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Good Beginner Book

  1. Sep 15, 2005 #1
    I have a student that is interested in learning some quantum physics at the conceptual level. What you be good reading material to start with. We can do a little math but I am in a high school setting. Any suggestions appreciated.

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  3. Sep 15, 2005 #2
    There really aren't many good quantum mechanics books out there that don't involve a lot of calculus and differential equations. This is more or less unavoidable with regards to the physical sciences. In my opinion, you should have a firm grasp of classical mechanics before you even consider looking at quantum mechanics; it makes the subject matter flow more smoothly. Learning physics is a slow process, that requires that you follow the steps more or less in order. I know this probably isn't the answer you want to hear because I was the same way back in high school, but that's the best way to go about it.
  4. Sep 15, 2005 #3

    Physics Monkey

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    The book I first read on quantum theory is "In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics And Reality" by John Gribbin. The concepts are all here, and the required math is relatively basic. A knowledge of high school algebra will get someone started, and Gribbin does the rest. As far as "popular science" books go, Gribbin is good. His book is much more grounded in real science than most pop sci books are. I would recommend this book as a first start.
  5. Sep 15, 2005 #4


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    Way back when I was in high school, one of the books that got me started on quantum physics was George Gamow's "Thirty Years That Shook Physics" which covers basically the 1905-1935 period. Gamow was actually part of the action, as a participant at Niels Bohr's famous institute in Copenhagen. His history and explanations of the physics are interspersed with great anecdotes about the physicists involved. (Imagine Niels Bohr demonstrating mountain-climbing technique by scaling a Copenhagen bank building in the middle of the night! Then the police came along and... :-)

    I hadn't thought about that book in a while, so I looked on amazon.com, and lo and behold, there it is, for $8.95 and free shipping, thanks to the folks at Dover Publications. Grab it!

    You might as well get some of Gamow's other books while you're at it. Start with "Mr. Tompkins in Paperback" if you want more modern-physics stuff, and add "One Two Three... Infinity" if your student is interested in math.
  6. Sep 15, 2005 #5

    George Jones

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    A nice modern book is The Strange Story of Quantum Theory by Daniel Styer.

  7. Sep 15, 2005 #6

    Tom Mattson

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    How about good old Halliday and Resnick? The math is minimal.
  8. Sep 15, 2005 #7
    Try "Quantum Mechanics in Simple Matrix Form" by Tomas F. Jordan. It is a good introduction for people who want to get some concepts of QM without knowing calculus or deferential equation.
  9. Sep 15, 2005 #8
    Sorry! Thomas F. Jordan is the author of “Quantum Mechanics in Simple Matrix Form”
  10. Sep 16, 2005 #9
    I like "The Quantum Universe" by Tony Hey and Patrick Walters. The math is specifically aimed at high-school level and it is full of pictures. It really gives a feel for what doing quantum experiments is like and gives lots of applications. Of course, Schroedinger's cat et. al. also make an appearance, but the book is more about the successes of the theory than about it's conceptual difficulties. Every high school should have this book in their library in my opinion.

    I also like "The Meaning of Quantum Theory" by Jim Baggott. It is aimed at explaining the conceptual problems of quantum theory to chemistry and physics undergrads. It has more math than a popular science book, and you may need a little calculus and linear algebra to follow some chapters. However, it's not as much as in a standard quantum physics textbook, so if your student is strong then they might enjoy the challenge.
  11. Oct 12, 2005 #10

    :smile: Thanks for all the suggestions. I will definitly look into most.
    I will probably start with the basic physics test and I have a few halliday resnick (don't we all).:biggrin:
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