"The most prolific and gifted writer in the [popular science] genre." Peter Forbes, The Author

Book Cover for Beyond WeirdWhy Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics Is Different

"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics."

Richard Feynman wrote this in 1965 – the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics.

Quantum physics has come to be regarded as one of the most obscure and impenetrable subjects in all of science. But when Feynman said he didn’t understand quantum mechanics, he didn’t mean that he couldn’t do it – he meant that’s all he could do. He didn’t understand what the equations were saying: what quantum mechanics tells us about reality.

The enigma of quantum mechanics hasn’t lessened, but over the past decade or so it has come into sharper focus, making its old clichés less useful. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less a theory about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information: about what can be known and how. This has far more disturbing implications than is suggested by our bad habit of describing the quantum world as ‘things behaving weirdly’. It calls into question the meanings and limits of space and time, cause and effect, and knowledge itself.

An exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape, this is a book about what quantum maths really means – and what it doesn’t mean. It offers the first up-to-date, accessible account of the quest to get to grips with the most fundamental theory of physical reality, and to explain how its counterintuitive principles create the world we experience.

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Published by Bodley Head/University of Chicago Press, 2018

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Philip Ball is a writer. Most of his books are concerned with science in some form or another: its history, its interactions with the arts and society, its achievements, delights and detours. He is a regular columnist for several magazines and an occasional radio presenter and broadcaster. He was an editor of Nature for many years, and long ago, a chemist and physicist of sorts.

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