The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Physics (Canto) Paperback – 5 May 2010
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'Paul Davies' summary … is one of the clearest short expositions of quantum theory I have ever read.' New Scientist
'For those puzzled by the mystery of Schrödinger's 'dead and alive' cat, or intrigued by the idea of parallel universes, this is a must.' The Good Book Guide
'Paul Davies' summary - well worth the price of the book - is one of the clearest short expositions of quantum theory I have ever read. But the best is yet to come. In the interviews we hear physicists defending passionately some very bizarre views of the world … seeing these questions through the eyes of the people who are actually struggling to answer them offers an exciting firsthand glimpse into this fundamental and controversial field of enquiry.' New Scientist
'Non-specialists will find this an attractive and thought-provoking book.' Contemporary Physics
In this book, which has its origin in a series of radio broadcasts, Paul Davies interviews eight physicists involved in debating and testing quantum theory, with radically different views of its significance.See all Product description
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Matter at the most fundamental level has both particle and wave nature (wave-particle duality), because some experiments illustrates the particle properties, and other experiments shows the wave properties. In addition, the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle postulates that the position and momentum of a fundamental particle are not determinable at the same time. This is not due to experimental limitations but inherent characteristic of matter, an intrinsic fuzziness of the subatomic world. Therefore it follows, in experiments measuring the path of fundamental particles; the famous two - slit electron experiment of Thomas Young; identical experiments yield different results. It is a common experience in the real world that the laws of cause and effect dictates common sense, for example, a planet in its orbit uses a well defined path and its position can be predicted at any give time, but in quantum world, this is uncertain and we can only discern the point of departure and point of arrival of an electron in an experiment but nothing about the actual path.
There are five major interpretations of quantum theory, they are; a. Copenhagen interpretation; b. Hugh Everett's many universes interpretation; c. Wigner's interpretation; d. Hidden variables interpretation and quantum potential; and e. Ensemble (statistical) interpretation. Copenhagen interpretation is considered as the official view. According to this, reality of classical world is ambiguous and non-specifiable. It gives subatomic particles an abstract mathematical status but does not provide reality in full common sense of the word. In classical thought the universe is independent of an observer; it exist no matter we observe that or not. This is objective reality that squares off with common sense perception. This is precisely the concept that Bohr challenged in his interpretation that objective reality doesn't exist per se until measurements are performed. In general, a quantum state may contain an infinite number of superimposed quantum states. The act of observation and measurement will result in one quantum state and others disappear instantaneously. Many universes interpretation of Hugh Everett proposes that superposition of wave function result in splitting the universe into multiple units each corresponding to one particular wave function or one state. The observer also splits into the same number of units and each universe will have a copy of the observer.
According to Wigner's interpretation, the quantum phenomenon does not happen until reality sets into the consciousness of the observer, but John Wheeler states that realty may have occurred but not put to use until this information is communicated.
Ensemble (statistical) interpretation which implies that any quantum mechanical measurement made is made on an ensemble of identically prepared systems. Hence the results of experiment take the form of a probability distribution of particular values for the measurement. This interpretation looks at the statistics and do not care about individual event. Hidden variables interpretation postulates that a particle like an electron has a potential called quantum potential (QP) which is a new property. Its effect does not depend on its magnitude but only on its form (particle or wave nature) so that it may have big effects over long distances. This wave (QP) also carries experimental arrangement with it and also the states of all other particles in the system. This interpretation also suggests that a particle has both position and a definitive momentum, and QP modifies classical behavior of particles to quantum behavior.
The negative feature of the book is that the authors do not discuss the results of experiments they describe (see pages 11, 16, 19, and 40)
The all-too-brief introduction spends far too much time on irrelevant detail, when the short space should have been devoted to quantum fundamentals. For instance, a detailed account of the Aspect experiment is surely totally inappropriate here.
The eight physicists involved are probably all the BBC could drum up at short notice. There is no mainstream representative of the Copenhagen interpretation, and the interviews leave you wishing to know what the real big hitters (Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg...) *really* thought about these issues. To find out, you need other books.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It is difficult to measure things that move very close to the speed of light and recent advances in acoustic switching allowed some tentative experiments to proceed. This book reviews the work of Dr. Alain Aspect and his attempts to simultaneously measure two "identical" particles as they race away from a nucleus.
I studied "modern physics" under Dr. Carroll Alley who very much had a hand in the development of these techniques and was an avowed fan of Dr. Aspect. It is very easy to get carried away and extend quantum physics scale properties to large objects or people. I remember Dr. Alley's advice on such flights of fancy, which is a sore point for many physicists: don't be afraid to relocate a book to the fiction section of the store.
More recent books on the subject include "Quantum Enigma" by Rosenberg and Kutner and Roger Penrose's "The Emperor's new Mind". If you enjoy fictional attempts at applying quantum mechanics to everyday life, I recommend "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson or "Cosmic Banditos" by anonymous. Cheers
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