"Quantum mechanics is humanity's finest scientific achievement. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. It's the theory behind the LEDs in your phone and the nuclear hearts of space probes. Every physicist agrees quantum physics is spectacularly successful. But ask them what quantu... Full description
"Quantum mechanics is humanity's finest scientific achievement. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. It's the theory behind the LEDs in your phone and the nuclear hearts of space probes. Every physicist agrees quantum physics is spectacularly successful. But ask them what quantum physics means, and the result will be a brawl. At stake is the nature of the Universe itself. What does it mean for something to be real? What is the role of consciousness in the Universe? And do quantum rules apply to very small objects like electrons and protons, but not us? In What is Real?, Adam Becker brings to vivid life the brave researchers whose quest for the truth led them to challenge Bohr: David Bohm, who picked up Einstein's mantle and sought to make quantum mechanics deterministic, all while being hounded by the forces of McCarthyism; Hugh Everett, who argued that everything, big and small, must be governed by the same rules; and John Bell, who went to great lengths to eradicate the power of the god-like observer from the core of quantum physics. And they paid dearly, their reputations, careers, and sometimes lives ruined completely. But history has been kinder to them than their contemporaries were. As Becker shows, the brave intellectual giants have inspired a growing army of physicists and philosophers intent both on making a philosophically more satisfying theory of the universe and a more useful one as well. A gripping story of some of humanity's greatest ideas and the high cost with which many have pursued them, What is Real? is intellectual history at its passionate best"--
ix, 370 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Adam Becker is a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics. He has written for the New York Times , the BBC, NPR, Scientific American, New Scientist , and other publications. He is a visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley's Office for History of Science and Technology. He lives in California.