New Book Aims to Explain Quantum Mechanics with Heavy Metal Music


I find science fascinating. Also, I was a miserable science student in school. No matter how hard I studied, I just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around some of the more sophisticated scientific principles. I mean, I get “What goes up must come down,” “The sun rises in the east and sets in the west,” and “Sex makes babies,” but beyond it that becomes worse than a foreign language to me — it becomes a foreign language in a completely different alphabet. I just never got the hang of it.

Had When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11, or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal existed when I was a student, though, it’s entirely possible that my level of comprehension would have skyrocketed. Written by Philip Moriarty, a professors at the University of Nottingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy, and illustrated by Pete McPartlan, the book seeks to drawl parallels between extreme music and what the author calls “the science of the smaller than small.” Explains Moriarty:

“I’ve always been struck by the number of heavy metal t-shirts that I saw in the classes attending the lectures I give. A Venn diagram of heavy metal fans and physicists would have a fairly large overlap, I think. More seriously, music is all about the creation and control of (sound) waves and quantum physics is fundamentally a theory of waves. There are therefore natural links between music and quantum physics. Heavy metal just takes those links to the next level or, if you will, turns the dials up to 11.”

I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet (duh — I just found out about it like twenty minutes ago), but it certainly seems interesting, and you have to appreciate Moriarty’s contribution to demolishing the stereotype that metal is a “lesser art form.”

You can watch some videos pertaining to the book below. There are more here. Purchase a copy here.

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