4 out of 4 stars
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Every bit of Timewise by Robert Leet echoes science in some form – physics, botany, engineering, math and the like or games of skill and chance like chess and poker. It is a frame narrative on science, by means of which, the author expounds on his profound knowledge in Physics and Quantum Physics to the world. The book is the autobiography of a fictional character named Ron Larsen. Ron is an orphan who is raised in foster homes. By age 14, he becomes a good chess player. He meets a charming lady, Regina Russo at Mill Falls Commons in Massachusetts where he plays chess during weekends. Regina is a maven teacher of Physics and Ron instantly falls in love with her because she is both beautiful, dignified and gentle apart from being extremely brilliant. A close, personal association is formed between the two, Regina becoming Ron’s mentor and Physics teacher. She teaches Ron informally during their various meetings. It is through the person of Regina, that the author makes an exposition of his deep knowledge of Quantum Physics to readers.
There isn’t much of a plot or story in this book. Note carefully that when I say this I don’t mean that there is no story at all – there is, but its purpose is apparently to keep the reading lively and interesting rather than as a story in its own right! The book is long and without it, might read like a series of discourses on advanced Quantum Physics delivered by Regina to Ron. As a result, though interesting, the reading would be so “heavy” that only a few physics die-hards would honestly enjoy reading it!
In the book, Regina teaches Ron several things she is an expert at and quite often, using some brilliant explanation and/or extremely lucid, illustrative examples. One explanation that I liked a lot is about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (Chapter 5, p.61). According to the Uncertainty Principle (of Quantum Physics), it is not possible to know precisely where a particle is located and what its momentum are, at the same time. Only one or the other can be precisely known. Why? Because anything that takes shorter than 10 raised to power -44 seconds (derived from Planck’s constant and also known as a Planck Interval) cannot be measured at all – or, in other words, we are blocked out of knowing particle state information during a Planck Interval. This is a profound conclusion and hence the ‘uncertainty’ in the Uncertainty Principle. However, Regina’s hard work not being apparent, the entire exercise may look deceptively easy to readers. The Planck Interval leads on to another powerful conclusion expressed in the book as “awareness creates time” that first appears on p. 9 and later, at other places in the book. Turning to examples, one lovely instance is found on p.62. It is used to illustrate the Uncertainty Principle. A traffic cop patrols a school zone on a road on which the speed limit is 50 mph except for the school zone itself where it is 20 mph. Overspeeding cars would be easily detected by an ordinary cop. However, if the cop belongs to the quantum world, he/ she would be in great difficulty to perform like his/her ordinary counterpart as he/ she may know that a speeding car is (i) in the school zone but not its speed, or (ii) know its speed but not whether it is in the school zone.
One may need years of study before arriving at the priceless Physics wisdom written in the book, but readers get it for just the price (of this book), thanks to the transcendent brilliance of Regina!! I believe I personally gained a clear understanding of the principle of superposition from the explanation of wave interference given in Chapter 5 (pp. 63-70).
The author has a graceful, pithy and well-paced writing style that speaks highly of his erudition and lifestyle. His language is clear and unambiguous. Emotions are kept under control so that while being pleasant to read, the reader is never exposed to peaks of emotion – either elating or depressing. The parting between Ron and Cheryl Liona (at the end of Chapter 3) is an example. Ron and Cheryl share a close relationship for a period and need to part suddenly when Cheryl decides to pursue higher studies at Tufts University. Being his first love relationship, Ron’s pain, was presumably deep but the author doesn't allow a reader’s attention to get disturbed by it by gently glossing over the incident. The same is the case when Regina leaves him forever after accidental exposure to radiation that poisons her (Chapter 27). Just what one should expect from a scientific author, I believe!
I give the book a 4 out of 4 stars rating as its content is very useful and relevant to students of modern Physics. Besides, it is very well written. It appears professionally edited and I could find just a few major errors in the book, the others being minor. Those who are creative, young at heart (regardless of physical age), have an academic bent of mind, or like to keep learning all their lives will definitely enjoy this book. It is therefore recommended for teachers, researchers, engineers, IT employees, thinkers, philosophers, movie makers and futurists, particularly those who are drawn to, or have a background in modern Physics and/or the STEM disciplines. Junior STEM students, who are still scanning the horizons for what may be the best areas to major in, are another category of readers whom I believe, will love this book. And almost certainly, this book is a MUST AVOID for the non-academic and those interested in other book genres like C/T/M/H, being devoid of action, drama, intrigue, deep romance etc. The anti-STEM (particularly anti-physics) community should strictly avoid it too, for reasons that I believe are obvious.
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