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Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality Paperback – 2 April 2009
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- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781848310353
- ISBN-13 : 978-1848310353
- Dimensions : 15.29 x 3.05 x 23.39 cm
- Publisher : Icon Books; Reprint edition (2 April 2009)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1848310358
- Best Sellers Rank: 30,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
'This is about gob-smacking science at the far end of reason… Take it nice and easy and savour the experience of your mind being blown without recourse to hallucinogens' -- Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
‘…the most important popular science book of the year.’ -- Bookseller
‘Kumar is an accomplished writer… In Quantum he tells the story of the conflict between two of the most powerful intellects of their day: the hugely famous Einstein and the less well-known but just as brilliant Dane, Niels Bohr.’ -- Financial Times
An exhaustive and brilliant account of decades of emotionally charged discovery and argument, friendship and rivalry spanning two world wars.’ -- Steven Poole, Guardian
‘…it does provide a fresh perspective on the debate.’ -- Press Association
‘A dramatic, powerful and superbly written history.’ -- Publishing News
‘This is not an easy read. There are many concepts that… I could not come to terms with, but this is the biography on an idea and as such read much like a thriller.’ -- Ham & High
‘Quantum is a fascinating, powerful and brilliantly written book that shows one of the most important theories of modern science in the making and discusses its implications for our ideas about the fundamental nature of the world and human knowledge, while presenting intimate and insightful portraits of people who made the science. Highly recommended.’ -- Bookbag
‘‘Quantum’ is an interesting and informative read.’ -- Physics World
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Written in an as-it-happened manner by a physicist with deep passion for and understanding of the subject, the book supplies a brief curriculum vitae of the major players in the quest – Planck, Rutherford, Thompson, Bohr, de Brogli, Pauli, Heisenberg, Schrȍdinger and of course Einstein himself - and unfolds the problematic experimental data that emerged together with the theoretical means of dealing with these problems.
A story of cutting-edge research, academic brilliance, personal rivalry, determination and deeply held convictions, it captures the excitement of the times in a thrilling roller-coaster of a tale, a ripping yarn made all the more enthralling by its historical accuracy. The book does contain a couple of fairly simple equations, but in a way that enhances rather than obfuscates the narrative. As a history of science it's second to none, but the highly engaging style and sequential unfolding of events adds to an understanding of quantum physics from the perspective of the front-line.
The book ends with an account of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox and the experimental proof of Bell's theorem which provides the casting vote between the two opposing viewpoints of objective reality versus quantum subjectivity. Highly recommended.
I highly recommend this books to those interested in a subject that few people (even the scientists) know to its fullest extent.
In our everyday lives, things happen for a reason - you place a fork on a table and unless someone comes along and moves it, you can be certain that it will be still there the next day. Not so in the atomic world of quantum mechanics, an electron might be here... or it might be there ... or over there. In fact it could be anywhere in the universe at any given time. Quantum mechanics predicts this behaviour in the form of a probability wave function. And it works.
But is this the true nature of reality?
This is the theme of the book. We have two great scientists - Einstein and Niels Bohr who have a fundamental difference of opinion about the nature of reality.
From Einstein's' point of view, an electron has a real set of parameters such as location, velocity, spin and so on that is independent of an observer. He admits that quantum mechanics does a good job in predicting atomic behaviour but he is convinced the theory is not complete.
On the other hand, there is Niels Bohr's vision that an electron (or any microscopic entity) has no reality until an observer chooses to measure one of its parameters. He considers quantum mechanics to be complete with no further need for revision or modification.
This argument goes on for decades. The book takes the reader through the panoply of scientists who helped put quantum theory together from its beginnings around 1900 to today. Scientists such as Max Planck, Heisenberg, Dirac, Pauli, Oppenheimer, Von Neumann and many, many others are included.
The appeal of this book is that it brings humanity to the story of quantum mechanics. It shows the egos, the fears, the ambition of these extraordinary people as the story unfolds over decades.
If you want a pure explanation of quantum mechanics then you should look to a dry text book. But if you want the human context in which quantum mechanics evolved then I recommend you read this book.