Quantum Physics for Poets
By Leon M. Lederman
(Prometheus Books, Hardcover, 9781616142339, 338pp.)
Publication Date: January 2011
Categories: Quantum Theory
Quantum theory is the bedrock of contemporary physics and the basis of understanding matter in its tiniest dimensions and the vast universe as a whole. But for many, the theory remains an impenetrable enigma.
Now, two physicists seek to remedy this situation by both drawing on their scientific expertise and their talent for communicating science to the general reader. In this lucid, informative book, designed for the curious, they make the seemingly daunting subject of quantum physics accessible, appealing, and exciting. Their story is partly historical, covering the many "Eureka" moments when great scientists—Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and others—struggled to come to grips with the bizarre realities that quantum research revealed. Although their findings were indisputably proven in experiments, they were so strange and counterintuitive that Einstein refused to accept quantum theory, despite its great success. The authors explain the many strange and even eerie aspects of quantum reality at the subatomic level, from "particles" that can be many places simultaneously and sometimes act more like waves, to the effect that a human can have on their movements by just observing them! Finally, the authors delve into quantum physics’ latest and perhaps most breathtaking offshoots—field theory and string theory. The intricacies and ramifications of these two theories will give the reader much to ponder. In addition, the authors describe the diverse applications of quantum theory in its almost countless forms of modern technology throughout the world. Using eloquent analogies and illustrative examples, this book renders even the most profound reaches of quantum theory understandable and something for us all to savor.
Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Laureate (Batavia, IL), is Resident Scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Pritzker Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the author of the highly acclaimed The God Particle, the editor of Portraits of Great American Scientists, and a contributor to Science Literacy for the Twenty-First Century. Dr. Lederman and coauthor Christopher T. Hill are also the coauthors of Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe.
Christopher T. Hill, PhD (Batavia, IL), is chairman of the Department of Theoretical Physics and a theoretical physicist (Scientist III) at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
"No doubt about it, the quantum world is the weirdest place known to the human mind. With unexcelled clarity and humor, Lederman and Hill provide the best guide to this bizarre place I've ever seen."
–James Trefil, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics, George Mason University
"Lederman and Hill, two very well known physicists, have written in a prose that speaks to the poet in all of us. A delightful and illuminating guide through the mysteries of the quantum world."
–Gino Segré, department of physics and astronomy, University of Pennsylvania