In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality

In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality

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by John Gribbin
     
 

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Quantum theory is so shocking that Einstein could not bring himself to accept it. It is so important that it provides the fundamental underpinning of all modern sciences. Without it, we'd have no nuclear power or nuclear weapons, no TV, no computers, no science of molecular biology, no understanding of DNA, no genetic engineering. In Search of Schrodinger's Cat<

Overview

Quantum theory is so shocking that Einstein could not bring himself to accept it. It is so important that it provides the fundamental underpinning of all modern sciences. Without it, we'd have no nuclear power or nuclear weapons, no TV, no computers, no science of molecular biology, no understanding of DNA, no genetic engineering. In Search of Schrodinger's Cat tells the complete story of quantum mechanics, a truth stranger than any fiction. John Gribbin takes us step by step into an ever more bizarre and fascinating place, requiring only that we approach it with an open mind. He introduces the scientists who developed quantum theory. He investigates the atom, radiation, time travel, the birth of the universe, superconductors and life itself. And in a world full of its own delights, mysteries and surprises, he searches for Schrodinger's Cat - a search for quantum reality - as he brings every reader to a clear understanding of the most important area of scientific study today - quantum physics. In Search of Schrodinger's Cat is a fascinating and delightful introduction to the strange world of the quantum - an essential element in understanding today's world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553342536
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/1984
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
286,001
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.81(d)

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In Search of Schrodinger's Cat 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 9 reviews.
calphad More than 1 year ago
Since my freshman days at the University of Sarajevo, where I was studying Metallurgical Engineering, I have been quite a bit intrigued and extremely fascinated by the whole world of quantum mechanics. In Search of Schrodinger¿s Cat was one of very few popular science books published in the early 1980s on the subject of quantum mechanics. The title of the book refers to a famous thought experiment (paradox) devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger. The thought experiment presents a hypothetical cat that apparently can be simultaneously both dead and alive (or neither dead nor alive), depending on an earlier random event, and assuming that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics can be applied to everyday objects.

For those of us who are not physicists, the book covers, in a rather accessible manner (especially in its first half), a number of key theories, ideas, and paradoxes such as the dual nature of light, the double-slit experiment, the structure and the inner workings of atoms, Plank¿s constant and its history and significance, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics and its possible far-reaching philosophical implications, the Compton effect, the Copenhagen interpretation, etc. Often incorrectly depicted as just an experimental limitation, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (the central idea of quantum mechanics), is explained quite nicely (and I believe correctly) in this book. The author also gives a couple of great examples of the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics (e.g., Dirac¿s mathematical prediction of the existence of positrons, the electron¿s antiparticle).

The author¿s style of writing is engaging and pleasant to read. The book is filled with relevant historic references, which I personally always find useful, as they help with putting everything in a right prospective and context. Even though it is thought provoking, the second half of the book, which deals with more speculative questions related to quantum mechanics (e.g., the many-worlds theory), is less satisfactory and less focused.

I recommend this book as an easy, non-mathematical introduction to the basic concepts of quantum mechanics, arguably the most fascinating scientific theory ever formulated by human mind. To fully understand and truly appreciate quantum mechanics, however, one has to sharpen one¿s mathematical pencil and dig deep into vector algebra with all its eigenvectors and eigenvalues. There are no shortcuts. Thus, my caveat lector: advanced students will almost certainly learn nothing new of importance in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a few books on quantum physics, but this work for the layperson is exceptionally understandable (even though the subject matter, by its very nature, still bemuses scientists). The historical exposition, the clear logic of presentation, and the exquisitely apt examples allowed me to comprehend to a fuller degree this most abstruse of natural phenomena. The major drawback is that the book was written in the 1980's, and lacks any discussion of discoveries dating within the last 30 years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Gribbin's work is informative and fun to read. His explanations make quantum mechanics approachable for those interested in science.
Julianna_D 12 months ago
The book, “In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat,” by John Gribbin, provides a great introduction to the strange world of quantum mechanics. It begins by discussing the origins of the quantum, and how scientists tried for decades to bridge the gap between classical physics and the new discoveries that were being made. The implications of quantum mechanics are sometimes very unsettling, and the author this book acknowledges that. However, if it weren’t for all of these discoveries, we wouldn’t have any of the modern technologies we have today. One main point I feel this book made was that though sometimes the work on these theories was difficult, through the perseverance of a handful of incredibly intelligent people, some of the most important scientific discoveries were reached. Though sometimes research raises more questions than it answers, it is so important to keep moving forward. The concepts that are touched on in the book are very complex, but the book attempts to put them in more layman’s terms, so they can be understood by all. I found that this book had a lot of personal significance, as I am currently taking my first introductory modern physics class, and the subject matter discussed in the book follows what I am learning in that class fairly closely. Quantum mechanics are one of the five big things we are learning in my class, and I now feel more prepared to participate intelligently in discussions in that. Just as my physics class is taught with a specific math proficiency level in mind, this book focuses more on the history of quantum than the complex mathematical specifics that make everything work. This book is a great read for anyone who only has a base knowledge of math and physics, particularly classical, or Newtonian, physics, and desires to learn more about quantum mechanics. This book would also be useful for someone in an introductory physics class, in either high school or college, who wants some more background knowledge on the quantum.
Sno-Dawg More than 1 year ago
This is a very nice history book. I highly recommend this to those involved in the Quantum arena as a means of understanding the non-scientific connection between issues. Ditto for non-scientists attempting to make sense of the jargon being thrown about in the media. Other than a few scientific terms, the narrative is definitely not a science book, but rather one telling of the driving forces, as well as politics, that have occurred in the Quantum world of science. Although the facts are well assembled, Gribbon will not win a Pulitzer Prize for literature, but the material is none-the-less very interesting. Many of the interrelationships he discusses are scarcely known but make great sense when pulled together and juxtaposed. Again - a very nice history but in the spirit of Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Theorem, Gribbin, leads us to the present day and presents us with various questions re the reality of what is being done in Quantum Mechanics leaving us with a different kind of uncertainty: Is all this stuff valid Physics or simply some elegant Mathematics, akin to the ancient Greek Epicycles and Equants, that just happens to be very useful?
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