Synchronicity: The Epic Quest to Understand the Quantum Nature of Cause and Effect

Paul Halpern. Basic, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-541-67363-2
Physicist Halpern (The Quantum Labyrinth) makes a valiant if not fully successful attempt to render quantum mechanics accessible. Halpern surveys the human search to understand the cosmos, beginning with the ancient Greeks’ interest in the speed of light, through Newton and his classical model of particles and James Clerk Maxwell’s theories of electromagnetics. Halpern then leaps to the early 20th century, when Einstein’s theories jump-started quantum physics. He gives the most famous names in modern physics their due—including, in addition to Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr—but focuses on the lesser-known Wolfgang Pauli, known to contemporaries as Zweistein, or “Einstein II” for intellectual innovations such as statistical causality: the idea that to account for randomness in the behavior of subatomic particles, scientists can only determine cause and effect by averaging the results of many experiments together. Particularly intriguing is a section on how the friendship between Pauli and Carl Jung influenced both men’s thinking. On the details of quantum mechanics, though, he gives little quarter, with dense sentences such as “Finally, physical observables, such as the measurable energy of electron’s transition between different atomic levels that produces a spectral line, might be represented by scalars.” It’s daunting subject matter, and even those with a general interest in science may have trouble making their wy through Halpern’s intelligent treatise. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/08/2020
Release date: 08/18/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-0619-4
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