Quantum Physics for Poets, by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill



I just finished reading a book I initially looked at entirely for it’s title: Quantum Physics for Poets by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill. I had a glance inside and within ten seconds knew I wanted to read it. The witty table of contents said everything. For example, “If You’re Not Shocked, You Haven’t Understood”, “The Parabola and the Pendulum”, “Catastrophe! (in Ultraviolet), and “Fourier Soup (or, I Think We’re Back in Kansas). To the math-haiku geek in me, these appealed, and I was not disappointed.

This is one of the best examples of a layman’s guide to a complex subject I have ever read. “Lives of a Cell” was pretty far up there. And in its day, “Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches” was pretty fantastic. But I never thought I’d be reading about quantum physics, and certainly not with a smile on my face, actually understanding it.

One minor criticism: Such a great book, by a Nobel Laureate, no less, deserves a much better cover. It’s a nifty image, but it’s completely inappropriate. The current cover says black hole in space, when it should say sunny day on earth; asphyxiatingly boring textbook when it should say warm apple pie made by a physicist.

Anyway, I got over halfway through before my little pea brain had any trouble with the subject matter. And then, there was a bunch of sentence and paragraph rereads to get what they were talking about. I will say though, that the book did much to get the old synapses firing. One concept even resulted in a big debate with my wife just before bed. Never a good idea. Especially since she keeps a peewee bat beside the bed for burglars. At least I thought it was for burglars.

So, ignore the cover, buy the book and hey, especially if the wife is smarter than you, don’t be pig headed about string theory when its time for cookies and jammies. You might find yourself sleeping on the floor with a nut swollen up like an eggplant.