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"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." #Richard Feynman#
Basing his discussion on a small number of conceptually simple models (the two-level atom, the two-slit interferometer), the author addresses a number of conceptually interesting questions concerning the puzzles of quantum mechanics. Though the phenomena arising from quantum interference are central, he maintains that they are not the only mystery in quantum mechanics: the deep connection between spin and the statistics of identical particles, the "ghostly" long-range effects that correlated particles exert on each other, and the perplexing role of topology in the interactions of charged particles and electromagnetic fields, are all conundrums yet to be understood.
1 Fields Without Forces.- 1.1 The Enigma of Quantum Interference.- 1.2 Confined Fields and Electron Interference.- References.- 2 Around and Around: The Rotating Electron in Electromagnetic Fields.- 2.1 Broken Symmetry of the Charged Planar Rotator.- 2.2 The Two-Dimensional Rotator in an Electric Field.- 2.3 The Two-Dimensional Rotator in a Magnetic Field.- 2.4 The Two-Dimensional Rotator in a Vector Potential Field.- 2.5 Fermions, Bosons, and Things In-Between.- 2.6 Quantum Interference in a Metal Ring.- References.- 3 Interferometry of Correlated Particles.- 3.1 Ghostly Correlations: Wave and Spin.- 3.2 The AB—EPR Effect with Two Solenoids.- 3.3 The AB—HBT Effect in a Two-Slit Interferometer.- 3.4 Correlated Particles in a Mach—Zehnder Interferometer.- 3.5 Brighter Than a Million Suns: Electron Beams from Atom-Size Sources.- References.- 4 Quantum Boosts and Quantum Beats.- 4.1 Interfering Pathways in Time.- 4.2 Laser-Generated Quantum Beats.- 4.3 Nonlinear Effects in a Three-Level Atom.- 4.4 Correlated Beats from Entangled States.- References.- 5 Sympathetic Vibrations: The Atom in Resonant Fields.- 5.1 Beams, Bottles, and Electric Resonance.- 5.2 Two Perspectives of the Two-Level Atom.- 5.3 Oscillating Field Theory.- 5.4 Resonance and Coherent States: The Tell-Tale Mark of a Quantum Jump.- 5.5 Quantum Interference in Separated Oscillating Fields.- 5.6 Ion Interferometry and Tests of Gauge Invariance.- References.- 6 The Quantum Physics of Handedness.- 6.1 Optical Activity of Mirror-Image Molecules.- 6.2 Quantum Interference and Parity Conservation.- 6.3 Optical Activity of Rotating Matter.- References.
Posted November 29, 2002
Mark P. Silverman's "More Than One Mystery", in much the same manner as his treatment of optics in "Waves and Grains" written a few years later, is a series of discrete but interrelated essays on different aspects of quantum interference. The treatment is semi-technical, with analyses of the math supporting the various experiments and their interpretations. Speaking as one with no math background at all and no formal training in physics, I still found this book fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. Silverman is something of a polymath, with wide-ranging interests, and he succeeds in bringing together concepts from different fields of study in unexpected but very fruitful ways. He surely must be a wonderful classroom teacher; his enthusiasm for his subject matter is contagious, and to say that his use of language in his writing is masterful is an understatement. Formerly a journalist, he is always engaging, and never dry. Throughout, his descriptions are a model of clarity, and the precision of his vocabulary in the simplest nontechnical sentences is awe-inspiring in its elegance. This is not a textbook, but any serious student of physics who doesn't own a copy is missing out on an important book. Much of this same material is presented for a general readership in his 2002 "A Universe of Atoms, An Atom in the Universe", a revision of the now out-of-print "And Yet It Moves: Strange Systems and Subtle Questions in Physics".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.