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The Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousnessby Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner
Synopses & Reviews
The most successful theory in all of science (and the basis of one third of our economy) says the strangest things about the world and about us. Can you believe that physical reality is created by our observation of it? Physicists were forced to this conclusion, the quantum enigma, by what they observed in their laboratories.
Trying to understand the atom, physicists built quantum mechanics and found, to their embarrassment, that their theory intimately connects consciousness with the physical world. Quantum Enigma explores what that implies and why some founders of the theory became the foremost objectors to it. Schrodinger showed that it absurdly allowed a cat to be in a superposition simultaneously dead and alive. Einstein derided the theory's spooky interactions. With Bell's Theorem, we now know Schrodinger's superpositions and Einstein's spooky interactions indeed exist.
Authors Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner explain all of this in non-technical terms with help from some fanciful stories and bits about the theory's developers. They present the quantum mystery honestly, with an emphasis on what is and what is not speculation.
Physics' encounter with consciousness is its skeleton in the closet. Because the authors open the closet and examine the skeleton, theirs is a controversial book. Quantum Enigma's description of the experimental quantum facts, and the quantum theory explaining them, is undisputed. Interpreting what it all means, however, is controversial.
Every interpretation of quantum physics encounters consciousness. Rosenblum and Kuttner therefore turn to exploring consciousness itself: and encounter quantum physics. Free will and anthropicprinciples become crucial issues, and the connection of consciousness with the cosmos suggested by some leading quantum cosmologists is mind-blowing. Readers are brought to a boundary where the particular expertise of physicists is no longer a sure guide. They will find, instead, the facts and hints provided by quantum mechanics and the ability to speculate for themselves.
Book News Annotation:
The measurement problem in quantum physics (i.e. the "quantum enigma" of this volume's title) is that the wave-function in quantum mechanics evolves according to the Schrödinger equation into a linear superposition of different states, but any measurement finds the physical system in a definite state, suggesting that the act of observation has somehow converted probabilities into reality. The authors (a pair of physics professors from the U. of California at Santa Cruz) of this work are amongst those who resolve this problem by suggesting that reality is actually created by consciousness. They explain this idea to a general audience and explore its implications "beyond physics." Annotation Â©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Bruce Rosenblum is Professor of Physics and former Chairperson of the Physics Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has also consulted extensively for government and industry on technical and policy issues. His research has moved from molecular physics to condensed matter physics and, after a foray into biophysics, has focused on fundamental issues in quantum mechanics.
After a career in industry that included two technology startups, and following a second career in academic administration, Fred Kuttner now devotes most of his time to teaching physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research interests have centered on the low temperature properties of solids and the thermal properties of magnets. For the last several years, Kuttner has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics and the implications of the quantum theory.
Table of Contents
1. Presenting the Enigma
2. Einstein Called it "Spooky"--and I Wish I Had Known
3. The Visit to Neg Ahne Poc: A Quantum Parable
4. Our Newtonian Worldview: A Universal Law of Motion
5. All the Rest of Classical Physics
Hello Quantum Mechanics
6. How the Quantum Was Forced on Physics
7. SchrÃ¶dinger's Equation: The New Universal Law of Motion
8. One-Third of Our Economy
9. Our Skeleton in the Closet
10. Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen
11. SchrÃ¶dinger's Controversial Cat
12. Seeking a Real World: EPR
13. Spooky Interactions: Bell's Theorem
14. What's Going On?: Interpreting the Quantum Enigma
15. The Mystery of Consciousness
16. The Mystery Meets the Enigma
17. Consciousness and the Quantum Cosmos
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