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Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness [Kindle Edition]

Bruce Rosenblum , Fred Kuttner
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In trying to understand the atom, physicists built quantum mechanics, the most successful theory in science and the basis of one-third of our economy. They found, to their embarrassment, that with their theory, physics encounters consciousness. Authors Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner explain all this in non-technical terms with help from some fanciful stories and anecdotes about the theory's developers. They present the quantum mystery honestly, emphasizing what is and what is not speculation. Quantum Enigma's description of the experimental quantum facts, and the quantum theory explaining them, is undisputed. Interpreting what it all means, however, is heatedly controversial. But every interpretation of quantum physics involves consciousness. Rosenblum and Kuttner therefore turn to exploring consciousness itself--and encounter quantum mechanics. Free will and anthropic principles become crucial issues, and the connection of consciousness with the cosmos suggested by some leading quantum cosmologists is mind-blowing. Readers are brought to a boundary where the particular expertise of physicists is no longer the only sure guide. They will find, instead, the facts and hints provided by quantum mechanics and the ability to speculate for themselves.

In the few decades since the Bell's theorem experiments established the existence of entanglement (Einstein's "spooky action"), interest in the foundations, and the mysteries, of quantum mechanics has accelerated. In recent years, physicists, philosophers, computer engineers, and even biologists have expanded our realization of the significance of quantum phenomena. This second edition includes such advances. The authors have also drawn on many responses from readers and instructors to improve the clarity of the book's explanations.

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Editorial Reviews


"A remarkable and readable presentation."
--Charles Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics

"This book is unique.EL The clearest expositions I have ever seen."
--George Greenstein, Professor of Astronomy, Amherst College

"An immensely important and exciting book."
--Raymond Chester Russ, editor of Journal of Mind and Behavior

"Exposes the hidden skeleton in the physicist's closet."
--Nick Herbert, author of Quantum Reality

About the Author

Bruce Rosenblum is currently Professor of Physics, emeritus, at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has also consulted extensively for government and industry on technical and policy issues. His research has moved from molecular physics to condensed matter physics, and, after a foray into biophysics, has focused on fundamental issues in quantum mechanics.

Fred Kuttner is a Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He devotes most of his time to teaching physics after a career in industry, including two technology startups, and a second career in academic administration. His research interests have included the low temperature propoerties o solids and the thermal properties of magnets. For the last several years he has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics and the implications of the quantum theory.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1664 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199753814
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005H5O1DU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quatum Enigma: appreciating profound ignorance August 9, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a theoretical physicist but I must admit I did not fully appreciate the Quantum Enigma until I read the first edition of this book a few years ago. I first learned quantum mechanics over 40 years ago and have actively practiced it. That is, I used it to calculate theoretical predictions. It was only in the last 10 years or so that I asked myself, "What is the electron actually doing when light is emitted from an hydrogen atom?" After reading this book I realized the answer is, "Nobody has the slightest idea!" Fully appreciating the vast gap between the "classical" world we live in and the "quantum world" took some time for me. That kind of profound ignorance takes time to appreciate. I now better understand what I have read in biographical books about Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger. As the realization slowly set in as to what quantum mechanics was saying, these men and other physicists struggled with each other in an almost religious battle. Now over 80 years later we know no more than we did then. In the end, everyone has to come to appreciate the profound ignorance we have at this point in history. For any interested layman or scientist, the Quantum Enigma is a must-read item.
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281 of 314 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before reading this book my thinking on the interaction of quantum mechanics and consciousness was:

1. Quantum mechanics states that "nothing exists until it is measured."

2. An object can't be measured unless there is a conscious mind to measure it.

3. Therefore Quantum Mechanics implies that consciousness (God) created the universe.

This book was important to me because it broadened my understanding of the "enigma" that I have thought about for much of my life --- did consciousness create the universe or did the universe create consciousness?

It is miraculous that this book was ever written. Scientists, at least in their public lives, must rigorously separate their work from their philosophy or theology. It is career suicide for a scientist to even speculate on the idea of consciousness creating the universe. The authors have engaged in exactly that kind of speculation. They have trespassed into the forbidden encounter of consciousness with the universe.

