In 1935, in what would become the most cited of all of his papers, Albert Einstein showed that quantum mechanics predicted such a correlation, which he dubbed "spooky action at a distance."
In that same year, Erwin Schrödinger christened this spooky correlation "entanglement." Yet its existence wasn't firmly established until 1964, in a groundbreaking paper by the Irish physicist John Bell. What happened during those years and what has happened since to refine the understanding of this phenomenon is the fascinating story told here.
We move from a coffee shop in Zurich, where Einstein and Max von Laue discuss the madness of quantum theory, to a bar in Brazil, as David Bohm and Richard Feynman chat over cervejas. We travel to the campuses of American universities - from J. Robert Oppenheimer's Berkeley to the Princeton of Einstein and Bohm to Bell's Stanford sabbatical - and we visit centers of European physics: Copenhagen, home to Bohr's famous institute, and Munich, where Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli picnic on cheese and heady discussions of electron orbits.
Drawing on the papers, letters, and memoirs of the 20th century's greatest physicists, Louisa Gilder both humanizes and dramatizes the story by employing their own words in imagined face-to-face dialogues. Here are Bohr and Einstein clashing, and Heisenberg and Pauli deciding which mysteries to pursue. We see Schrödinger and Louis de Broglie pave the way for Bell, whose work here is given a long-overdue revisiting. And with his characteristic matter-of-fact eloquence, Richard Feynman challenges his contemporaries to make something of this entanglement.
In this stunning debut, Gilder has found a wholly original way of bringing to life a tale of physics in progress.
©2008 Louisa Gilder; (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp
"An admirable, unexpected audio book, historically sound and seamlessly constructed, that transports those of us who do not understand quantum mechanics into the lives and thoughts of those who did." (George Dyson, author of Darwin Among the Machines)
Entanglement has vexed some of the greatest minds of the 20th century and this is what I loved about this book. Books on physics (other than text books) tend to either be histories focused on an individual or books focus on a subject matter. I really enjoyed how the author unraveled the subject over time through the individuals making the discoveries creating a interesting timeline. It did start a little slow but got very intersting later.
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This is truly a treat for someone like me who is just now learning the mysteries of the quantum field theories, and mechanics of it all. You see this book adds color and depth to the history of some of the most amazing discoveries ever. The drama that was related to this new field of science's beginings is so inspiring. I would hope that people would read this and be motivated toward this subject, because it seems that mankind in whole is becoming to social and superficial to care about the nature of particles.
I loved this book! thank you Louisa Gilder!
Louisa Gilder has written a book on the story of the discovery in physics that we live in a mysteriously entangled world... . The idea that has profound implications in all fields of study but importantly... including that taboo realm to 20th century science: the mind/spirit/material question that has enthralled humanity for millennia.
The author does not delve into the implications and throws some tonal cold water here and there on the idea... but still for me it was always part of the narrative.
In fact her book is about how very interesting personalities gradually over decades, faced the implications of the extra light speed "Entanglement" of particles that seemed to be inferred in the equations of Quantum Physics and how as time went on... John Bell and others described and suggested experiments to confirm what physics, by the authors story seemed to be willfully ignoring. He was met with resistance by some who didn't like the implications and intrigue by younger experimental physicists.
But this book is as much about the personalities behind the storied history of physics in the 20th century. Their interactions and creative competition, egos and interpersonal rivalries, playful even deeply affectionate regard are very well crafted.
Although their is some creative license that the author admits first thing to pull together from extensive reading of personal letters etc. how conversations very likely would have developed when no one was there but these second sources give a detailed if not completely quoted outline of what was indeed said.
In fact this is the strong point of the book... her familiarity with the issues at hand... that is the physics and the personalities involved and their often peculiar interactions on the historical stage... drawn together with conversations that may or may not have happened as written. One senses that her efforts are close to the truth and that she has little decernable prejudice, funny and wise, even touching.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book started at bit slowly and got better as it went. I wonder if the writing started at the middle and the first few chapters were added on later. Perhaps the reports of conversations from direct interviews are just much more compelling than the conversations recreated from letters and notes. I nearly gave up after the first couple of hours, but then it started getting better, and it continued getting better for hour after hour, ending very strong. This is well worth listening to. The tone and level seems great for a general audience and is still interesting for those who already know some of the physics and history.
The main problem with this book is it mixes real people and real situations with fictional accounts to the degree that one has no sense of what is fact and what isn't. It's like watching a movie to learn about history, what parts were real and what parts were artistic license? I find that my head is now possibly filled with inaccuracies about some of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, and that disturbs me.
Further, the book does go into some detail about quantum theory and other aspects of physics, but these, what I hope are facts, appear randomly and unexpectedly. Picture watching an entertaining movie that sporadically turns into a science lesson on a complicated subject. I found myself completely unprepared to absorb and contemplate the theories that were often delivered at high speed and in complex terms.
Ultimately, I read/listen to books for knowledge, but you can't trust the historical knowledge gained by this book, and the scientific knowledge is difficult to follow due to its sporadic nature. It may be more enjoyable for those who read/listen for entertainment, but who don't mind being hit with the occasional complex science equation.
I understand the need to break the book up into time periods, but then maintain the time periods. The book jumps to peoples deaths, then talks about what they are saying in the next chapter. Really makes the book hard to follow especially in audio form.
Parts of it were worth the time, i found the arguments between bor and einstein very funny.
Listening to how the ideas developed really gives you an insight into the personalities of the familiar characters in the world of Quantum Physicists and an appreciation that some of today's accepted dogma was highly controversial at the time it was proposed and split the community into believers and non-believers.
I really enjoyed the narration but I'm going to have to re-listen at least one more time as the gentle tones of the reader lulled me into sleep several times on my train commute and bedtime read.
I only get to listen to an audio book whilst walking the dog. I found the book so fascinating and insightful that I was finding reasons to walk the dog more often. I enjoy leaning about quantum physics,but am not a history person. However the text was so cleverly written that I became captivated with the conversational style and getting a sense of who these personalities were. If you are into quantum physics, then you have to listen to this book to appreciate the historical struggle to make it accessible to us all. The narrator, Walter Dixon, does a great job of reading this title. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Letting the rest of the world go by
A good historical survey of the early pioneers in quantum physics to "spooky action at a distance". I enjoyed this book but I had previously just read "Quantum" by Manjit Kumar who covers the early story slightly better. Later I ended up reading "How the Hippies Saved Physics" which covers the entanglement part better. The book is a good read especially if you haven't read the other two books.
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