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Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution 1st Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118299265
ISBN-10: 1118299264
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Editorial Reviews


"A fascinating tale of scientific endeavour... Gribbin expertly elucidates the relationships and discoveries that shaped Schrodinger's thoughts, including his lengthy correspondence with Albert Einstein, which led to the famous cat-in-the-box thought experiment... Anyone wishing to dip their feet in the muddy waters of quantum physics will enjoy this scientific soap opera. But it should be required reading for those eager to understand how the process of scientific discovery really works" New Scientist "Gribbin is an established master in the game of demystifying quantum mechanics" -- Jim Al-Khalili "The master of popular science writing" The Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Erwin Schrödinger is the grandfather of quantum physics best known for his thought experiment of a cat in a box, simultaneously dead and alive, which demonstrated the maddening absurdity of quantum physics. Author of the bestselling classic In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, John Gribbin now explores the physicist behind the box.

Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution is a riveting biography of a giant of physics who was as passionate about philosophy and Eastern religion as he was about science, who broke social convention to the detriment of his career, and who was a reluctant revolutionary of quantum physics. Raised on the scientific tradition of the nineteenth century, Erwin Schrödinger's major contribution to the new science of the twentieth century was his masterpiece wave theory of quanta for which he received a Nobel Prize. Schrödinger remains an integral part of the new physics of the twenty-first century.

Few scientists are known as snappy dressers, but Schrödinger sometimes made Einstein look like a fashion icon. On one occasion he had trouble gaining admission to an important scientific meeting because of his bedraggled appearance. Far more problematic were his unorthodox domestic arrangements. He horrified the old-fashioned establishment at Oxford when he turned up in England with both his wife and his mistress, and he was later not considered for a job at Princeton, working alongside Einstein, for the same reason.

More than a century after the first skirmishes of the quantum revolution, it may be difficult to understand what a profound shock it was for brilliant scientists like Schrödinger and Einstein to be confronted by the specter of uncertainty at the atomic level. Gribbin creates an almost wistful picture of the solid, predictable universe understood by Newtonian physicists—a world in which immutable laws of nature governed every micron of movement in a clockwork system. How, then, could an electron be in two places at once, or move from one place to another without passing through the space between, or be in no definable place at all? John Gribbin explains the complexity of quantum mechanics, as well as the complex character of this quantum pioneer, in his signature, lucid approach that any curious mind can understand.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118299264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118299265
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Kirk on October 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Aided by a strong technical understanding and a robust research team, Gribbin's expository texts are many and his experience commendable in explaining, anticipating possible barriers to comprehension, and putting theory into perspective. In this biography of Schrodinger, he covers many topics that he has treated previously. He even invites his readers to skip the chapter on wave mechanics if they have read In Search of Schrodinger's Cat. I didn't skip it because I was finding this book, built on the writing and feedback of many earlier books, compellingly comprehensible. His explanation (p 140) of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is as simple as I've read. The book has good Notes, Further Reading and an excellent Index.

No doubt Gribbin's vast library of expository work helped him identify the opportunity to pull together a biography of Schrodinger. Physics was the major part of Schrodinger's life and Gribbin gets it right. Gribbin also investigates Schrodinger's life and times. While he doesn't pull any punches detailing Schodinger's romantic affairs, poor decisions and their consequences, the analysis helps us understand the man and is never prurient. The upheaval of early twentieth century Europe created physical and mental turmoil for Schrodinger and Gribbin's historical commentary is direct and cogent. Schrodinger tended to have one eye on his career and another on the future security of his family. While not discounting the unusual, almost ridiculous, positions into which Schrodinger placed himself, Gribbin reconciles the physicist's motivations well.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm Cameron on October 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution
by John Gribbin

Erwin Schrodinger was a brilliant and colorful physicist famous for his contribution to quantum mechanics, winning the Noble Prize in 1933 for his discovery of wave mechanics.

John Gribbin's has written a biography with a human touch. More than that, the book gives a clear workmanlike description and history of quantum mechanics using Schrodinger as the thread. And then continues the story to the present day. This revolution in physics is described from Schrodinger's personal viewpoint and his contributions against the political background of world events in this creative era in physics and biology.

Schrodinger's life is commendably shown in a sequence of photographs captioned to provide one level of understanding of the story concluding with the Schrodinger equation on his memorial. The book is dedicated to Terry Rudolph a more recent contributor to quantum mechanics who surprisingly discovered he is Erwin Schrodinger's grandson. Wishing to be his own person Terry assisted with the book but will not read it - "I don't want to second-guess myself"!

The author is to be applauded for this worthwhile method of tackling a biography. (Incidentally, the Amazon Book Description incorrectly claims this is "[t]he first accessible, in-depth biography of ... Edwin Schrodinger". In fact that title belongs to Walter Moore's book "Schrodinger: Life and Thought" 1989.)

Malcolm Cameron
20 October 2012
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Morris on May 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I liked Gribbin's detailed description of Erwin's life and exploits. We find that scientists have all the same warts and failings as us ordinary folk. But we only really know Schrodinger as a famous personage through his major contribution to physics: his famous equation. It was important enough that it appeared in my college chemistry book and was used there to develop the electron shell theory for chemical bonds. Were it not for this famous equation, we would not care about his warts or failings.

Although Gribbin knows that the sales of his book is inversely proportional to the number of equations contained within it, he needs to bite the bullet and take the wraps off the equation and give an explanation of it. I think this is a major shortcoming in his book.

Gribbin's earlier book, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, provided a very good layman's description of the practical and paradoxical aspects of quantum physics. (I would easily give that book 5 stars.) Besides describing Schrodinger's famous cat in the box paradox, it describes the double slit experiments whose demonstrated results still defy common (logical) explanation. So I was hoping that Gribbin's new book would treat Schrodinger's equation with the same zeal and dedication that he gave in his earlier book.

There is a very good book called QED written by Richard Feynman where he explains quantum electrodynamics for anyone with a simple background in high school mathematics and geometry. Feynman demonstrates that It is possible to describe something very complex and sublime in a simple and understandable way. I was hoping that Gribbin could do the same for Schrodinger's equation.

Other than that, I liked it.

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Luca turin on April 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Engaging, earnest, and well-researched book written without an ounce of pomposity. Schrodinger comes across as a likeable rogue, sex maniac and borderline child molester of genius, obsessed with getting a pension. His bigamous happiness in supposedly religious Ireland is a joy to read about, and his tragic lapse of judgment when back in Austria is explained better than I've ever seen before. Nice work, well worth reading.
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