The best quantum physics books

15 authors have picked their favorite books about quantum physics and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Coming of the Quantum Cats: A Novel of Alternate Universes

This might seem a bit off-message because Pohl dropped out of college before finishing his science degree. But he did work as a weather forecaster in the US Navy. And I can’t resist including this book, because it deals with the area of science closest to my heart – many worlds, or parallel universes. The existence of these other worlds next door to our own is the best scientific explanation of the mysteries of quantum physics, such as the famous puzzle of Schrödinger’s Cat, and Pohl wraps it all up in entertaining fashion with a story of what happens when those worlds interact. The fact that Pohl includes a version of myself (actually, several versions of me) in the story has no bearing on my choosing it. I repaid the compliment by including him as a character in my story “Untanglement”, included in my anthology Don’t Look Back' ;-).

The Coming of the Quantum Cats

By Frederik Pohl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coming of the Quantum Cats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant novel of alternate universes by an award-winning science fiction master
 
A breakthrough in quantum physics has shattered the boundaries between alternate worlds. History is in chaos as billions of possible futures collide. As a conquering army mounts an invasion of neighboring realities, a handful of men and women from a dozen different timelines risk their lives to safeguard an infinity of worlds.

Blending thrilling suspense with brilliant scientific speculation, Frederik Pohl’s The Coming of the Quantum Cats is a triumph of the imagination by a Hugo and Nebula–winning master of science fiction.
 
“A powerful novel of parallel worlds…

Who am I?

John Gribbin has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and is best known as an author of science books. But he has a not-so-secret passion for science fiction. He is the award-winning author of more than a hundred popular books about science, ranging from quantum mysteries to cosmology, and from evolution to earthquakes. He has also produced a double-handful of science fiction books. He specialises in writing factual books about the kind of science that sounds like fiction (including time travel), and fictional books based on scientific fact (including climate change). His recent book Six Impossible Things was short-listed for the prestigious Royal Society prize, but he is equally proud of Not Fade Away, his biography of Buddy Holly.


I wrote...

Don't Look Back

By John Gribbin,

Book cover of Don't Look Back

What is my book about?

John Gribbin, widely regarded as one of the best science writers of the 20th century, has also, unsurprisingly, been writing science fiction for many years. While his novels are well-known, his short stories are perhaps less so. He has also written under pseudonyms. Here, for the first time, is the definitive collection of John's short stories. Many were originally published in Analog and other magazines. Some were the seeds of subsequent novels. This collection contains 23 short stories, three of which John wrote with his son Ben. It also includes an essay in which John addresses the paradoxes of time travel in SF, and another in which John argues that the Moon is, in fact, a Babel Fish! These stories, written at a time when issues such as climate change were taken less seriously (especially by politicians) now seem very relevant again. What underpins all of them, of course, is a grounding in solid science.

QED

By Richard P. Feynman,

Book cover of QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

My second pick is by the master himself. Richard Feynman’s little book explains quantum electrodynamics or QED to a lay audience. Not only did he receive a Nobel Prize for his discoveries in this area, but Feynman was at the pinnacle of using deep understanding of physics to give the simplest possible yet accurate description of the world as seen through physics. He steps the reader slowly and carefully through some incredible journeys of logic (without equations) to explain how light travels from one place to another and how light interacts with matter such as electrons. It’s basic stuff, but deep and a fun ride. 

QED

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked QED as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman's book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and…

Who am I?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.


I wrote...

Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

By Michael G. Raymer,

Book cover of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

What is my book about?

Until recently, quantum physics was seen as an esoteric topic that had little direct impact on ordinary people. That view is rapidly changing as scientists come to grips with the real-world ramifications of quantum physics as it applies to new kinds of technologies. The possibilities of quantum computers and a quantum Internet are raising our expectations for the next revolution, which will likely be as world-changing as the semiconductor revolution has been over the past 50 years. I wrote this book after years of developing creative ways to explain the inner workings of quantum physics in a way that requires little if any mathematics. Many non-scientist readers have said they appreciate the manner the subject is presented in, with just the right level of gentle challenge to help them think and learn.

