The co-authors- NUS High students Liu Shi Yang, Lynn Chua (far right), and Valerio Scarani (centre)
with the book's illustrator, NUS physics honours student Haw Jing Yan.
High school students wanting to learn about the wonder and applications of quantum physics have a new book to turn to, thanks to CQT Principal Investigator Valerio Scarani and two students from NUS High School of Math & Science, Chua Lynn and Liu Shiyang. The three authors teamed up to write Six Quantum Pieces, a textbook published in September by World Scientific. Their collaboration featured in the 14 October 2010 edition of The Straits Times, one of Singapore’s English-language newspapers.
A pdf of the article "Still in school, but duo write physics book" that appeared in The Straits Times is available from the NUS Newshub here
Quantum mechanics is a hugely successful theory in physics, yet students rarely get the chance to study the subject in any depth until they reach university. True, it’s difficult to teach: quantum physics describes strange phenomena in nature such as light behaving as both a particle and a wave, and it does so with mathematics. But Valerio, who is also an Associate Professor at the Dept of Physics, NUS, hopes his new textbook will make the subject accessible to high school students (at least to those who choose to make some effort).
The 160-page book took the three authors about a year to write. Lynn and Shiyang got involved after meeting Valerio at local science events, and the project was supported by Tan Kian Chuan, Head of the Physics Department at their school.
Shiyang says she enjoyed working through the problems set in the book: "They allowed me to understand the quantum concepts behind ideas such as cryptography and teleportation". The book covers the applications of quantum mechanics in fields such as communication and computation as well as the basic physics.
Overall, writes Valerio in his foreword, the book offers “a direct jump into the ‘real stuff’ supported by some not too difficult mathematics”. Scattered throughout are cartoons, drawn by Haw Jing Yan, a physics Honours student at NUS, who cites the TV comedy series The Big Bang Theory as one of his inspirations for physics humour.
Both of Valerio’s co-authors say they want to study physics in the future. Lynn adds: “Although we have learned more about quantum physics through this project, there is still a lot more for us to learn before we are worthy of being called quantum physicists.” CQT wishes them the best with their studies, and wishes the same to all students who pick up a copy of this book to study quantum physics.
Six Quantum Pieces – A First Course in Quantum Physics