A concise and engaging investigation of six interpretations of quantum physics.
Rules of the quantum world seem to say that a cat can be both alive and dead at the same time and a particle can be in two places at once. And that particle is also a wave; everything in the quantum world can described in terms of waves--or entirely in terms of particles. These interpretations were all established by the end of the 1920s, by Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and others. But no one has yet come up with a common sense explanation of what is going on. In this concise and engaging book, astrophysicist John Gribbin offers an overview of six of the leading interpretations of quantum mechanics.
Gribbin calls his account "agnostic," explaining that none of these interpretations is any better--or any worse--than any of the others. Gribbin presents the Copenhagen Interpretation, promoted by Niels Bohr and named by Heisenberg; the Pilot-Wave Interpretation, developed by Louis de Broglie; the Many Worlds Interpretation (termed "excess baggage" by Gribbin); the Decoherence Interpretation ("incoherent"); the Ensemble "Non-Interpretation"; and the Timeless Transactional Interpretation (which theorized waves going both forward and backward in time). All of these interpretations are crazy, Gribbin warns, and some are more crazy than others--but in the quantum world, being more crazy does not necessarily mean more wrong.
Black holes are the best-known and least-understood objects in the universe. In Einstein's Monsters, distinguished astronomer Chris Impey takes readers on a vivid tour of these enigmatic giants. He weaves a fascinating tale out of the fiendishly complex math of black holes and the colorful history of their discovery. Impey blends this history with a poignant account of the phenomena scientists have witnessed while observing black holes: stars swarming like bees around the center of our galaxy; black holes performing gravitational waltzes with visible stars; the cymbal clash of two black holes colliding, releasing ripples in space time. Clear, compelling, and profound, Einstein's Monsters reveals how our comprehension of black holes is intrinsically linked to how we make sense of the universe and our place within it.
"An exhilarating journey that cuts across a vast terrain of conceptual landmarks: from physics to metaphysics, mathematics to philosophy, and from mythology to theology." -- New Scientist
Despite being incredibly popular during his time, Nikola Tesla today remains largely overlooked among lists of the greatest inventors and scientists of the modern era. Thomas Edison gets all the glory for discovering the light bulb, but it was his one-time assistant and lifelong arch nemesis, Tesla, who made the breakthrough in alternating current technology. Edison and Tesla carried on a bitter feud for years, but it was Tesla's AC generators that illuminated the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago; the first time that an event of such magnitude had ever taken place under artificial light. Today, all homes and electrical appliances run on Tesla's AC current.
Born in Croatia in 1856, Tesla spoke eight languages and almost single-handedly developed household electricity. During his life, he patented more than 700 inventions. He invented electrical generators, FM radio, remote control robots, spark plugs and fluorescent lights. He had a photographic memory and did advanced calculus and physics equations in his head.
Nikola Tesla was the ultimate mad scientist. Like many other geniuses throughout history, Tesla was wildly eccentric. He was prone to nervous breakdowns, reported receiving odd visions in the middle of the night, spoke to pigeons, and occasionally thought he was receiving electromagnetic signals from Mars. If he'd lived today, he'd likely be diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive disorder: he hated round objects and disliked numbers that weren't divisible by the three.
Topics covered include: unitary geometry, quantum theory (Schrödinger's wave equation, transition probabilities, directional quantization, collision phenomena, Zeeman and Stark effects); groups and their representations (sub-groups and conjugate classes, linear transformations, rotation and Lorentz groups, closed continuous groups, invariants and covariants, Lie's theory); applications of group theory to quantum mechanics (simple state and term analysis, the spinning electron, multiplet structure, energy and momentum, Pauli exclusion principle, problem of several bodies, Maxwell-Dirac field equations, etc.); the symmetric permutation group; and algebra of symmetric transformation (invariant sub-spaces in group and tensor space, sub-groups, Young's symmetry operators, spin and valence, group theoretic classification of atomic spectra, branching laws, etc).
Throughout, Dr. Weyl emphasizes the "reciprocity" between representations of the symmetric permutation group and those of the complete linear group. His simplified treatment of "reciprocity," the Clebsch-Gordan series, and the Jordan-Hölder theorem and its analogues, has helped to clarity these and other complex topics.
How did physicists combine talent and technology to discover the Higgs boson, the last piece in our inventory of the subatomic world? How did the Higgs change our understanding of the universe? And now, nearly a decade after its detection, what comes next? Answering these questions, Ivo van Vulpen--a CERN particle physicist and member of the team behind the detection--invites us on a journey to the frontiers of our knowledge.
Enjoy van Vulpen's accessible explanation of the history of particle physics and of concepts like quantum mechanics and relativity--and ponder his inquiries regarding the search for new particles (to explain dark matter), a new force (to combine the existing fundamental forces), and new phenomena (undiscovered dimensions of space). This is a lively account of work at the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, with inspiring personal reflections on humanity's discoveries deeper and deeper into the world of the very small.
With 250,000 copies in print since its initial publication in 1983, NightWatch has become a standard reference guide for stargazers throughout North America.
The new Third Edition expands on that success with a completely revised and updated text, more than 100 new color photos and diagrams and 16 additional pages that cover such! new astronomical pursuits as computerized telescopes, reviews of new telescope designs and accessories, and astronomy on the Internet.
All charts, tables and diagrams have been updated and, in some cases, redesigned for easier use. Improved spacecraft measurements of the distances to the stars (recently released by the European Space Agency) are included in the charts, along with additional observing tips for stargazers using binoculars and telescopes. An expanded chapter on Astrophotography lists the best modern films and cameras for skyshooting.
The new NightWatch is faithful to the "ultra-simplified, no jargon" philosophy of the original, and at the same time, offers substantially more practical information for the novice and intermediate-level amateur astronomer. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada called the first edition "the best of its kind"- the new Third Edition is better still. It is still an abundantly illustrated, wide-sized volume designed for easy reference during many starlit nights.
Malin translates quantum mechanics into plain English, explaining its origins and workings against the backdrop of the famous debate between Niels Bohr and the skeptical Albert Einstein. Then he moves on to build a philosophical framework that can account for the quantum nature of reality. He shows, for instance, how Platonic and Neoplatonic thought resonates with quantum theory. He draws out the linkage between the concepts of Neoplatonism and the more recent process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The universe, Whitehead wrote, is an organic whole, composed not of lifeless objects, but "elementary experiences." Beginning with Whitehead's insight, Malin shows how this concept of "throbs of experience" expresses quantum reality, with its subatomic uncertainties, its constituents that are waves and also particles, its emphasis on acts of measurement.
Once any educated person could explain the universe as a vast Newtonian web of cause and effect, but since quantum theory, reality again appears to be richer and more mysterious than we had thought. Writing with broad humanistic insight and deep knowledge of science, and using delightful conversations with fictional astronauts Peter and Julie to explain more difficult concepts, Shimon Malin offers a profound new understanding of the nature of reality--one that shows a deep continuity with aspects of our Western philosophical tradition going back 2500 years, and that feels more deeply satisfying, and truer, than the clockwork universe of Newton.