Quantum

By Manjit Kumar,

Book cover of Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality

Given the radically distinct and often incongruent views of what quantum physics means, it is wise to glean a balanced sense of many views by studying the topic's history. Kumar's telling of the great, decades-long debate between two of the field's leading practitioners is authoritative and excitingly told. The book centers on the founding of quantum physics during the 1920s, the famous 1927 Solvay Conference on photons and electrons, and the thoughtful debate between Bohr and Einstein concerning the nature of reality. The author is a physicist, philosopher, and science writer.

Quantum

By Manjit Kumar,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Quantum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is about gob-smacking science at the far end of reason ... Take it nice and easy and savour the experience of your mind being blown without recourse to hallucinogens' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
For most people, quantum theory is a byword for mysterious, impenetrable science. And yet for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves.

In this magisterial book, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly-written history of this fundamental scientific revolution, and the divisive debate at its core. Quantum theory looks at the very building blocks of our world, the particles and processes without which it could…

Who am I?

Since my first college course in quantum physics, I have been fascinated with this enigmatic, infinitely interesting theory. It's our most fundamental description of the universe, it's been found to be unerringly accurate, yet it's quite subtle to interpret. Even more intriguingly, "nobody really understands quantum physics" (as Richard Feynman put it). For example, the theory's central concept, the wave function, is interpreted radically differently by different physicists. I have always yearned to grasp, at least to my own satisfaction, a comprehensive understanding of this theory. Since retirement 23 years ago, I have pursued this passion nearly full-time and found some answers, leading to several technical papers and a popular book.


I wrote...

Tales of the Quantum: Understanding Physics' Most Fundamental Theory

By Art Hobson,

Book cover of Tales of the Quantum: Understanding Physics' Most Fundamental Theory

What is my book about?

You've heard that we live in a world made of atoms. More fundamentally, we live in a universe made of "quanta." Many things – light, radio, electricity, gravitational fields, neutron stars, black holes, dark energy – are not made of atoms. But everything is made of highly unified bundles of energy called "quanta" that obey the rules of quantum physics. This is a book about these quanta and their unexpected behavior tales, if you will, of the quantum.  

Quanta are reputed to be incomprehensible. But, although their peculiar habits are not what we would have expected, these habits are comprehensible. This book explains those habits – wave-particle duality, fundamental randomness, quantum states, being in two places at once, entanglement, non-locality, Schrodinger's cat, quantum jumps – in everyday language, without mathematics.

Helgoland

By Carlo Rovelli, Erica Segre, Simon Carnell

Book cover of Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution

Carlo Rovelli is affectionately known as the “poet of modern physics,” and Helgoland does not disappoint in this regard. Don’t be fooled by the name, this book is about the deep concepts of quantum physics and the story of the scientists behind them.

Helgoland

By Carlo Rovelli, Erica Segre, Simon Carnell

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Helgoland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!


I wrote...

Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

By Chris Ferrie, Geraint F. Lewis,

Book cover of Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

What is my book about?

In this book I teamed up with cosmology professor Geraint F. Lewis as we examine the universe through the two unifying and yet often contradictory lenses of classical physics and quantum mechanics, tackling questions such as: Where did the universe come from? Why do dying stars rip themselves apart? Do black holes last forever? What is left for humans to discover?

This book represents a brief but fascinating exploration of the vastness of the universe and will have you turning the pages until your biggest and smallest questions about the cosmos have been answered.

Book cover of Quantum Physics for Smart Kids, Volume 4: A Little Scientist's Guide to Atoms, Molecules, Matter, and More

Baby is now a child and is probably ready to graduate beyond short analogies. So, next up is Quantum Physics for Smart Kids, where Valentina and her cat Plank journey into the quantum world! There they find all sorts of fun facts about quantum physics as well as some explanations for why the world behaves this way.

Quantum Physics for Smart Kids, Volume 4

By Carlos Pazos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quantum Physics for Smart Kids, Volume 4 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Age range 5 to 9

Discover the mystery of science with Future Geniuses!

