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In 1939, Richard Feynman, a brilliant graduate of MIT, arrived in John Wheeler's Princeton office to report for duty as his teaching assistant. A lifelong friendship and enormously productive collaboration was born, despite sharp differences in personality. The soft-spoken Wheeler, though conservative in appearance, was a raging nonconformist full of wild ideas about the universe. The boisterous Feynman was a cautious physicist who believed only what could be tested. Yet they were complementary spirits.
Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments.
Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world's largest scientific endeavors.
From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world. Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half alive and half dead at the same time?
Does time exist? What is infinity? Why do mirrors reverse left and right but not up and down? In this scintillating collection, Holt explores the human mind, the cosmos, and the thinkers who’ve tried to encompass the latter with the former. With his trademark clarity and humor, Holt probes the mysteries of quantum mechanics, the quest for the foundations of mathematics, and the nature of logic and truth. Along the way, he offers intimate biographical sketches of celebrated and neglected thinkers, from the physicist Emmy Noether to the computing pioneer Alan Turing and the discoverer of fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot.
In 1942, a team at the University of Chicago achieved what no one had before: a nuclear chain reaction. At the forefront of this breakthrough stood Enrico Fermi. Straddling the ages of classical physics and quantum mechanics, equally at ease with theory and experiment, Fermi truly was the last man who knew everything - at least about physics. But he was also a complex figure who was a part of both the Italian Fascist Party and the Manhattan Project, and a less-than-ideal father and husband who nevertheless remained one of history's greatest mentors.
In 1939, Richard Feynman, a brilliant graduate of MIT, arrived in John Wheeler's Princeton office to report for duty as his teaching assistant. A lifelong friendship and enormously productive collaboration was born, despite sharp differences in personality. The soft-spoken Wheeler, though conservative in appearance, was a raging nonconformist full of wild ideas about the universe. The boisterous Feynman was a cautious physicist who believed only what could be tested. Yet they were complementary spirits.
Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments.
Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world's largest scientific endeavors.
From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world. Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half alive and half dead at the same time?
Does time exist? What is infinity? Why do mirrors reverse left and right but not up and down? In this scintillating collection, Holt explores the human mind, the cosmos, and the thinkers who’ve tried to encompass the latter with the former. With his trademark clarity and humor, Holt probes the mysteries of quantum mechanics, the quest for the foundations of mathematics, and the nature of logic and truth. Along the way, he offers intimate biographical sketches of celebrated and neglected thinkers, from the physicist Emmy Noether to the computing pioneer Alan Turing and the discoverer of fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot.
In 1942, a team at the University of Chicago achieved what no one had before: a nuclear chain reaction. At the forefront of this breakthrough stood Enrico Fermi. Straddling the ages of classical physics and quantum mechanics, equally at ease with theory and experiment, Fermi truly was the last man who knew everything - at least about physics. But he was also a complex figure who was a part of both the Italian Fascist Party and the Manhattan Project, and a less-than-ideal father and husband who nevertheless remained one of history's greatest mentors.
Bertrand Russell wrote that mathematics can exalt "as surely as poetry". This is especially true of one equation: ei(pi) + 1 = 0, the brainchild of Leonhard Euler, the Mozart of mathematics. More than two centuries after Euler's death, it is still regarded as a conceptual diamond of unsurpassed beauty. Called Euler's identity, or God's equation, it includes just five numbers but represents an astonishing revelation of hidden connections.
Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you aren’t shocked by quantum theory, you don’t really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves. In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution.
Warped Passages is an altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early 20th-century physics to the razor's edge of modern scientific theory. One of the world's leading theoretical physicists, Lisa Randall provides astonishing scientific possibilities that, until recently, were restricted to the realm of science fiction. Unraveling the twisted threads of the most current debates on relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, she explores some of the most fundamental questions posed by Nature.
Paul Dirac was among the great scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of the discoverers of quantum mechanics, the most revolutionary theory of the past century, his contributions had a unique insight, eloquence, clarity, and mathematical power. His prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics.
For more than 30 years, Richard P. Feynman's three-volume Lectures on Physics has been known worldwide as the classic resource for students and professionals alike. Ranging from the most basic principles of Newtonian physics through such formidable theories as Einstein's general relativity, superconductivity, and quantum mechanics, Feynman's lectures stand as a monument of clear exposition and deep insight.
From the author of the national best seller Chaos comes an outstanding biography of one of the most dazzling and flamboyant scientists of the 20th century that "not only paints a highly attractive portrait of Feynman but also . . . makes for a stimulating adventure in the annals of science." ( The New York Times).
