Fantastic Realities: 49 Mind Journeys and a Trip to Stockholm

Fantastic Realities is an adult book. Much of it consists of issues of the "Reference Frame" column that Professor Wilczek, 2004 Nobel laureate in physics, writes for his colleagues in Physics Today. In writing for that audience, Wilczek addresses fellow scientists who are expected to be familiar with "ordinary" physics, but not his specialty, quantum chromodynamics. Few chemists know much about this field, but its intellectual appeal is undeniable, as it deals with some of the ultimate "why" questions - What is the underlying structure of nature? What are nature's fundamental units, and why do they differ so greatly from those of human experience? Why are fields more fundamental than particles? and Why are all electrons the same? The author cannot rely on the fact that his readers remember what he had written in previous months, so there is some repetition. I found this helpful; reading about the same mind-boggling ideas, presented from different viewpoints helped me to at least get the gist of what he is talking about. From the way he writes and speaks (you can hear an podcast of an interview of the author and his wife, Betsy Devine, at, this is a guy who would be the perfect seatmate on a long plane trip. He has a great sense humor and the book includes both some of Wilczek's poetry and Betsy's description of the phone call from Stockholm and her journal of the trip to the Prize ceremony.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Frank Wilczek

Publication Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2006