Quantum Physics for Poets

Leon M. Lederman, Author
Leon M. Lederman and Christoper T. Hill, Prometheus, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61614-233-9
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 01/01/2011
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In their second work (after Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe), co-authors Lederman, the Nobel Prize winning director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and present director Hill treat nature as a language to be learned, taking readers on a journey from the large to the small, "to a world within our world" and giving them a primer in the language of modern science. Star Trek, Galileo, and Newton and kick things off, and the authors address competing theories of light. Is it a wave transmitted through the ether, or a beam of photons? What could be ancient history comes to vibrant life in an engaging narrative that reveals contradictory experiments that found light to be both a wave and a particle—simultaneously. This led to further anomalies, as Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger, in experiments to determine the precise location and time of an event, challenged the fundamental idea of classical physics and opened the door to probability theory. The authors give the reader a peek into the wonders of modern physics—from early "Eureka" moments to field theory and string theory—in a highly accessible introduction to third millennium science. (Jan.)