Focussing on the civilisation the author narrates about the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and the birth of steam and electricity saw human life transformed by new materials and technology. Thus the period we are living in now is defined as the Quantum Age, a revolution led by our understanding of the very small and live.
Technologies based on quantum physics account for some 35 per cent of GDP and quantum behaviour lies at the heart of every electronic device. Quantum biology explains how our ability to see, birds’ ability to navigate – and even plant photosynthesis relies directly on quantum effects.
Clegg makes the point that quantum theory, special and general relatively, are subjects that are often neglected in schools, in part because they are too difficult and in part because many teachers have little idea about them .
Electronics provides the most obvious of these applications, but we also visit the quantum world of the very cold where superconductivity and superfluids come into existence – and even explore the relevance of quantum physics to biology. This is all done in a very readable, storytelling fashion. This was particularly strong when bringing in key characters, like the remarkable Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (I read about HKO in our PG courses around Magnetism) responsible for early discoveries in the world of super cold, and the riveting story of the development of the laser which features everything from serendipity to the weird fallout of the US fear of communists in the 1950s that meant a leading scientist was not allowed to read his own notes as he didn’t have clearance to do so.
Ostensibly aimed at the general reader, this book will be of most interest to those who have a flair for science leaning. For the Non-Physics students this book would be a boon as far as information is concerned, but for me I felt I should have read this book long back.