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September 02, 2003

Six Easy Pieces

Finished this one yesterday. Indeed the first five 'pieces' were easy. Only the section on quantum mechanics had any confusing bits, and Feynman went very far to improving my understanding of it (which was rudimentary to begin with).

For example, I could recite the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but it was mostly by rote. Now, I really have a better comprehension of what it means.

He grounds his explanation in the classic 'two slots' experiment to show the wave/particle nature of electrons and photons, then shows how the measurements by sensor can determine which hole an electron enters, but only by destroying the interference. I won't recite the whole outline of the chapter, read it for yourself. By the time you're done, you'll understand that the Uncertainty Principle has physical manifestations which don't require a particle accelerator to show up.

Overall, worth the read. I'm looking at The Song of the Earth by Hugh Nissenson, next. It's a novel in the form of a journalistic biography, and thus far, isn't sustaining my interest. I'll probably give it about fifty pages, then bag it and move on to my next book, Ring, by Koji Suzuki. This is the Japanese novel on which Ringu and it's American remake The Ring were based. Dunno if it will grab me, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Posted by dpwakefield at September 2, 2003 08:58 PM