3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

It seems such a simple experiment, you shine a beam of light at a plate with two slits in it, you’d expect to have two visible patches of light on the surface behind. But it doesn’t work out that way, What you end up with is a series of lines of light on the rear surface similar to this called an interference pattern.

It is something that perplexed scientists since the 1800s after Thomas Young devised the experiment to show how light behaved like a wave. Around 100 years later Einstein then showed that light was a particle. This was the birth of quantum mechanics. But how could light be both a wave and a particle? Does it actually exist before we look at it, and do we change its state in the process of looking at it?

For the non-scientific person, quantum mechanics can be quite incomprehensible really. Though to be fair, it can often be baffling for the scientists that are studying this part of physics too, hence why there are at least three sets of theories that go some way to explaining just what is going on. As well as grappling with this fundamental law of physics, Ananthaswamy has met a number of the people that are involved with studying this and who are trying to tease out an understanding of what thee quantum world behaves in the way that it does.

I liked this book as Ananthaswamy does a really good job of unpicking the story from the science. One of the points that I thought he made that was very interesting was that the gap between Newtonian physics and when Einstein developed the General Relativity was around 300 years. As he says, we should not expect to have all of this solved and understood overnight. He writes really clearly, however, I must admit that I found some of the book utterly baffling. But it is the subject in physics that is trying the keenest minds at the moment.

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