The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality

The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality

by Paul Halpern


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The story of the unlikely friendship between the two physicists who fundamentally recast the notion of time and history

In 1939, Richard Feynman, a brilliant graduate of MIT, arrived in John Wheeler's Princeton office to report for duty as his teaching assistant. A lifelong friendship and enormously productive collaboration was born, despite sharp differences in personality. The soft-spoken Wheeler, though conservative in appearance, was a raging nonconformist full of wild ideas about the universe. The boisterous Feynman was a cautious physicist who believed only what could be tested. Yet they were complementary spirits. Their collaboration led to a complete rethinking of the nature of time and reality. It enabled Feynman to show how quantum reality is a combination of alternative, contradictory possibilities, and inspired Wheeler to develop his landmark concept of wormholes, portals to the future and past. Together, Feynman and Wheeler made sure that quantum physics would never be the same again.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465097586
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Series: Theoretical Minimum Series
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Paul Halpern is a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and the author of fifteen popular science books, most recently Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Introduction A Revolution in Time 1

Chapter 1 Wheeler's Watch 15

Chapter 2 The Only Particle in the Universe 43

Chapter 3 All the Roads Not to Paradise 81

Chapter 4 The Hidden Paths of Ghosts 113

Chapter 5 The Island and the Mountains: Mapping the Particle Landscape 133

Chapter 6 Life as an Amoeba in the Foamy Sea of Possibilities 167

Chapter 7 Time's Arrow and the Mysterious Mr. X 199

Chapter 8 Minds, Machines, and the Cosmos 229

Conclusion The Way of the Labyrinth 261

Epilogue Encounters with Wheeler 269

Acknowledgments 273

Notes 275

Further Reading 287

Index 291

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