The starting point is that even the most agnostic of physicists have pointed out how amazing it is that the universe, from its largest macrostructures to its tiniest subatomic particles, conforms to precise mathematical formulas conceived by the human brain. Why IS the universe so orderly when odds are it should have been disorderly? Was the universe conceived by the "Old One" (Einstein's reference to a Divine Creator)? Did the universe imbed itself in the creation of consciousness, or did consciousness imbed itself in the creation of the universe? Does OUR IMAGINING the past, present, and future bring it into being for our micro-universe of personal experience?
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging, Well-Written Book on a Difficult Subject October 22, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm an Aerospace Engineer. That said, this book DOES NOT read like a typical science text book, which is great.

The authors lay out fundamental concepts in a very succinct way, instead of overloading the reader with indepth expositions of natural laws. Basically, I'm not resorting to a guilt-trip to power me through the book or making bargains with myself on the acceptable length of time I will give the book until I finally put it down for good.

Quantum Enigma is compelling while outlining the basic physical theories and their history, lays down the frame work and structure of quantum theory and then BAM! Shows you the amazing boundary between modern physics and, well...what we may regard as mysticism in today's day and age. On it's own, it's also a great "intro" to the basics of what is known and affirmed within physics and quantum theory. Instead of discouraging inquiry (as somebooks do, solely by trying to impress the reader with "difficult" concepts that don't get fully explained), Quantum Enigma will make you want to know more through highly accessible writing that tells an awesome story.
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75 of 87 people found the following review helpful
"Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for insects as well as for the stars. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper." -- Albert Einstein

Since all natural phenomena are essentially interconnected, we need to comprehend them all in order to explain any one of them, an unachievable hard task. However, science has formulated the bootstrap model, "that represents the ultimate view of nature that arose in quantum theory with the realization of an essential and universal interrelationship." Quantum Interconnection attracted attention in the last decades; since physicists came to realize that the universe is inter-connected in much subtler ways than had once been thought. The "inter-dependence of all things" can be found in many mystical traditions. The 'observer' and the 'observed' in quantum physics, can no longer be separated and the whole takes precedence over the part. The founders of quantum mechanics debated the role of the observer, with Pauli and Heisenberg believing that it was the observer that produced collapse. This point of view, was never fully endorsed by Bohr, while denounced as mystical and anti-scientific by Einstein. Pauli accepted the term, calling Q M lucid mysticism. Some people claim that this idea gains support from the description of the physical world provided by quantum mechanics.

Heisenberg and Bohr always described quantum mechanics in logical positive terms, while Bohr believed that quantum theory offers a complete description of nature, and never drew a dividing line above which objects cease to be quantum and become classical.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars SECOND TRY TO SUBMIT
To bad you can't read the original. Quantum mechanics is good evidence that we are in a computer. Big bang and gravity are other important proof. Read more
Published 9 days ago by R. A POKATILOFF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 15 days ago by Aristides Collazo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is the best of its kind I have ever read.
Published 15 days ago by Denise Ambrozy
5.0 out of 5 stars Quantum weirdness - what does "reality" really mean?
The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Sir James Jeans (pg. 53, paperback). Read more
Published 16 days ago by fitzalling
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
OUTSTANDING...thanks Bruce.
Published 21 days ago by Jon Sherry
4.0 out of 5 stars Great way to get a better understanding of what quantum mechanics...
I won't say that after reading this book that I entirely understand the quantum enigma, or quantum physics to any sort of extant, but I will say I definitely have a better grasp of... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Jimmy Ganann
4.0 out of 5 stars Bring a physicist I found it highly repetitive and boring.
It is well written for non physicists. Bring a physicist I found it highly repetitive and boring.
Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
The consciousness part is completely irrelevant.
Published 1 month ago by JUAN JOSE GOMEZ IBARRA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a superb and pithy examination of Quantum theory its origins and evolution.
Published 1 month ago by knowit
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a great book.
Published 1 month ago by Michael Bohoskey
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