Jim Baggott’s Beginner’s Guide to Reality (2005) told the whole history of our attempts to answer the basic (but infuriating) question “What is reality?” His latest, The Quantum Story, splits the development of quantum physics into 40 discrete moments: It, too, is an excellent, elegant primer.
Baggott begins with Max Planck, in Berlin, in December 1900; moves through Schrödinger’s cat, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and Albert Einstein’s argument with Niels Bohr; and brings us up to black holes and the Hadron Collider. Did we get quantum physics after reading his book? Hardly. (Then again, we’re pretty sure that most scientists don’t get it, either.) But we did get a sense of the lay of the land, and its many fascinating residents.
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