Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics

Paul Halpern. Basic, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-465-07571-3

Halpern (Edge of the Universe) attempts his own grand unification in this look at the lives, work, and friendship of two giants of physics. He details the romances, careers, and politics of contemporaries Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger from their earliest childhood brushes with science to their deaths, updating what is known of Einstein’s life thanks to a recently released trove of early letters. Both Einstein and Schrödinger staunchly believed that randomness had no place in a theory that described the universe and spent much of their later years futilely crafting explanations that failed to fully explain reality. Halpern, himself a physics professor, is challenged by the task of summarizing and explaining the work of his two principal subjects, as well as that of every other serious physicist of the 20th century. Quantum physics, even in précis form, is a level beyond rocket science, and the author does his best, even giving a taste of current progress in the field. Like this pair of geniuses, Halpern has his own difficulties with quantum theory, but as he notes of Einstein and Schrödinger, “even the most brilliant scientists are human.” [em]Agent: Giles Anderson, Anderson Literary Agency. (Apr.) [/em]