Join Valentia, the little scientist, and her cat, Plank, as they learn why Plank can never seem to catch the laser he loves to play with.

To do this, they must shrink down to the smallest size imaginable. Once they're tiny, they can better learn about quantum physics, discovering secrets that are invisible to those of us who are full sized!

Valentina teaches Plank all about molecules, atoms, particles, photons, and matter., as well as solids, liquids, and gasses-and fusion and fission!

Future Geniuses is a collection…


Who am I?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!


I wrote...

Quantum Physics for Babies

By Chris Ferrie,

Book cover of Quantum Physics for Babies

What is my book about?

Quantum Physics for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to the principle that gives quantum physics its name. Babies (and grownups!) will discover that the wild world of atoms never comes to a standstill. With a tongue-in-cheek approach that adults will love, this installment of the Baby University board book series is the perfect way to introduce basic concepts to even the youngest scientists. After all, it’s never too early to become a quantum physicist!

My First Book of Quantum Physics

By Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (illustrator),

Book cover of My First Book of Quantum Physics

Fun and super clear graphics combined with straightforward discussions of complex topics make this book a hit. The writing is more expository than narrative, which will appeal to kids who love fact books and encyclopedias. Another one that both adults and kids can learn a ton from!

My First Book of Quantum Physics

By Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My First Book of Quantum Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by how the world works. What gives gravity so much power? Why is it easier to lift things with levers and pulleys? Why do we have electricity inside of our own bodies?! The world is amazing. My job editing nonfiction books for kids puts me on the front lines of some of the smartest science writing out there. While I had no hand in the making of the following five picture books about physics, they are still some of my favorites because of the way they peel back the mysterious layers of the world to show us the science hidden in our daily lives.


I wrote...

Forces: Physical Science for Kids

By Andi Diehn, Hui Li (illustrator),

Book cover of Forces: Physical Science for Kids

What is my book about?

What keeps us stuck on the ground? What makes magnets come together? What makes one team win during a game of tug of war? Forces!

In Forces: Physical Science for Kids, kids ages 5 to 8 are encouraged to observe and consider the different forces they encounter on a daily basis. Young readers develop a fundamental understanding of physical science and are impressed with the idea that science is a constant part of our lives and not limited to classrooms and laboratories. Simple vocabulary, detailed illustrations, easy science experiments, and a glossary all support exciting learning for kids ages 5 to 8. Perfect for beginner readers or as a read-aloud nonfiction picture book!

Beyond Weird

By Philip Ball,

Book cover of Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different

Quantum physics is supposed to be weird and mysterious, right? You might then get the impression that Beyond Weird will explain how quantum physics is weirder than weird. But, no! Beyond Weird is about how we can beyond the concept that quantum physics is weird. Philip Ball does an amazing job telling the story of how physicists have tried to make sense of quantum theory.

Beyond Weird

By Philip Ball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond Weird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."

Since Niels Bohr said this many years ago, quantum mechanics has only been getting more shocking. We now realize that it's not really telling us that "weird" things happen out of sight, on the tiniest level, in the atomic world: rather, everything is quantum. But if quantum mechanics is correct, what seems obvious and right in our everyday world is built on foundations that don't seem obvious or right at all-or even possible.

An exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape, Beyond Weird is a book about what…

Who am I?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!


I wrote...

Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

By Chris Ferrie, Geraint F. Lewis,

Book cover of Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

What is my book about?

In this book I teamed up with cosmology professor Geraint F. Lewis as we examine the universe through the two unifying and yet often contradictory lenses of classical physics and quantum mechanics, tackling questions such as: Where did the universe come from? Why do dying stars rip themselves apart? Do black holes last forever? What is left for humans to discover?

This book represents a brief but fascinating exploration of the vastness of the universe and will have you turning the pages until your biggest and smallest questions about the cosmos have been answered.

