Sneaking a Look at God's Cards: Unraveling the Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics Revised Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0691130378
ISBN-10: 069113037X
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Editorial Reviews


"From the earliest days of the theory, confusion about its interpretation engendered a continuing series of debates. . . . Ghirardi's book provides a careful, evenhanded and well thought-out introduction to this timely topic."--Peter Woit, American Scientist

"This is an excellent translation of a magnificent book. . . . [T]he Italian physicist GianCarlo Ghirardi gives a non-technical and critical exposition of deep facts about the foundations of quantum mechanics."--Adonai S. Sant' Anna, Mathematical Reviews

"[A] sweeping treatment of one of the most unfathomable yet important scientific frameworks of our time."--Cait Goldberg, Science News

"This remarkable book provides a careful and nontechnical introduction to the fundamental epistemological questions of quantum mechanics. . . . [I]t sets out with an in-depth discussion of the conceptual revolution brought about by the transition from a classical to a quantum description of the physical world. . . . All in all a marvelous and thought provoking book by one of the leading scientists in the field."--M. Kunzinger, Monatschefte für Mathematik

"A modern overview of the state of quantum theory. . . The breadth and depth are very impressive."--Choice

From the Inside Flap

"This is a tremendous and wonderful book for novices and experts alike. It provides a lucid and insightful look into the empirical and conceptual problems handled so successfully by quantum theory. Ghirardi also leads us through the debates concerning the interpretation and meaning of this tantalizing and fascinating theory--debates in which he himself has been one of the major participants."--Bas C. van Fraassen, Princeton University

"This impressive book leads the lay reader to a real understanding of the problems of interpreting quantum mechanics. It is a well-balanced, indeed wise, book, which will stand the test of time as an intellectually responsible introduction to the field. It is also so far as I know the first book at its level to have chapters on the important topics of quantum cryptography and quantum computation."--Jeremy Butterfield, University of Oxford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised edition (March 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069113037X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691130378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By UncleJ on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very comprehensive introduction to the foundations of quantum mechanics for the sophisticated lay person who is willing to think and work through the examples and explanations.If you do the work you will really learn something--as opposed to popularizations that only give you the feeling of understanding--usually an illusion. No math background is assumed but the less math exposure you have the harder you have to work. I have read numerous popularizations--this is one of the very best. In particular it clearly and evenhandedly addresses the alternative interpretations of the quantum formalism pointing out the various myths and popular misconceptions that one can find in both popular and technical literature, the mistakes of Popper and Pais among them. The historical progression from the first versions of the Copenhagen Interpretations up through von Neumann's theorem, and Einstein's challenges(for once Einstein is treated fairly--not as an old geezer who was stuck in the past) through Bohm's 'hidden variables' approach, to Bell's analysis of nonlocality is especially good. It is often hard to keep straight the various logical twists and turns of the competing interpretations but Ghirardi continually recaps the arguments and clarifies the the different points of view. This book is in the league with Albert's and Gibbin's introductions to the philosophy of quantum mechanics.It is often useful to have more than one such book so that when you get stuck in one maybe the other has a clearer explanation. Also you could use this book in conjunction with Prof. Leonard Susskind"s quantum mechanics for the rest of us video lectures (9) on Stanford University itunes (FREE).
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book I've seen on quantum mechanics. It's probably too hard to follow without some scientific experience on the part of the reader. But it is the only book I know of (and I'm aware of most) that really covers the conceptual issues of the entire subject in an open-minded non-romantic, non-mystical and realistic way. Very refreshing. A gem.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By white gold wielder on December 6, 2011
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You must NOT miss this book, if you are interested in foundational issues in quantum. Some may think its exaggeration, but I call this the best book outside of John S. Bell's own classic "Speakable" text. I would rate Ghirardi's work 6 stars out of 5, if I could(!)

I was unaware until recently that such an outstanding text exists, and what a pleasant surprise to find it. "God's Cards" does a terrific job in just about every way: it offers nice historical introduction including concise summaries of positions of famous physicists (not just Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg and Schroedinger, but others who played a role, as well). The conceptual approach is performed in a gradual and careful way, with outstanding physical examples using optics and polarization. I've simply never seen such clear physical examples of quantum mechanical concepts and these alone make the book more than worthwhile.

When the author brings the reader to topics such as Einstein Podolsky Rosen and Bell's Theorem, the reader is well-prepared to get right to the heart of the matter and Ghriardi's clear prose brings the concepts home admirably.

While these latter topics also receive very nice (but brief!) treatment in Brian Greene's well known The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality Ghirardi offers much more detail and depth on the background issues at stake.

But Ghriardi does not content himself with giving reader's a great understanding of EPR and Bell. He then goes on to discuss experiments to test quantum predictions in comparison with Bell's inequality, additional objections and interpretations of these analyses.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Storey on November 16, 2009
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The public fascination with modern physics, particularly the strange world of quantum mechanics, seems to be growing and growing. This, like most fads, has both good and bad points - the good being the public is interested in science and seems to want to learn more; the bad being, well, many pop books have arisen exploiting the public's interest in these exotic topics, some of which tend to be written on a casual level - or worse, a quack level- and can therefore be fairly misleading.

That doesn't concern us here. Enter a fairly new book on quantum mechanics geared toward the popular level (superbly translated from the Italian by Gerald Malsbary), but the difference this time is, author Giancarlo Ghirardi is not only a theoretical physicist, he is actively involved in quantum foundational questions. Indeed, Ghirardi is one of the originators of an influential interpretation (more accurately, a "rival" scheme, we'll get into that later) of QM. So here we have the rare treat of an expert in quantum foundations sharing the challenges and struggles of his craft with the public. One couldn't ask for more in this regard. Nonetheless, when I say the book is geared toward the "popular" level, readers should realize the book is demanding. While equations illustrating key points are kept to a minimum and can be ignored to get the gist of his arguments, Ghirardi is very thorough in his description of the microphysics and the epistemological interpretation problems involved, as we might expect coming from an eminent physicist with a keen interest in these areas. Lay folks expecting an easy ride, even assuming some prior familiarity with the concepts, are in for a bumpy journey. One should realize this is a serious treatment of the issues.
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