Enrico Fermi is unquestionably among the greats of the world's physicists, the most famous Italian scientist since Galileo. Called "the Pope" by his peers, he was regarded as infallible in his instincts and research. His discoveries changed our world; they led to weapons of mass destruction and conversely to life-saving medical interventions. This unassuming man struggled with issues relevant today, such as the threat of nuclear annihilation and the relationship of science to politics.
In Significant Figures, acclaimed mathematician Ian Stewart introduces the visionaries of mathematics throughout history. Delving into the lives of twenty-five great mathematicians, Stewart examines the roles they played in creating, inventing, and discovering the mathematics we use today. Through these short biographies, we get acquainted with the history of mathematics.
What are time and space made of? Where does matter come from? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his whole life exploring these questions and pushing the boundaries of what we know. Here he explains how our image of the world has changed over the last few dozen centuries.
"It doesn't take an Einstein to understand modern physics," says Professor Wolfson at the outset of these 24 lectures on what may be the most important subjects in the universe: relativity and quantum physics. Both have reputations for complexity. But the basic ideas behind them are, in fact, simple and comprehensible by anyone. These dynamic and illuminating lectures begin with a brief overview of theories of physical reality starting with Aristotle and culminating in Newtonian or "classical" physics.
In lyric, accessible prose, Carlo Rovelli invites us to consider questions about the nature of time that continue to puzzle physicists and philosophers alike. For most listeners, this is unfamiliar terrain. We all experience time, but the more scientists learn about it, the more mysterious it appears. We think of it as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down these assumptions one by one, revealing a strange universe where, at the most fundamental level, time disappears.
These 12 half-hour lectures are about what Einstein got wrong. He may have kindled a scientific revolution with his famous theory of relativity and his proof that atoms and light quanta exist, but he balked at accepting the most startling implications of these theories - such as the existence of black holes, the big bang, gravity waves, and mind-bendingly strange phenomena in the quantum realm. This course by research physicist Dan Hooper of the University of Chicago assumes no background in science and uses very little math.
Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger were friends and comrades-in-arms against what they considered the most preposterous aspects of quantum physics: its indeterminacy. Einstein famously quipped that God does not play dice with the universe, and Schrödinger is equally well known for his thought experiment about the cat in the box who ends up "spread out" in a probabilistic state, neither wholly alive nor wholly dead. Both of these famous images arose from these two men's dissatisfaction with quantum weirdness and with their assertion that underneath it all, there must be some essentially deterministic world. Even though it was Einstein's own theories that made quantum mechanics possible, both he and Schrödinger could not bear the idea that the universe was, at its most fundamental level, random.
As the Second World War raged, both men struggled to produce a theory that would describe in full the universe's ultimate design, first as collaborators, then as competitors. They both ultimately failed in their search for a grand unified theory - not only because quantum mechanics is true but because Einstein and Schrödinger were also missing a key component: of the four forces we recognize today (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong force), only gravity and electromagnetism were known at the time.
Despite their failures, much of modern physics remains focused on the search for a grand unified theory. As Halpern explains, the recent discovery of the Higgs boson makes the standard model - the closest thing we have to a unified theory - nearly complete. And while Einstein and Schrödinger tried and failed to explain everything in the cosmos through pure geometry, the development of string theory has, in its own quantum way, brought this idea back into vogue. As in so many things, even when he was wrong, Einstein couldn't help but be right.
This was probably the 2nd best book on physics I've listened to. Quantum by Manjit Kumar is still the best. Overall engaging story. Some complicated physics but more about the men, their ideas, and their mistakes.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Half of the audiobook is devoted to the foundations of quantum theory up through EPR, then the other half is devoted to the two physicists' searches for a unified theory of everything, which goes nowhere, so while it's an interesting history, it's of limited use if trying to gain insight into quantum theory. The first half on quantum theory is well put together though and offers some useful explanations for relativity and the equations of quantum theory without going that much into the math. The relationships of the two physicists with their lovers are also a focus of the book.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
this is a great book. it perfectly blends history with science. it's completely devoid of any political slant and science funding issues. the book reads like a novel, one to be read many times.
I initially thought that I was about to be mired in just another historical retelling Einstein's march to wards unification. However I was greatly delighted to find much more detail about the series that both he and Schrodinger wrestled with throughout their lives. This is a very worthwhile read for anyone who is really serious about the fundamental elements of early physics.
Stuff you would have never guessed about these almost mythical figures is talked about in this book and brings them crashing back down to human being status. They were just like us, flaws and all, so perhaps there is greatness in us all.
I would have liked it if there was more science in the book. But it is very well written and very well read.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful