• Absolutely Small

  • How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World
  • By: Michael D. Fayer
  • Narrated by: Scott Peterson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 23-11-10
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
  • 3 out of 5 stars 3.0 (20 ratings)


Our intuition about how things should behave is usually right in the everyday world. We see the baseball soar in the air, arc, drop, and lie stationary on the ground. Through data gathered by our senses and basic knowledge of the laws of classical mechanics, the motion of a ball makes perfect sense.But enter the world of the tiniest particles on earth—the motion of electrons, the shapes of molecules—and everything we think we know about the world radically changes. To understand what’s really happening in the world around us, to comprehend the mysterious, counterintuitive science of the small, we must take a quantum theory view of nature. Like no other book before it, Absolutely Small makes the inherently challenging field of quantum theory understandable to nonscientists, without oversimplifying and without bogging down in complicated math.
Written by an award-winning professor at Stanford University, the book uses clear explanations and real-world examples instead of dense equations to help you understand:

Why strawberries are red and blueberries are blue
How particles can change from “mixed states” to “pure states” based solely on observation
How a single photon can be in two places at the same time
Why quantum matter sometimes acts like particles, and other times like waves
Why a piece of metal will glow red when it is hot, and turn blue when it’s even hotter
What makes salt dissolve in water, while oil does not, and much more
In the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Lewis Thomas, but without the rigorous mathematical requirements, Absolutely Small demystifies the fascinating realm of quantum physics and chemistry, complete with compelling accounts of the scientists and experiments that helped form our current understanding of quantum matter.
©2010 Michael D. Fayer (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp
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Critic reviews

“There are a few books that I always keep near at hand, and constantly come back to. The Feynman Lectures on Physics and Dirac’s classic textbook on quantum mechanics are among them. Michael Fayer’s wonderful new book, Absolutely Small, is about to join them. Whether you are a scientist or just curious about how the world works, this is the book for you.” (Leonard Susskind, Professor of Physics, Stanford University; author of The Black Hole War: My Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics )
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By caroline on 26-09-12

Absolutely Useless

I couldn`t be more disappointed with this recording. I was excited when I found it because I have a hungry interest in quantum theory. It is an exciting field - but I am a complete novice. This book was promoted as a clear, accessible explanation - willingness to take time and trouble to think through what was being delivered was made clear , but through the emphasis being that it does not need mathematical understanding.

I defy anybody to find this spoken book accessible. Even with a good starting knowledge you are always at disadvantage because they continually refer to charts in the hard copy - they mention a fact and then say as shown in fig.xxx and then continue to discuss the point in relation to the chart that you can`t see!

In addition the man`s ability to express the subject in a way that is accessible is zero. I just listened to a point which he then goes on to say `see figure(s) 7.2, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 6.4. He quite simply is incapable of presenting information in a manner that informs anyone who is not already qualified. That is ok, except that the whole promotion of the audible book and the sample reading is all dedicated to saying how accessible it is.

Unless you have a physics degree don`t touch it ... and even if you have remember you will repeatedly be given an argument that refers to a chart or picture in the hard copy in order to expand the point - so without the hard copy you are left flaying. This experience has left me cynical about the whole idea of using Audible and relying on promotion of books and samples to make a buying decisions. Seems got me it is only reliable for storybooks.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Mr. Paul Wilde on 21-01-13

Not about quantum theory & hard to follow

Really disappointed in this book, expected it to be more quantum physics but the vast majority of it talks about molecules and their shapes.Really boring subject matter. All the way through it refers to diagrams in the book as this is a *audiobook* there are no diagrams so it's pointless as an audiobook.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Chris on 21-12-10

No math - wrong

Figures and equations don't work in Audiobooks generally. Sometimes the producers will try to make them work with either handouts (hard to read while driving) or detailed descriptions. In this case they did not even try - just a dude reading equations off to you - very frustrating. Chapters 1-4 were good and relatively math free. After that the author gives up on his promise to "keep out the math" and begins inserting equations to "prove his point." I don't need the math to convince me and the narrative is lost with the interruptions of the math.

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18 of 20 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Think B4 Eating on 27-12-10

This is more text book than listening material

While the author obviously knows his stuff, he was not able to translate it into a good listening book for non-physicists. The constant references to diagrams that you have to download and have handy while listening was incredibly bothersome. I was hoping for a book similar to "Particle Physics - A Very Short Introduction" by Frank Close. But the author of this book provides very few real-world examples and sticks to pure theory and minutia. I thought way too much time was spent explaining the spins of electrons. Unless real-world implications are discussed, it quickly becomes very dry and boring.

Additionally, the narrator was quite dull. Admittedly, he was probably bored with the material, too.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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