• Quantum

  • Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality
  • By: Manjit Kumar
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 14 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,641 ratings)

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Quantum

By: Manjit Kumar
Narrated by: Ray Porter
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Publisher's Summary

Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you aren’t shocked by quantum theory, you don’t really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves.

In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution, focusing on the central conflict between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality and the soul of science. This revelatory book takes a close look at the golden age of physics, the brilliant young minds at its core, and how an idea ignited the greatest intellectual debate of the 20th century.

Manjit Kumar was the founding editor of Prometheus, an arts-and-sciences journal. He has written and reviewed for various publications, including the Guardian, and is a consulting science editor at Wired UK. He lives in London.

©2008 Manjit Kumar (P)2010 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

“Lively…A wide-ranging account, written for readers who are curious about the theory but want to sidestep its mathematical complexities….Fascinating.” ( The New York Times Book Review)
“With vigor and elegance, Kumar…recounts this meaty, dense, exciting story, filled with vivid characters and sharp insights. With physics undergoing another revolution today, Kumar reminds us of a time when science turned the universe upside down.” ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Quantum

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Biographic facts not explanations.

If think it is fundamental here to say that this book is a biography of quantum physicists, not a lecture series explaining the problematic of quantum physics. As such I think it is rather good, quite detailed and very logically structured. Unfortunately I do not think the nature of the book is clearly understandable from the summary provided on the audible webpage. Thus to the people interested in the physicists and historical events connected to quantum revolution I very much recommend the book. The people who are searching for a deeper understanding of quantum phenomena I can only advise to search for another book.

82 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Quantum: Good read

The actual hard science is sidestepped but the gist of the theory is there. Non science backgrounds shouldn't worry it has a good flow and you can pick up the major concepts. Quite an interesting story with undertones of philosophy.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Kumar's QUANTUM surpasses all

Of all the audiobooks on the history of quantum mechanics available from audible.com, Kumar's QUANTUM is the most lucid, best written, chooses to emphasize the most significant events and puts them in the correct historical context and order in such a way that we can see their relevance to the theory of the quantum.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Account of the Einstein-Quantum Wars

The content and the narration by the reader are first rate. I have read a number of books on this topic, but the debates and Einstein's implacable thought-experimenting are re-created here with particular clarity, drama, and verve.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Signifying Darkly

I am sorry to have to send in such a bad review. Blame should rest largely with the producer and publisher, I believe. Having given up after about 20 minutes, I really cannot judge the content of the book itself. Like any book about physics it requires some concentration, and, for me at least, the reading makes this all but impossible. The reader might be a good choice for a noir detective novel, but is a dreadful mismatch for this material. The producer apparently believes that because physics is inherently dull, the reading should be doubly dramatic. The narrator seems to have little idea of what the text is about, but dutifully places a heavy dramatic inflection on every tenth word or any word that suggests significance. Hence a word like "enormous" will receive an awestruck intonation, though it occurs in a minor descriptive aside about someone's house with an "enormous garden." The reader seems to be looking for words, any words, that can be rendered ominous, emotive, or darkly significant. To me, this utter mismatch between style and content makes it nearly impossible to concentrate or absorb any information. Nor is the text captivating enough to rescue itself. By contrast, I found the audio book "Uncertainty" to be quite good, covering roughy the same terrain. Caveat: this is, of course, one man's opinion. If others react differently I hope they will write in. I don't like to criticize unduly, but I have a limited budget and am annoyed when I spend on a dud I simply can't finish. Again, I believe this is not so much the fault of the author or even the reader, but of a producer who badly mismatched the two.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent survey of early history of quantum th.

If you study quantum mechanics as an undergraduate, you will generally get a nicely packaged product with all the rough edges trimmed off, maybe a paragraph or two about the history of the subject, and almost no treatment of the philosophical underpinnings of the theory or its philosophical implications. This book would make an excellent companion to a physics course in quantum mechanics, though I think it can also be enjoyed by a general reader. It is an excellent survey of the history of the subject touching on work by Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Born, Pauli, Dirac, Heisenberg, de Broglie, and Schrodinger. Short biographies are given for each of the key players, but the real plot is the evolution of quantum theory, as it is patched and re-patched, driven into ever deeper water by experiment after experiment.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Considering This Book Already? Go For It

If you are not too interested in science, you might like this book. If you have any interest at all in the subject, you will like this book. As a high school Physics teacher who knew less than I ought to about quantum theory, I committed last summer to reading up on the subject. I read about Einstein, watched a video series on quantum theory, and listened to this book. Even without the other two endeavors, I would have found this book to be informative and interesting. It is written in a narrative style that neither insults the intelligence nor talks over your head. The story and the theory are both more interesting than you are probably imagining.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Best general book on quantum physics

This is the best book on quantum mechanics for the general public. The only issue I had with the audiobook version is the quality of the audio seems to change as if certain parts of the narration were re-done. It happens dozens of times throughout the audio and was distracting when listening to the audiobook.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Author Brings Quantum Theory to a Photographer

I love this book because the author uses such wonderfully simplistic description of science and experiments that I can follow him most of the time and most importantly, can feel the tension between Einstein, Bohr, Boern, Schrodinger and others over the entangle debate on the meaning of life, the universe and reality. Adding more depth to my entertainment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe and encouraging me to dig up a text that was hugely popular when I graduated high school: In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality.

This book was fascinating and fun! I do hope they bring Schrödinger's Cat to audible.com soon.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting History of the fathers of Quantum

This is a fun and interesting history of the fathers of modern physics. The books start out a little slow as it orients the reader, but if you stick with it, by chapter 3 you will start to connect with the real world characters of Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein and the many other important scientist who discovered and developed our modern day view of space time and quantum mechanics.

The dynamics between Einstein and Bohr plays out like a 50 year chess match between two grand masters. Each move well thought out and calculated. Each move brilliant and almost flawless, but somehow the other seems to find that little flaw and is able to advance their view slightly further. Even today, these two views are still being heavily debated and it is still not certain who's universal view will ultimately prevail Bohr or Einstein, or maybe the final answer will be both.

9 people found this helpful