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Publisher's Summary

A brilliantly original and richly illuminating exploration of entanglement, the seemingly telepathic communication between two separated particles - one of the fundamental concepts of quantum physics.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark Davey
  • Evansville, IN United States
  • 06-03-10

A nice mix of theory and history.

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 02-14-10

Quite nice

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.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Tangle of Creative Insight

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Informative

I liked this book. It is very detailed as to what had happened. An overall very good story, about the age of quantum physics as it rushed in.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Insightful and fulfilling

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Trek Through The History of Quantum Physics

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.

Recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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BUTTERFLY EFFECT

In the mind of a three-year old, string can become tangled so string theory and The Age of Entanglement must have a relationship? Louisa Gilder does not include string theory in her book about entanglement but she suggests that matter and energy relate in ways that may make the butterfly effect a real as well as imagined truth.

Gilder cleverly delves into correspondence between physics legends like Einstein, Bohr, and later, John Bell and his contemporaries. Even though Bell is not Einstein’s and Bohr’s contemporary, Bell is a critical change agent in the ongoing argument begun by Einstein and Bohr about Quantum Theory. Bell changes quantum theory argument from a question of “if” to a question of “how” Quantum Theory is a valid construct of Physics.

Gilder reveals the humanness of the scientific community. She exposes the frustration and joy of discovery among scientists that think about the unknown and experiment with the unseen. The Age of Entanglement reveals the tensions that are created by strong beliefs and the utter devastation and human depression caused when beliefs are refuted by reproducible experiment.

Along the way Gilder explains entanglement; i.e. the idea that one minute quanta of existence affects other faraway elements of existence.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ralph
  • silver city, NM, United States
  • 08-12-13

Great overview -- leading to Bell and later develo

What made the experience of listening to The Age of Entanglement the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the construct: Imagined (but well researched) conversations between leaders in quantum thought, presented as though you are in the room. Clearly, the intention is not to be literal in the reconstruction of an event -- the discussion being imagined -- but to insert you into the stream of thought at that time.

The book spends quite a bit of time moving from pre-quantum history and discussions, through the early Copenhagen discussions, Einstein/Bohr conflicts and discussions, the EPR paper, and then to Bell. I will listen to the book again -- probably a couple of times -- to make sure I follow where Bell's inequality comes from and how it has been advanced... I suspect the book does a fine job of explaining it, but it will take a listening or two...

The book also presents a great personal look at David Bohm and his somewhat sad departure from the US to Brazil and then the UK...

Any additional comments?

The audio was really good, the reader was great, and it was possible to just sit, enjoy and thinbk.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Essential for me, you?

Would you listen to The Age of Entanglement again? Why?

I plan to listen to this book many times. Personally, I find Quantum Mech to be so different from my experience of life I find like to review the material as many times as necessary to increase my grasp.
Audiobooks are very different from print where re-reading can be very difficult. If you listen you can really focus your attention

What other book might you compare The Age of Entanglement to and why?

I do not know of another Science book that deals with the topic in this interpersonal, subjective fashion and this is the absolute core of the intersection of Physics and Philosophy.
I may try Amir Aczel's book as well

Have you listened to any of Walter Dixon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Walter Dixon is absolutely brilliant at this type of material and he is a preferred reader from my point of view. The implications of the theories arising in the development of Quantum Mechanics are so revolutionary they have the potential of overturning the outlook of our species as to what we see as the "real" World.
Right at the top may be the evolution of Quantum Computing

Any additional comments?

Quantum Mechanics can be expressed to a degree in language but the use is often unusual. Since terms like "complementarity" among many others are introduced during conversations between the originators as they developed their ideas over the years it is much easier to comprehend the sense in which these terms are utilized.
So much relies on the student achieving a suitable perspective from which to view the dimensions of reality described in such a fashion.
Then more technical approaches are somewhat easier to understand.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-27-12

Using historical development for understanding

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful