The Book: How to Teach Physics to Your Dog
"Thanks to Chad Orzel and his endearing mutt Emmy, I finally understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle! Not to mention a few crucial ideas that Emmy grasped perhaps more quickly than I. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog is a blessing for all those who never mastered – or maybe even had the faintest glimmer about – modern physics. I can’t be the only one."
-- Spencer Quinn, author of Dog On It
"This charming little book is both a light-hearted and amusing way for laypeople to learn about one of the strangest and most important aspects of modern science and a great resource for practicing "quantum mechanics" who want new ideas on how to more effectively explain their work to the public."
--William D. Phillips, 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics
"Quantum physics is perhaps the most interesting and slipperiest scientific subject; who knew that Socratic discussion with an adorable dog was the key to unraveling it?"
-- Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and co-editor of Boing Boing.
"I’ve long believed that everyone should be familiar with the wonders of quantum mechanics. I had no idea that 'everyone' would include dogs! Chad Orzel’s book is a fast-moving and fun introduction to some of the deepest mysteries of modern physics. And Emmy is a star."
-- Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here, Cosmic Variance
"Chad Orzel teases out the mysterious and seemingly incomprehensible side of advanced physics and makes it comprehensible via one-sided monologues to even the most distractible: dogs, humans, and in my case even disdainful felines or somewhat puzzled infants."
--Tobias Buckell, author of HALO: The Cole Protocol
"Orzel's whimsical take on quantum physics is a delight, and Emmy is the perfect Everyman, posing the questions we'd all like to ask about the intricacies of this most esoteric of subjects."
-- Jennifer Ouellette, author of The Physics of the Buffyverse
"My dog Kodi tells me that Chad Orzel explains physics with far more clarity and humor than I ever did, and that now she's just keeping me around for my opposable thumbs. Thanks a lot, Chad."
--John Scalzi, author of Old Man's War and The Rough Guide to the Universe
From the Cover:
When physics professor Chad Orzel went to the pound to adopt a dog, he never imagined Emmy: not just a friendly mutt, but a talking dog with an active interest in what her new owner did for a living and how it could work for her.
Soon Emmy was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chasing critters, getting treats, and going for walks. She peppered Chad with questions: could she use quantum tunneling to get through the neighbor's fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? Where's all the universes in which Chad dropped steak on the floor? And what about the bunnies made of cheese that ought to be appearing out of nothing in the backyard?
With great humor and clarity, Chad Orzel explains to Emmy, and to human readers, just what quantum mechanics is and how it works--and why, although you can't use it to catch critters or eat steak, it's still bizarre, amazing, and important to every dog and human.
Follow along as Chad and Emmy discuss the central elements of quantum theory, from particles that behave like waves and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to entanglement (“spooky action at a distance”) and virtual particles. Along the way, they discuss the history of the theory, like the experiments that discovered that electrons are waves and particles at the same time, and Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr's decades-long debate over what quantum theory really meant (Einstein may have been smarter, but Bohr was right more often).
Don't get caught looking less informed than Emmy. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog will show you the universe that lies beneath everyday reality, in all its randomness, uncertainty, and wonder.
“Forget Schrödinger’s Cat,” says Emmy, “Quantum physics is all about dogs.” And once you see quantum physics explained to a dog, you’ll never see the world the same way again.
How to Teach Physics to Your Dog is a book that explains quantum mechanics in terms that even a dog can understand-- in fact, the dog does some of the explaining.
Each chapter is built around a conversation between Chad Orzel, a physics professor at Union College, and his dog Emmy, the Queen of Niskayuna, in which Emmy seizes upon some aspect of quantum mechanics as a way to obtain doggy goals-- using her wave nature to surround bunnies, using quantum tunneling to pass through the fence to the neighbor's yard, using quantum teleportation to surprise squirrels in the back yard. Each conversation is followed by a more detailed explanation of the real phenomena at the heart of quantum physics (with occasional interjections from Emmy).
The book grew out of a couple of posts on Uncertain Principles, Chad's physics-oriented weblog. Bunnies Made of Cheese shows what happens when Emmy discovers quantum electro-dynamics, and Many Worlds, Many Treats finds her dealing with the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics.