Quantum … Uh, What?

So, I brought Neil Turok’s The Universe Within on a long flight with the idea that several hours with nothing else to do would force me to understand quantum mechanics.

I should perhaps point out that before they gave me a Chemistry degree I had to pass a class in Quantum. I did all the math required and got a decent mark but I never really got it (although I have some, probably misplaced, faith that if the math is working out things must be making sense somehow.) Alas, I can’t say reading a book on a plane made everything fall into place and I spent more time perusing the duty-free cagalogue than I intended.  It’s just so hard to get my head around this stuff and trying usually leaves me feeling like I’ve consumed an ill-advised quantity of street drugs. (There could be an anti-drug campaign in there. Instead of “Just Say No” it could be “Just Say Wave-Particle Duality – feel and sound high without the expense and side effects.” Huh. Maybe it’s just as well I’m not a slogan writer.)

The bottom line is I tried to come up with a quick summary of the book and I can’t quite come up with one except “Nothing is as it seems.” But I don’t mean to say it isn’t an interesting and worthwhile book. Just maybe read it when you can pour yourself a nice cup of tea and concentrate not when you’ve been stuck on a plane half the night.

Incidentally, I noticed The Universe Within for sale at an airport bookstore, right next to Fifty Shades of Twilight Fan Fiction. Apparently I am not the only person who has resolved to master Quantum Mechanics in transit. This makes me feel a little more optimistic about humanity.

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