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The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A brilliantly original and richly illuminating exploration of entanglement, the seemingly telepathic communication between two separated particles—one of the fundamental concepts of quantum physics.

In 1935, in what would become the most cited of all of his papers, Albert Einstein showed that quantum mechanics predicted such a correlation, which he dubbed “spooky action at a distance.” In that same year, Erwin Schrödinger christened this spooky correlation “entanglement.” Yet its existence wasnt firmly established until 1964, in a groundbreaking paper by the Irish physicist John Bell. What happened during those years and what has happened since to refine the understanding of this phenomenon is the fascinating story told here.

We move from a coffee shop in Zurich, where Einstein and Max von Laue discuss the madness of quantum theory, to a bar in Brazil, as David Bohm and Richard Feynman chat over cervejas. We travel to the campuses of American universities—from J. Robert Oppenheimers Berkeley to the Princeton of Einstein and Bohm to Bells Stanford sabbatical—and we visit centers of European physics: Copenhagen, home to Bohrs famous institute, and Munich, where Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli picnic on cheese and heady discussions of electron orbits.

Drawing on the papers, letters, and memoirs of the twentieth centurys greatest physicists, Louisa Gilder both humanizes and dramatizes the story by employing their own words in imagined face-to-face dialogues. Here are Bohr and Einstein clashing, and Heisenberg and Pauli deciding which mysteries to pursue. We see Schrödinger and Louis de Broglie pave the way for Bell, whose work is here given a long-overdue revisiting. And with his characteristic matter-of-fact eloquence, Richard Feynman challenges his contemporaries to make something of this entanglement.

Review:

"The story of quantum mechanics and its lively cast of supporters, 'heretics' and agnostics has always fascinated science historians and popular science readers. Gilder's version differs from the familiar tale in two important ways. First, by focusing on the problem of entanglement — the supposed 'telepathic' connection between particles that a skeptical Einstein called 'spooky action-at-a-distance' — Gilder includes more recent developments leading to quantum computing and quantum cryptography. Second, Gilder exercises — not wholly successfully — a daring creative license, drawing excerpts from papers, journals and letters to construct dialogues among the scientists. 'Science is rooted in conversations,' Werner Heisenberg once wrote, and Gilder's created conversations reveal personalities as well as thought processes: 'Do you really believe the moon is not there if no one looks?' asks Einstein. Less comfortable aspects of the era are also part of Gilder's story, the uncertainty and fear as one scientist after another fled Nazi Germany, the paranoia of the Manhattan Project and the McCarthy era. Gilder's history is rife with curious characters and dramatizes how difficult it was for even these brilliant scientists to grasp the paradigm-changing concepts of quantum science. 20 illus., 15 by the author." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Evolutionary biologists tell us that the human brain developed for one purpose: to allow our ancestors to survive in the African savannah millions of years ago. And yet this organ, whose main duty was to keep us from the attention of the neighborhood carnivores, seems capable of comprehending almost any environment it finds, from galaxies billions of light years away to the cells in our bodies.

... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Book News Annotation:

Author Gilder provides an unusual treatment of a complex topic--quantum physics--by exploring how the passions and personalities of the physicists themselves affected the development of this field of study. The author presents the human aspect of the story by using the physicists own words in imaginary face-to-face dialogues. The varied list of luminaries cited in the book include Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and Feynman. The result is a readable, conversational book. Most but not all of the illustrations are by the author. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Louisa Gilder graduated from Dartmouth College in 2000. She lives in Bodega Bay, California. This is her first book.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400044177
Subtitle:
When Quantum Physics Was Reborn
Author:
Gilder, Louisa
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Quantum Theory
Subject:
History
Subject:
Physics-Quantum Mechanics
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20081111
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
22 ILLUS., 16 BY AUTHOR
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.76x6.28x1.44 in. 1.77 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Quantum Mechanics

The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn Used Hardcover
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Product details 464 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9781400044177 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The story of quantum mechanics and its lively cast of supporters, 'heretics' and agnostics has always fascinated science historians and popular science readers. Gilder's version differs from the familiar tale in two important ways. First, by focusing on the problem of entanglement — the supposed 'telepathic' connection between particles that a skeptical Einstein called 'spooky action-at-a-distance' — Gilder includes more recent developments leading to quantum computing and quantum cryptography. Second, Gilder exercises — not wholly successfully — a daring creative license, drawing excerpts from papers, journals and letters to construct dialogues among the scientists. 'Science is rooted in conversations,' Werner Heisenberg once wrote, and Gilder's created conversations reveal personalities as well as thought processes: 'Do you really believe the moon is not there if no one looks?' asks Einstein. Less comfortable aspects of the era are also part of Gilder's story, the uncertainty and fear as one scientist after another fled Nazi Germany, the paranoia of the Manhattan Project and the McCarthy era. Gilder's history is rife with curious characters and dramatizes how difficult it was for even these brilliant scientists to grasp the paradigm-changing concepts of quantum science. 20 illus., 15 by the author." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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