Sunday, March 15, 2020

Beyond WeirdBeyond Weird by Philip Ball
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always try to get alternate viewpoints from as many scientists as I can. I also enjoy sorting out my understanding of quantum physics, searching for better stories, better analogies, and just... BETTER. This book is one of the BETTER. It may not be as charming as some and I don't mind how it skimps on biographies and jumps right into the SCIENCE, but it does fall short in outright describing the math. (That may be a good thing for some. Especially if you're not in the mood to crunch math.)

To be certain, this text goes beyond the everyday norm and focuses on the science. The ideas. The concerns. And it's all in the service of demystifying it all.

Quantum Physics is one of those subjects that agrees on fundamental maths but invites wildly divergent theories that make a coherent STORY of our reality. You know: Copenhagen (don't go nuts on us,) Everett (multiple-worlds), String, and more.

What we have in this book is not a biography of the physicists but an admirable attempt to make the famously weird (thank you Feynman!) as commonplace and normal as can be.

I mean, we're human, and humans are most famous for turning all things truly fantastic into the stunningly banal. :)

And this is exactly what this book tries to accomplish. Step by step, it demystifies the very small particles, removes the term spooky action, and naturalizes all things entangled.

It gives time to the various big-action theories that align the quantum with the macro, and all of this is pretty good if not as good as some other books that cover these topics, but what this book does best is describe the current technology of quantum computers. It doesn't shirk the shortcomings of our descriptions or the limitations of the process. This isn't a PR job by prospective companies trying to sell you a 100k computer.

BTW quantum computers ARE on the market now. Some developers are working on cheaper versions. What are they really good at? Factoring prime numbers.

Thank goodness! That's great for all you hackers out there! PGP MAY need a booster soon. :)

While this one doesn't always come close to the charm I'm used to in popularized physics books, I really have nothing bad to say about the contents.

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