• The Quantum Labyrinth

  • How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality
  • By: Paul Halpern
  • Narrated by: Brian Troxell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-17-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (154 ratings)

Regular price: $29.65

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Publisher's Summary

The story of the unlikely friendship between the two physicists who fundamentally recast the notion of time and history

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.

Their collaboration led to a complete rethinking of the nature of time and reality. It enabled Feynman to show how quantum reality is a combination of alternative, contradictory possibilities and inspired Wheeler to develop his landmark concept of wormholes, portals to the future and past. Together, Feynman and Wheeler made sure that quantum physics would never be the same again.

©2017 Paul Halpern (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Readers soon see that Feynman achieved his breakthroughs in physics by collaborating with his mentor, John Wheeler.... With the same clarity that has attracted readers to Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat and his other books of popular science, Halpern retraces the way this unlikely pair smashed traditional understandings of time...a compelling reminder that even the most triumphant science comes from vulnerable humans." ( Booklist)
"Go to any physics meeting and ask each person there for their list of the top ten most influential physicists of the 20th century. Lots of different names will appear, but everybody will name Einstein (of course!). Nearly all will mention Feynman and Wheeler, too. After [listening to] Halpern's thought-provoking book, you'll understand why." (Paul J. Nahin, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at University of New Hampshire and author of In Praise of Simple Physics)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A biography of two mad geniuses

This is a book about John Wheeler and his apprentice and equally extraordinary physicist Richard Feynman. I story of friendship, escapades, and truly world changing discoveries in physics that span over half a century.

Always a Richard Feynman fan for his extravagance and crazy ideas, little did I know that his mentor John Archibald Wheeler was the crazy one when it came to ideas. His students mentioned throughout the book list a who's who in the particle physics world.

Although this book focuses on the two. It is a snippet of history post Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein and the discovery of the quantum world. The new comers can be considered the second generation of particle physicists and the discovery of QED, the relevance of the Arrow of Time, the theories they developed trying to understand particle physics beyond the observable, and the barriers to the unknown.

The is mostly a story of people, not maths and equations, something I always liked. I'm sure books will continue to be written about them for a long time to go. Extraordinary people that where only human, enjoyable especially for a non scientist.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Neither Fish Nor Fowl

This disappointing work has an odd premise, that simultaneous biographies of an important physicist (Wheeler) and his even more important graduate student (Feynman), whose professional lives largely diverged after their relatively brief collaboration, would provide an effective framework for telling the story of 20th century physics. The result falls flat, at least for me. It is neither a convincing biography of Wheeler or Feynman alone, nor a terribly interesting account of their relationship (which seems not to have been of paramount importance for either man). Neither is it an effective account of the relevant developments in physics, which has been told better by a number of other authors. If there is a labyrinth here, it is the one the author got stuck in writing this book.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Jsunn
  • RESTON, VA, United States
  • 03-30-18

good if you're really interested in the topic.

it doesn't go into technical details, but you should at least be familiar with the subject matter at a high level.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Physics through history.

This was a great account of both the development of physics during the 1900's, but also the environment it happened in. The author masterfully described complex phenomena through storytelling and often assisted the listeners understanding by intertwining the struggles the scientists went through. This is by no means a primer on Physics, but a sweet spot for the recreational physicist.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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great discussion and explanation of QED' s history

This is an appreciative history of Feynman and Wheeler's development of Quantum Electro-Dynamics and other topics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent historic overview

A historic overview some times cements our interest in subjects. The insight given surrounding these magnificent men of science is inspiring. Although I have an interest in physics this book makes me want to match the drive they had.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastical journey through space, time. Loved it!

An amazing biographical retelling of two highly influential figures in physics of the last century. True to the subjects, Halpern's book meanders through various possible stories (though, not ALL possibilities!) and settles into the best possible path, bringing the characters to life for those of us not fortunate enough to have met them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Hugo L.

A wonderful history of the most spectacular aspects of modern physics. An excellent survey for the interested layman, enlivened by anecdotal pictures of Wheeler and Feynman. Very well read - I found it useful to change the recital speech to 0.75 on occasion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ninja
  • Jaragua do Sul
  • 12-17-17

An emocional history of modern physics

This is simply amazing. All physicists and non-physicists will be delighted to know modern physics started to born in the hand of such wonderful people like Feynman, Wheeler and Einstein.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

I have so much more of an appreciation for Feynman and Wheeler now, those two are incredible!