Curious Parents

With These Books, It's Never Too Early To Teach A Baby Quantum Physics

When you were learning your ABC's, the "Q" probably didn't stand for "quantum physics." But in the children's book series by Chris Ferrie it sure does. Start 'em young, right?

The Duck Says "Quark"

Sure, finding out that the cow says "moo" is an undeniably riveting literary adventure, but maybe it's just not doing it for your kid. Try a quantum read instead. If that sounds like a joke, it's because the idea for a kids' book on the subject started as one. Chris Ferrie is the author of "Quantum Physics for Babies," and he's the real deal: He's a PhD mathematician and physicist with an extensive resume. In 2013, Ferrie made a prop nerdy baby book bearing the title (probably for a goofy Instagram shot, he recalls on his blog). The joke gained real encouragement from his family and friends, and Ferrie's literary career (though still a hobby) broke ground.

In 2015, Ferrie caught wind that his maybe-a-joke-but-maybe-not baby book netted a new fan: Mark Zuckerberg. The billionaire posted an Instagram showing himself and wife Priscilla Chan reading "Quantum Physics for Babies" to their daughter Max (albeit also as a joke). Since then, Ferrie has written more books in his Baby University series: "Rocket Science for Babies," "General Relativity for Babies," "Newtonian Physics for Babies," "Optical Physics for Babies," and "Quantum Entanglement for Babies." You know, all the basic baby stuff.

Baby's First Quantum Theory

These books are exactly what they sound like: material that explains super-heady, hard science stuff in terms even a baby could (maybe, kinda) understand. Each book in the series starts with the sentence "This is a ball" and the same picture. From there, the book expands on the concept from the title. For example, "General Relativity for Babies" goes on to the next sentence: "This ball has mass."

And while it's hilarious to imagine a baby's first word being "superposition," expecting infants to get a handle on quantum theory isn't really the point. Ferrie tells NPR that we're not surrounded by the animals depicted in children's books as much as we are math and science. Not as cute or furry, but it makes sense. "We know toddlers aren't going to pick up the exact high-level concepts we're explaining," Kelly Barrales-Saylor, Ferrie's editor, tells NPR. "We're trying to introduce the small seeds of information meant for them to remember years later." While babies might not understand, now could be your chance to really grasp rocket science. If it's still unclear, just wait a few years and ask your kid to explain it.

4 Crazy Things About Quantum Physics

Key Facts In This Video

  1. In quantum physics, electrons remain in orbitals, which have several shapes and sizes. 00:37

  2. Wave-particle duality refers to the fact that light can behave as if it's made up of particles as well as waves. 01:19

  3. In quantum physics, "measuring" a particle's position might be what made the position appear in the first place. 03:06

Written by Joanie Faletto July 17, 2017

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