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Education and outreach

Education and outreach

Quantum woo: how to avoid mystical nonsense when doing physics outreach

15 Jun 2023 Hamish Johnston

Engaging with the public is often part of the job description for academic physicists and many undertake outreach activities such as writing popular science books, podcasting or even making music videos.

In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast I meet a condensed-matter physicist who has done all three and more. Philip Moriarty explains how he gets people excited about quantum mechanics while avoiding “quantum woo” – that heady and irrational mix of science and mysticism.

Based at the UK’s University of Nottingham, Moriarty chats about how his love of heavy-metal music inspired him to write a book that explains the principles of quantum mechanics using analogies from music. He also talks about a new physics-inspired music video that he has made called “Shut up and calculate”.

  • In Physics World, Moriarty has reviewed the book Quantum Bullsh*t: How to Ruin Your Life with Advice from Quantum Physics by Chris Ferrie; and you can read our review of Moriarty’s book When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11: Or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal
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