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Quantum Physics

Book Description

Quantum physics explores the behavior of matter and energy at the molecular, atomic, nuclear, and even smaller levels. Idiot's Guides: Quantum Physics makes this very complex topic easy to understand. It skips the complicated math and dives right into all the concepts, paradoxes, thought experiments, and implications that make quantum mechacs so fascinating to armchair science buffs. Topics covered include:

- Quantum vs. classical physics
- A look at the smallest known particles
- How the tiniest particles behave both as particles and waves
- The famous double-slit experiment
- Quantum wave function
- The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
- How particles can be in multiple places at once
- Quantum entanglement
- The Schrodinger's cat thought experiment
- Competing interpretations of quantum physics
- The Copenhagen interpretation and need for an observer
- The role of consciousness in quantum theory
- The Many Worlds interpretation and parallel universes
- Building a quantum computer
- Quantum gravity and the search for a theory of everything

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Introduction
  5. Part 1: Quantum vs. Classical Physics
    1. 1 Putting the “Quantum” in Quantum Physics
      1. What Is Physics?
      2. Understanding, Predicting, and Applying
      3. Theory, Experiment, Gedankenexperiment
      4. The Process of Physics
      5. The Scale of Quantum Physics
      6. What’s New?
        1. Intrinsic Granularity
        2. Logical Inconsistencies
        3. Inherent Uncertainty
        4. Interactive Measurements
    2. 2 Pre-Quantum Mechanics
      1. How Forces Move Us
      2. The Universal Law of Gravity
      3. Force Fields and Potential Energy
      4. Causal and Predictive Determinism
      5. The Classical Certainty Principle
      6. The Conservation Laws
    3. 3 Light and Matter
      1. Newton’s Light Corpuscles
      2. Young’s Double-Slit Experiment
      3. Maxwell’s Famous Equations
      4. Electromagnetic Spectra
      5. A Touch of Thermodynamics
    4. 4 Early Atomic Theory
      1. The Indivisible Atom
      2. X-Ray Crystallography
      3. The Divisible Atom?
      4. The Plum Pudding Model
      5. The Nuclear Model
      6. The End of Physics?
  6. Part 2: The Quantum Postulates
    1. 5 The Quantum of Action
      1. The Ultraviolet Catastrophe
      2. Catastrophe Averted
      3. Planck’s Hypotheses
      4. Trombones, Trumpets, and Triples
      5. Energy Quantization and You
    2. 6 The Quantum Theory of Light
      1. Maxwell Stumbles Again
      2. The Heuristic Light-Quanta
      3. The Photon
      4. The Compton Effect
      5. Wave-Particle Duality, Take 1
    3. 7 Quantizing the Atom
      1. Revisiting the Atom
        1. The Atomic Spiral
        2. Those Mysterious Line Spectra
      2. The Bohr Model
        1. Bohr’s Postulates
        2. Filling the Gaps
      3. Hydrogen Explained
      4. Explaining the Periodic Table
      5. The Concept of Standing Waves
  7. Part 3: Quantum Mechanics
    1. 8 Matter Waves Matter
      1. The Humble Electron
      2. De Broglie’s Radical Relation
      3. The Davisson-Germer Experiment
      4. Protons, Potatoes, and Pluto
      5. A Second Look at Wave-Particle Duality
      6. Double-Slit Redux
    2. 9 The Quantum Wave Function
      1. Quantum Waves
      2. The Role of Probability
      3. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
      4. Conjugate Pairs
      5. Uncertainty in a Macroscopic World
      6. The End of Determinism
    3. 10 Quantum Wave Mechanics
      1. The Schroedinger Equation
      2. Wave Functions and the Wave Equation
      3. Solving the Schroedinger Equation
      4. Eigenfunctions, Eigenvalues, and Quantization
      5. Probability and Expectation Values
      6. Heisenberg’s Matrix Mechanics
    4. 11 Wave Functions Illustrated
      1. The Free Particle
      2. The Particle in a Box
      3. Barriers and Tunneling
      4. The Particle on a Spring
      5. The Hydrogen Atom
        1. Electron Clouds
        2. The Bohr Atom Revisited
        3. Quantum Numbers and Degeneracy
    5. 12 Particle Spin
      1. The Stern-Gerlach Experiment
      2. The Spin Quantum Number
      3. Fermions and Bosons
      4. The Pauli Exclusion Principle
      5. Revisiting the Periodic Table
      6. Antimatter
      7. Pair Production and Annihilation
  8. Part 4: Interpreting Quantum Physics
    1. 13 The Copenhagen Interpretation
      1. The Basic Features
        1. Uncertainty and Duality
        2. Wave Functions and Probability
        3. Superposition and Collapse
        4. Measurement and Objective Reality
      2. Schroedinger’s Cat
      3. The Bohr-Einstein Debates
    2. 14 The Completeness of Quantum Physics
      1. The EPR Paradox
      2. Spooky Action at a Distance
      3. Hidden Variables
      4. Bell’s Inequality
      5. The Aspect Experiment
    3. 15 Alternate Interpretations
      1. The Many Worlds Interpretation
      2. The de Broglie-Bohm Interpretation
      3. The Holographic Universe
      4. Quantum Logic
      5. The Role of Consciousness
        1. Von Neumann’s Chain
        2. Free Will and Determinism
      6. Why Bother Trying to Interpret Quantum Physics?
  9. Part 5: Grand Unification
    1. 16 The Fundamental Interactions
      1. From Galaxies to Quarks
      2. The Gravitational Interaction
      3. The Electromagnetic Interaction
      4. The Strong Interaction
      5. The Weak Interaction
      6. A More Fundamental Interaction?
    2. 17 The Fundamental Particles
      1. Leptons and Quarks
        1. First Generation Fermions
        2. Generations Two and Three
      2. Quantum Field Theory
        1. Quantum Electrodynamics (QED)
        2. Weak Interactions
        3. Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD)
        4. Quantum Gravity?
      3. The Higgs Boson
      4. The Standard Model
    3. 18 Toward a Theory of Everything
      1. Limits of the Standard Model
      2. The Theories of Relativity
      3. Possible Quantum Theories of Gravity
        1. Supersymmetry
        2. String Theory
        3. Loop Quantum Gravity
      4. Beyond Experiment?
  10. Part 6: Applications of Quantum Theory
    1. 19 Quantum Lights and Solids
      1. The Neon Light
      2. The Laser
      3. The Global Positioning System
      4. The Semiconductor
      5. The Solar Panel and the Light-Emitting Diode
      6. Superconductivity
    2. 20 Quantum Imaging
      1. Medical Imaging
      2. The Electron Microscope
      3. The Smoke Detector
      4. The Imaging of Viruses
    3. 21 Quantum Information Technology
      1. The Quantum Computer
      2. Bits vs. Qubits
        1. Quantum Computation
        2. Building a Quantum Computer
      3. Quantum Cryptography
      4. Quantum Teleportation
      5. Where Next?
  11. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B Historical Timeline
    3. C Mathematics Supplement
    4. D Additional Resources
  12. Index
  13. About the Author