Quantum Mechanics

By Leonard Susskind, Art Friedman,

Book cover of Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum

Are you still here? Good. Because by now you are probably reading to tackle some university-level courses in quantum physics, right? Well, with your background in pop quantum physics all you need to get there is a little more abstraction. So, if you have the stomach for a bit of mathematics, Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum by Leonard Susskind is your ticket to the big show! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the math, though.)

Quantum Mechanics

By Leonard Susskind, Art Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quantum Mechanics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First he taught you classical mechanics. Now, physicist Leonard Susskind has teamed up with data engineer Art Friedman to present the theory and associated mathematics of the strange world of quantum mechanics.In this follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Theoretical Minimum , Susskind and Friedman provide a lively introduction to this famously difficult field, which attempts to understand the behaviour of sub-atomic objects through mathematical abstractions. Unlike other popularizations that shy away from quantum mechanics' weirdness, Quantum Mechanics embraces the utter strangeness of quantum logic. The authors offer crystal-clear explanations of the principles of quantum states, uncertainty and…

Who am I?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!


I wrote...

Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

By Chris Ferrie, Geraint F. Lewis,

Book cover of Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

What is my book about?

In this book I teamed up with cosmology professor Geraint F. Lewis as we examine the universe through the two unifying and yet often contradictory lenses of classical physics and quantum mechanics, tackling questions such as: Where did the universe come from? Why do dying stars rip themselves apart? Do black holes last forever? What is left for humans to discover?

This book represents a brief but fascinating exploration of the vastness of the universe and will have you turning the pages until your biggest and smallest questions about the cosmos have been answered.

What Is Real?

By Adam Becker,

Book cover of What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

Becker’s book is the most reliable popular account of the history of quantum theory from 1925 you can find. Many of the common myths about that history are dispelled, and much attention is paid to later figures like Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett, who kept the discussion of foundational issues alive. A good introduction for the general reader.

What Is Real?

By Adam Becker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What Is Real? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favoured practical experiments over philosophical arguments. As a result, questioning the status quo long meant professional ruin. And yet, from the 1920s to today, physicists like John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett persisted in…

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy at New York University, but my interests have always fallen at the intersection of physics and philosophy. Unable to commit to just one side or the other, I got a joint degree in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. My fascination with Bell’s Theorem began when I read an article in Scientific American in 1979, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of things ever since. My most recent large project is a Founder and Director of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.


I wrote...

Book cover of Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory

What is my book about?

Quantum theory has occasioned more philosophical and conceptual discussion than any other physical theory. It has also provided more accurate tested predictions than any other physical theory. Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory provides a rigorous but accessible presentation of the predictive formalism of non-Relativistic quantum mechanics, using a minimum of mathematics. That predictive formalism is not yet a physical theory: having a physical theory requires specifying precisely what physically exists and how it behaves. Three different approaches to understanding quantum mechanics illustrate the wide variety of possibilities still open.

Q is for Quantum

By Terry Rudolph,

Book cover of Q is for Quantum

This masterful book goes one step further and presents a game-based analogy that goes a long way toward explaining how a quantum computer actually works. Working through the book, one gains an understanding of how qubits can be quantum entangled and how entanglement leads to computing tasks that could not be performed on an ordinary computer. Deceptively simple in appearance, the method leads you deep into the inner workings of quantum logic operations without realizing you are digesting some pretty advanced concepts. The author knows of what he writes, as his theoretical discoveries led to one of the world’s most ambitious quantum computing efforts.  

Q is for Quantum

By Terry Rudolph,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Q is for Quantum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.


I wrote...

Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

By Michael G. Raymer,

Book cover of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

What is my book about?

Until recently, quantum physics was seen as an esoteric topic that had little direct impact on ordinary people. That view is rapidly changing as scientists come to grips with the real-world ramifications of quantum physics as it applies to new kinds of technologies. The possibilities of quantum computers and a quantum Internet are raising our expectations for the next revolution, which will likely be as world-changing as the semiconductor revolution has been over the past 50 years. I wrote this book after years of developing creative ways to explain the inner workings of quantum physics in a way that requires little if any mathematics. Many non-scientist readers have said they appreciate the manner the subject is presented in, with just the right level of gentle challenge to help them think and learn.

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