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Friday, January 6, 2017

How to teach Physics to your dog - Chad Orzel #Review

After reading his book "How to teach relativity to dog', which turned out to be a thriller of sorts, I was tempted towards this book. The style and manner are similar in both the books, but here in '...physics', there is more fundamental approach to the subject, that would, therefore be very useful for beginners. Nevertheless, the author takes us through his quirky dialogues allowing microscopic properties to be copied to macroscopic ones - the dog chasing the bunny

There is excellent description about the waves, diffraction and their bending. apart from Bell’s Theorem and g-factor. Planck's length is beautifully explained. The pronunciation of de-Broglie’s, who's wavelength was what we were hammering our heads against in our PG days, was a good toner here - de Broy!

Zeno's paradox was a new one to me. Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum also known as proof by contradiction. They are also credited as a source of the dialectic method used by Socrates. That said, the example of Tortoise and Achilles (In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. – as recounted by Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15) is brought out beautifully. There is hence a mathematical sequence to this and the resulting sequence is represented as:
{......,1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1}

Wave function Collapse and Quantum Entanglement/tunneling are given a big share in the book, though beautifully explained, these did not make interesting reading as I was aware of these two effects from previous reads. Quantum Healing is also being 'sniffed' upon by the dog and a meek reference to Deepak Chopra's book on the topic is enlightening.

“Physical body is like an illusion and trying to manipulate it is like grasping the shadow and missing the substance.” This is what the author has to say about the world which is a reflection of sensory apparatus that registers it.

Homeopathic Treatment finds a strange mention in this book. The Milagro's reference to its healing simply sends a chill through the brain's cortex. When minute quantities of herbs or toxins are placed in water and diluted to a point where there should not be a single molecule of the original herb or toxin in a given water sample, the water gets 'disturbed'. The water tries to remember its 'past' in the presence of original substance, though and acquires some of its properties which supposedly enables the water to heal the patients who drink it. This memory effect of water is related to Quantum Entanglement.

The book is far less mathematical than any other similar book of this caliber and hence is much more enjoyable. If you don't mind a talking dog, and frequent references to bunnies, then this is an excellent introduction to quantum physics.

A confession by the dog:

The universe is making fun of me
So here's the problem:
Particles do not exist - fields do.
Fields do not exist - particles do.

This insight is not helping me. In fact, I find that it leaves me profoundly frustrated. Clearly, the universe is conspiring against me. It is thwarting all my efforts to grasp what is going on. My intuition is failing. The way I have thought about the world all my life is useless when trying to understand how the world works at a deeper level. I am in a quagmire, I am thrashing around, straining to grasp the branch of a tree in an attempt to steady myself, to lift myself onto solid ground.

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