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The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn Paperback – 10 Nov 2009
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"Captivating. . . . A movingly human and surprisingly accessible picture of the unveiling of the quantum universe. . . . Admirably lucid." --Chicago Tribune"A sparkling, original book. . . . Gilder brings the reader into a mix of ideas and personalities handled with a verve reminiscent of Jeremy Berstein's scientific portraits in The New Yorker. . . . What had been for generations a story of theoretical malcontents now intrigues spooks and start-ups. All this radiates from Louisa Gilder's story. Quantum physics lives." --The New York Times Book Review "Highly entertaining. . . . Hard to put down. . . . Grippingly readable. . . . Gilder is a fine storyteller who brings to life one of the great scientific adventures of our time." --American Scientist
"[A] fascinating yarn. . . . For anyone who wants to understand the human angle of modern physics and separate quirks from quarks, this is your book." --The Providence Journal (A Best Book of 2008) "A witty, charming, and accurate account of the history of that bugaboo of physics-quantum entanglement . . . There are many books out there on the history or foundations of quantum mechanics. Some are more technical, others more historical, but none take the unique approach that Gilder has-to focus on the quantum weirdness of entanglement itself as her book's unifying them and to present it in an inviting and accessible way . . . Delightful." --Science "Astonishing. . . . The courage and even audacity of a nonscientist to investigate the evolution of ideas about the most esoteric aspects of quantum physics are truly remarkable. . . . Gilder is a phenomenal writer." --Charleston Post & Courier "A welcome addition to the genre. . . . [Gilder's] book really shines . . . [She] proves that the neglected last fifty years of quantum mechanics is . . . full of brilliant, quirky personalities and mind-bending discoveries. . . . She is a very compelling writer, and she clearly understands what makes science exciting and science history interesting." --ScientificBlogging.com "The clearest and most intriguing history of the manner in which the scientific method continues to advance knowledge. An amazing story." --Sacramento News & Review
"A delightfully unconventional history. . . . Especially enjoyable are the portraits of the less famous physicists . . . Gilder has done her homework." --Nature "[Gilder] displays an ability to capture a personality in a few words." --The Washington Post
"An admirable, unexpected 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 "Louisa Gilder disentangles the story of entanglement with such narrative panache, such poetic verve and such metaphorical precision that for a moment I almost thought I understood quantum mechanics." --Matt Ridley, author of Genome
About the Author
Louisa Gilder was born in Tyringham, Massachusetts, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2000. This is her first book.
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The story is based around the quantum property of entanglement or 'spooky action at a distance', as Einstein called it. It is told in more or less chronological order going from the early years of quantum theory in the 1930s up to almost the present day.
The various areas of quantum physics are discussed as a background and entanglement is brought to the fore via things like Einstein's distate of it and the EPR paradox he helped formulate, and John Bell's 'inequality' and later improvements upon that.
What makes the book, though, is the way it's told. The author tells much of the story via invented - yet plausible - conversations between the various physicists. It therefore reads in some ways like a novel and I think that makes it all the more enjoyable.
So far, so appropriate; but the weakness in this account is that, although some conversations, exchanges of letters or publications of papers are a matter of record, others have been invented or synthesized from snippets and then further embellished with ambient details, thoughts, asides, facial expressions and so on (I lost count of the instances of raised eyebrows).
Once the dialogues are interspersed with some longwinded reminiscences, glances into the future, family notes, menu details and so on, the embellished narrative becomes a distraction from what would otherwise be a reasoned discussion of some quite profound ideas.
There is some good stuff buried here - amid the anecdotes and the fanciful allusions to ideas as resembling tigers, little lambs or head-butting rams - but I confess that, after a few chapters, I gave up on systematic digging for meaning and settled for reading snippets.
Gilder deserves a great deal of credit for crafting a wonderfully original, thought-provoking and enjoyable book on the subject of Quantum Mechanics.
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