Where Does the Weirdness Go?: Why Quantum Mechanics Is Strange, but Not as Strange as You Think

Overview

Few revolutions in science have been more far-reaching—but less understood—than the quantum revolution in physics. Everyday experience cannot prepare us for the sub-atomic world, where quantum effects become all-important. Here, particles can look like waves, and vice versa; electrons seem to lose their identity and instead take on a shifting, unpredictable appearance that depends on how they are being observed; and a single photon may sometimes behave as if it could be in two places at once. In the world of ...

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Overview

Few revolutions in science have been more far-reaching—but less understood—than the quantum revolution in physics. Everyday experience cannot prepare us for the sub-atomic world, where quantum effects become all-important. Here, particles can look like waves, and vice versa; electrons seem to lose their identity and instead take on a shifting, unpredictable appearance that depends on how they are being observed; and a single photon may sometimes behave as if it could be in two places at once. In the world of quantum mechanics, uncertainty and ambiguity become not just unavoidable, but essential ingredients of science—a development so disturbing that to Einstein ”it was as if God were playing dice with the universe.” And there is no one better able to explain the quantum revolution as it approaches the century mark than David Lindley. He brings the quantum revolution full circle, showing how the familiar and trustworthy reality of the world around us is actually a consequence of the ineffable uncertainty of the subatomic quantum world—the world we can’t see.

The author of The End of Physics--with over 20,000 copies sold in hardcover and paperback--now presents a short, intelligently written, and fun guide to quantum physics that fully explains the strange and seemingly spooky effects that manifest themselves at the subatomic level.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465067862
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,059,166
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lindley, formerly a theoretical astrophysicist at Cambridge University in England and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, has been an editor of the journals Nature and Science and is currently Associate Editor of Science News, in Washington, D.C. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2002

    Qualitative Introduction to Quantum Theory

    This book deserves to be better known than it is. 'Where Does the Weirdness Go?' is a welcome addition to the literature of popular physics. The book is intended for a lay audience and contains only one equation. The author conveys a feel for the capability and the limitations of quantum theory using only prose and a few illustrations. Probably a reader who has taken three semesters of college physics, including an introduction to modern physics, would get a lot more out of this discussion than someone without a background in physics. The book reviews the basic qualitative ideas of quantum theory and discusses some of the interpretation issues and paradoxes, such as objectivity, non-locality, and Schroedinger's cat. The author is an advocate for the Copenhagen interpretation, which has been embraced by the mainstream of the physics community. (There are, however, scientists on the fringe who reject the Copenhagen interpretation.) The book goes well beyond the Copenhagen interpretation, however, to discuss the measurement problem and how it is that the signature weirdness of the quantum theory, which manifests itself on an atomic scale, evaporates on a macroscopic scale. This is the main strength of the book. The book is beautifully written. The explanations are mostly crystal clear. The author likes to use multiple perspectives for viewing a problem. There is a detailed index and a bibliography with many ideas for further reading. This book is highly recommended for anyone who took quantum mechanics in college and came away without an intuition for the subject. (That would be just about everyone who ever took quantum mechanics in college!) This book is no substitute for a textbook in quantum mechanics, but it makes great supplementary reading. Textbooks on quantum mechanics typically aren't verbose enough to give readers a good intuitive feel for the subject. The book 'The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature' by Heinz Pagels, now out of print, has long been regarded as the best introduction to quantum theory for a lay audience. 'Where Does the Weirdness Go?' is a worthy successor.

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