

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Sentinel
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« on: December 04, 2008, 14:08:34 PM »

I recently acquired a book entitled Quantum Mechanics Demystified.

The excitement was terminated as soon as I opened the book on page 1.  I now need a book: Quantum Mechanics Demystified, Demystified for Dumb Dummies.

I find the topic quite interesting, but the more I learn, the more I realise that I know nothing. I am not a mathematician nor a physicist, but would like to know more about the subject and the possible application thereof, without having to battle through the maths or get roped in by crackpots.  I have seen the documentary What the Bleep do we know, and have no interest to see the second edition (if it's as deluded as the first - made my woo sensors go bos).

Can anyone give me some guidance and point me in the right direction?  Some suggested reading material and web links would be much appreciated.  Video documentaries would be great!

Thanking all in advance,

Sentinel
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benguela
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2008, 15:14:59 PM »

"In search of Schrodinger's Cat" did it for me.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Search-Schrodingers-Cat-John-Gribbin/dp/0552125555
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Sentinel
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2008, 15:20:51 PM »



Thanks, this seems perfect.  The first line of the review sais it all: "...for those who lost interest when the equations started getting unintuitive."
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benguela
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 15:23:52 PM »

and then read  Michio Kaku's "Parallel Worlds", it awesome!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Parallel-Worlds-Science-Alternative-Universes/dp/0141014636/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228396942&sr=8-1
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Mefiante
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 16:42:18 PM »

Relatively easy reading:
Jim Al-Khalili   Quantum — A Guide for the Perplexed
Harald Fritsch   Quarks — The Stuff of Matter
Armin Hermann   The New Physics — The Route into the Atomic Age
Heinz R. Pagels   The Cosmic Code
Steven Weinberg        Dreams of a Final Theory



More technical:
John D. Barrow   The World Within the World
Richard P. Feynman     QED — The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
L. I. Ponomarev   The Quantum Dice
Fred Alan Wolf   Mind and the New Physics

The essential problem with Quantum Mechanics (QM) is one of interpretation, specifically what the physical meaning is of the terms that appear in the mathematical formulations.  For example, the Schrödinger wave equation (which superseded Heisenberg’s matrix mechanics) yields astonishingly good results but nobody knows exactly what the wave function actually describes.  Its modulus (magnitude = absolute value) is usually interpreted as a probability density function.  The mathematics behind the magic are not in question with the notable exception of the so-called “renormalisation problem.”

The short of it is that if you want to understand how the physics of QM arises from reality, you’ll find yourself pretty much in the same group as all QM experts: flummoxed.

'Luthon64
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Sentinel
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 18:32:19 PM »

Thank you, benguela and Luthon64, your assistance is much appreciated.

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bluegray
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2008, 19:38:13 PM »

I second John Gribbin's book. Although I'd recommend Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality which is more up to date. Although it is a followup to Schrödinger's Cat, you don't need to read the first book.
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benguela
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2008, 20:32:44 PM »

I took a look at a preview of Quantum Mechanics Demystified

phoaar! hectic integral equations and functions. damn that's higher grade! and it's demystified?  Shocked
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Sentinel
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2008, 23:08:40 PM »

I second John Gribbin's book. Although I'd recommend Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality which is more up to date. Although it is a followup to Schrödinger's Cat, you don't need to read the first book.


Thanks bluegray V

I took a look at a preview of Quantum Mechanics Demystified

phoaar! hectic integral equations and functions. damn that's higher grade! and it's demystified?  Shocked


My reaction exactly.  If this is "Demystified" I don't want to see a varsity textbook on the subject.  I've got a lot of respect for people who have carried on with maths and science to this level.  I am, however, still interested in the subject.  Thanks for all the help.
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AcinonyxScepticus
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2008, 10:09:28 AM »

Thanks for the great suggestions.  I can safely say that I really need my hand hald while we cross the street to learn about the quantum universe.  I have difficulty with concepts that are too abstract (arguably much of life is abstract like negative numbers, irrational numbers, etcetera) but there are some that are slightly more intuitive than others.

"Sounds interesting but what does it mean?!?!" was my mantra while studying imaginary numbers.  It took a long time to get close to an understanding that works for me.

I was so happy when I found this blog post yesterday (and some of the articles that it links to) which tied together so many of the abstract ideas with the experiencial world we live in.  I was shaken by that wonderful "AHA!" moment when this well-written piece concluded.

I have been bitten by the quantum bug too and I'd love to learn more.  I'll have Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality on my Christmas list.

James
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2008, 10:02:05 AM »

Schrödinger's cat and the follow up Schrödinger's kittens by John Gribons are both excellent and worth reading, they certainly influenced the way I began to see quantum physics and demystify some of the woo that surrounds it.

Zero the history of a dangerous idea, does a lot to demystify some of the strange concepts that advanced mathematicians use
like imaginary numbers etc. If you think Quantum Physics are hard to understand, the various branches of mathematics seem to be equally confusing yet fundamental to the workings of the universe.

If you can try and get hold of the Feynman lectures, I believe they are floating around the web in MP3 format but they are excellent.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2008, 14:42:37 PM »

For those who would like a bit more technical (read: mathematical) detail with a quite gentle introductory approach, I wholeheartedly recommend this site.  Only a few basic principles of physics and mathematics are required of the reader.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2008, 10:50:29 AM »

Since it became a little off topic, I split the last few posts to Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness
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