Book Review: QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

1. Synopsis

Richard Feynman is well-known for his teaching style and legendary contribution to popular science. His books are insightful and highly enjoyable.

This book is based on three lectures that Richard Feynman gave on Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), the Strange Theory of Light and Matter, which won him the Nobel Prize for physics in 1965 along with two colleagues Julian Schwinger and Shin’ichirō Tomonaga.

Quantum mechanics is a fascinating yet highly unintuitive topic, and it takes the unique pedagogical skills that Feynman is most famous for to popularize it.

The subject of quantum mechanics is not highly relevant to our everyday activities. Still, it has gained wide interest because of Quantum Computing machines’ magnificent strides in the last couple of years.

Some of these machines are now commercialised and can perform optimization problems called Quantum Annealing.

2. Content

The book is divided into four chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Photons – Particles of Light

Chapter 3: Electrons and Their Interactions

Chapter 4: Loose Ends

  • In the first chapter of the book, the author provides an introduction to the physics of light. Most interestingly, he gives an in-depth analysis of the nature of the theory of Quantum Mechanics, a highly controversial topic even today. He also discusses in the chapter the tools, mathematical and otherwise, and a few physics concepts, such as the nature of light and reflection, that will be very useful for understanding how QED works.
  • The second part of the book talks exclusively about light, its nature, properties, and behaviour under various conditions. Richard Feynman brilliantly describes the reflection of light in a mirror, the double split experiment, and how to explain and predict the behaviour of photons in these experiments and others.
  • The third part of the book is the most “magical”. This is where the author addresses the bizarre nature of the photon-electron interactions.
  • In the fourth and final chapter, Feynman talks about two topics. The first topic is about what’s missing in the theory of QED. The second topic concerns quarks, neutrinos, gluons, and other elementary particles of the subatomic world and scientists’ strange methods of calculating and explaining their interactions.


  • Quantum Electrodynamics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • The Nature of Quantum Mechanics
  • Reflection, Diffraction of Light
  • Double Split Experiment
  • Wave-Particle Duality
  • Randomness in Quantum Mechanics
  • Nature of Light, Quantum Fluctuations
  • Photons, Electrons, and Quarks
  • Probability in Quantum Mechanics

3. Accessibility

The audience for “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” by Richard Feynman is mainly people interested in physics, particularly quantum mechanics. The book is written in a way that is accessible to non-experts, so it is suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating subject.

However, it should be noted that the book does require a basic understanding of physics and mathematics. While Feynman uses analogies and simple language to explain the concepts, some complex mathematical equations and ideas may be complicated for those without a background in physics to grasp fully.

4. Target Audience

Overall, “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” is an excellent read for anyone curious about the universe’s fundamental workings and who wants to learn more about the behaviour of particles at the smallest scale.

5. Conclusion

“QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” by Richard Feynman is considered a great read. Feynman was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and a brilliant communicator, and this book is his attempt to explain quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is a fundamental theory in physics that describes the behaviour of light and matter at the atomic and subatomic level, in a way that is accessible to a lay audience.

The author’s writing style is conversational, and Feynman uses analogies and simple language to help readers understand the complex concepts of QED. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an enjoyable and enlightening one. It has been praised for its clarity and ability to make a complex subject understandable to non-experts.

If you’re interested in physics and want to learn more about quantum mechanics and the behaviour of particles at the smallest scale, “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” is worth reading.

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