Book Recommendation: Quantum Fuzz

Quantum Fuzz: The Strange True Makeup of Everything Around Us

by Michael S. Walker

(Prometheus, 420 pages, $28, February 14, 2017)

Recommended by Dr. Fred Bortz
Dr. Fred Bortz

For my science book reviews, see the Science Shelf Book Review Archive

Note: This recommendation is the copyrighted property of Alfred B. Bortz. Individuals may print single copies for their own use. For permission to publish or print multiple copies, please contact the author by e-mail.

coverLearn more about Quantum Fuzz at

Regular readers of my blog know that most of my recent posts are book reviews. In this case, that is not possible. It is impossible for me to view this book through an unbiased eye.

Full disclosure, I have known Mike Walker since our long-ago days in graduate school, studying Physics at Carnegie Mellon University (which was Carnegie Tech when we started). More recently, over a period of about three years, I had the delightful task of consulting with him on this book. I even suggested its title after looking at the necessarily fuzzy diagrams of quantum wave states he planned to include.

So rather than a review, this is a recommendation with a bit of a discussion of the book’s back story, to be followed by a blurb that is longer than the one attached to my name on the back of the book’s dust jacket.

Other reviewers will surely praise the readability and liveliness of Mike’s prose, and the way he brings clarity to a difficult and challenging topic. I note here that those qualities did not come easily. Mike applied an intense focus on both his subject matter and his readers’ need throughout the process. He knew when to accept my advice and when to follow his own clear vision. He was merciless in polishing his writing and finding and correcting the manuscript’s flaws.

When his editor challenged him to add content on topics about which he was not fully familiar, he pursued the research with a doggedness and thoroughness that matched what I have seen in his graduate-school and professional investigations. He may not have been an expert before starting to write those sections, but he certainly became one when it came time to put “pen to paper” in the electronic sense.

I was not surprised by the final product, which I know will find an audience of appreciative science readers. This leads me to the blurb.

When Mike Walker and I were graduate school classmates at Carnegie Mellon University, we came to appreciate this philosophy: When observations seem counter-intuitive, the proper response is to retrain our intuitions rather than to force the evidence to fit our previous way of thinking. I recommend that approach to readers of Quantum Fuzz. Guided by Mike’s careful, clear, and comfortable writing, you will discover a new way of understanding matter, energy, and the universe as a whole–and, not incidentally, some of the reasons why I have valued the author as a friend for five decades.

Fred Bortz is the author of the 2016 series of eight books for young readers, Exploring the Subatomic World (Cavendish Square).