I haven’t been the most avid of readers in the past few years. My compulsion for reading has been focused primarily on gaining a wider knowledge of religious cults and denominations and, as a result, reading in other fields has widely suffered.
So here I am, reading a book which Brian Cox co-authored along with Jeff Forshaw. Brian Cox, one of the latest scientists to become something of a celebrity in the UK, is not what I’d call someone that I warm to especially. All too often I find him commenting sarcastically on the foolishness of religious folk whenever he’s given a platform to speak his mind on BBC Radio Four.
Having said that, I was intrigued to see that this book was one of the top selling non-fiction paperbacks in WHSmiths. I studied Physics to A-level standard at school on the WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee) syllabus through the medium of welsh. I found the qualification’s content quite dry; not very inspiring and, quite difficult to follow. Like with anything at school, there are some things that you must simply accept as true without any proof as to why this is the case. Some of you might say that I should have done some outside reading but it’s difficult, when you are studying through the medium of Welsh, to find books that aren’t written in English on the matter.
My biggest struggle was with Young’s double slit experiment. Why does water defract (diffreithio in the native tongue) when it goes through the slit at all? I couldn’t envisage how that is possible and either my physics teacher was unable to explain the theory or I was too quiet to enquire.
Anyway, I’m reading this book and it seems to address the phenomena on the quantum level. The book thus far has dedicated its first four chapters mainly to this, giving insight to the history of quantum theory and its relatively recent adoption. From what my limited understanding can deduce thus far, the interference pattern seen in the two slit experiment caused by waves can be observed when you fire particles through slits also. What is interesting is that it is said that this interference pattern can also be observed if only one particle passes through the slits at one time, suggesting that the particle somehow may be interfering with itself.
I won’t go into more detail because at the moment, I haven’t read far enough to get a good grasp of the implications of this neither the theory that proves it. I will say that it is an enjoyable read so far and it’s written in a style that isn’t stuffy and informal. It’s definitely worth a look if you have an interest but, in spite of its relaxed tone, it might be a little two in-depth for someone who hasn’t got patience to re-read sections that are harder to grasp.