Gershon Kurizki and Goren Gordon (authors), Etzion Goel (illustrator)
Oxford University Press
2020 | 288pp | £25
ISBN 9780198787464

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An image showing the book cover of Quantum matrix

There is much room to bask in wonder when fiction and quantum mechanics meet. In Gershon Kurizki and Goren Gordon’s, The Quantum Matrix, with illustrations by Etzion Goel, imagination and science combine to tell a story that delicately balances fantasy and fact.

The book follows the adventures of Henry Bar, a physicist clad in a quantum suit that enables him to perform superheroic feats as he applies physics concepts to outsmart his opponent, Eve. The name Henry Bar – a nudge to Dirac’s constant h-bar (ħ) representing the quantisation of angular momentum – is one of the many ways that science and history are creatively woven into the narrative.

The book segues from Henry Bar’s fantastic quests then into the historical and mathematical description of the underlying physics supporting the protagonist’s many feats. The book doesn’t stop at presenting what has been studied and what is upheld at present, it also creatively imagines what could possibly be the future of quantum mechanics.

Although the authors embed quantum mechanics concepts into each chapter, The Quantum Matrix alienates neither expert nor beginner. The book doesn’t shy away from applying methods of classic literature and philosophy, presenting some concepts in original poetry. The authors even find parallels between quantum mechanics and the works of William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll. The illustrations capture the nostalgia of reading beloved childhood comic strips, although always with a scientific basis.

While the premise of ‘illustrated tale meets science’ is a tried and tested formula, The Quantum Matrix distinguishes itself as a ‘choose your own adventure’ in terms of how readers navigate through its pages. A reading voyage may be taken solely for its creative route into graphics and poetry, or for its mathematical description in the appendices, or even a linear method to combine both – readers can separately indulge on fact and fiction.

But even as reading The Quantum Matrix can be taken in different ways through its twists and intersections, the fork in the road ultimately leads to a similar destination: a renewed miraculous awe and a vast wonder for what was, is and could be.