Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You by Marcus Chown

Light and fun. Marcus has a way of making such an obtuse subject more understandable with excellent analogies or detours into the land of "think of it like this . . ."

Easy to bite off and chew chapters on various implications and aspects of current scientific thinking.

We get some great throw away amaze your friends type facts but also a deeper understanding of just how strange the universe is.

This book makes the subject much more approachable and nearly understandable and is a great introduction to the topic.

I have added his other books to my ever growing "read this" list.

Three and a half out of five stars.


  1. Thanks! I think I'll order it! Have you read Brian Green's popular books? How does this compare? More technical? less?

  2. Hi Cliff,

    I have Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos and also Elegant Universe (but I can't find it) - is that who you mean?

    Greene is a great writer - Chown is not far behind in my view.

    Then again it's not a completely fair comparison as Chown is light and brief and funny. He seems to have grasped the fact that it's fine to say "we haven't a clue about this at all - so don't worry if you struggle" - then goes on to give quick and simple analogies to help you get the gist of things.

    Greene (from memory of reading this a couple of years ago) has a much more "worthy" approach to the same issues and spends much more time on each topic - not necessarily with any more success in terms of breakthroughs in understanding by the reader - but certainly in terms of the simple enjoyment of his writing and his elegant turn of phrase.

    So to answer your question - probably no less technical - but briefer and friendlier feeling.

    Bottom line - read them both!

    Best Regards,


  3. Yes, those are titles I had in mind. I read Elegant Universe also about two years ago, and Fabric of the Cosmos sits on my shelf waiting for me to find time. I also found him very enjoyable, his style easy to read. But this Chown book sounds fun

  4. Dear Psi,

    Thanks for your kind comments. It's really nice to have someone understand what I have done and be appreciated!

    Best wishes,
    Marcus Chown

    If you're interested, my best book - in my opinion - is "The Magic Furnace" (Vintage).

    Marcus Chown/New Scientist

    Web site: www.marcuschown.com

  5. Hi Marcus,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    A great book - keep up the good work!

    Of course if you want to send me an advanced copy of the next one I will be happy to review it free of charge ;-)

    Best Regards,


  6. Dear Psi,

    Would be happy to do that, though I don't expect my next book to be published until late 2009 (since I haven't finished it yet!). But would be happy to send you THE NEVER-ENDING DAYS OF BEING DEAD (Faer, 2007), which is about BIG questions - What happened before the big bang? What's beyond the edge of the Universe? Why do we experience a 'present'? Is Elvis alive and kicking and living in another space domain?!

    What's your address?

    Best wishes,

    See you like "The Philosophy Gym". I liked that too.

  7. Hi Marcus,

    That's very generous of you. I don't publish my address on the web - had enough threatening stuff from creationists as it is.

    Come to think of it your style would make for an entertaining dissection of creationist dogma.

    Drop me an email at psiloiordinary@mac.com and we can sort out the details.

    Kind Regards,


  8. Marcus,

    Just in case you pass by again - did you knwo that you are being quoted by creationists?


    What do you think?