In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat
By John Gribbin
Review by Tarun (Physics)
In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin is a fantastic book for anyone who is looking to study a physical science at university. The book is not mathematical in nature but combines the intriguing and rich history of the formulation of quantum mechanics along with some of its most stunning scientific insights. Quantum mechanics is one of the key foundations of undergraduate degrees in Physics and indeed Chemistry, so having a basic conception of the essence of the theory is a great tool to have before you come to university.
The subject of quantum mechanics is stuffed full of apparent paradoxes and produces results which defy our intuition, making it incredibly interesting to study. However, the study of it at degree level is constrained by the mathematical formalisms it entails. This book does a great job at stripping this away to give a written account of the incredible insights from the subject. It does this by building the topic from the ground up, starting from the first developments of quantum mechanics, all the way through to the current cutting-edge theories in quantum mechanics. Science is often best understood in this chronological fashion, to allow us to see the different layers of key insights and discoveries that have been added to the basic structure of quantum mechanics over time.
The one drawback of this book is also one of its biggest strengths — its lack of mathematical formalisms. On the one hand this allows us to explore some of the most interesting and deep ideas in quantum mechanics without being weighed down by the baggage of the mathematics required to get us there. However, it also means that the reader is sometimes left feeling short-changed, as we are provided with a key insight or result from the theory without having the maths to build up to this result and see how it was derived.
Overall, I would still most definitely recommend this book for any aspiring physicist. Gribbin uses his excellent understanding of the essence of quantum mechanics to produce a book that is equal parts fascinating and educational.
In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin
ISBN-10 : 9780552125550
ISBN-13 : 978-0552125550