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Wizard of Quarks, The: A Fantasy of Particle Physics

Gilmore, Robert
Copernicus Books, New York

Dorothy's first day of her visit to the city starts uneventfully enough, on a subway ride with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. But then there is a lurch - and not just your ordinary everyday sort of lurch. The train suddenly shoots forward, the track and tunnel walls seem to smooth out, then fall away, and before she knows it, Dorothy feels as if she is plummeting, faster and faster . . . until she is deposited, quite nicely thank you, in a marvelous landscape of flowers, meadows, lawns, and trees. So begins Robert Gilmore's latest physics fantasy. In the tradition of his best-selling Alice in Quantumland, a recasting of Lewis Carroll's Alice in the service of teaching quantum mechanics, The Wizard of Quarks takes L. Frank Baum's classic tale of a little girl from Kansas and transforms it into a description of the practically indescribable world of subatomic particles. Dorothy's encounters with the Witch of Mass, the Witch of Charge, the Witch of Color, and the Weak Witch will help readers grasp the maddeningly elusive concepts that support the foundations of modern physics. Whether he is describing Planck's Constant, superposition, tunneling, or quarks and leptons, Gilmore is a master at making the difficult concepts of subatomic particles comprehensible and entertaining.

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