August 15, 2018, by Lindsay Brooke

Banging the drum for quantum physics! 

‘When the Uncertainty Principle goes to 11’ or ‘How to explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal’ 

Yes, a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham, has published a new book which provides an ‘entertaining’, ‘enlightening’ and ‘metal-sci’ view into the mysterious and mind bending world of Quantum Physics!

Philip Moriarty in the School of Physics and Astronomy, says chugging guitars, choked cymbals, artificial harmonics and mosh pits each have their own parallels in the physics of the ultra-small and these links have not had the much-needed attention they deserve.  

Quantum Physics – or as Prof Moriarty describes it, the science of the smaller than small – is, he agrees, conceptually very challenging. So, what better way for a physicist to explain the inexplainable than by relating it to his other great passion – heavy metal. 

Professor Moriarty explains how the link between quantum physics and heavy metal works: “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.”

The key motivation for his new book – When the Uncertainty Principle goes to 11 – or How to explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal – is to bring the beauty of quantum physics to a wider audience by the medium of metal and he’s done that in this book which is littered with entertaining illustrations by Pete McPartlan. 

This musical introduction to modern physics has been championed by fellow scientists. A review in Science by Professor David Reilly an expert in Quantum Nanoscience at the University of Sydney, says: “the subculture of heavy metal music now provides an opportunity to engage with, and comprehend, fundamental physics.” 

When the Uncertainty Principle goes to 11 – or How to explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal – is available on Amazon. 

“It will bring a new beauty to your favourite songs and arm you with fresh concepts to explain some of the most counter-intuitive of scientific ideas.” David Domminney-Fowler, guitarist with the Australian Pink Floyd Show. 


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