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Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Collected papers on quantum philosophy) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0521368698 ISBN-10: 0521368693

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Product Details

  • Series: Collected papers on quantum philosophy
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 29, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521368693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521368698
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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"This book is lovely and thoughtful, and it should be read by everyone interested in fundamental questions of nature." American Journal of Physics

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Many people tend to treat the quantum formalism as sacred or untouchable. Not too many seem to question the relevancy of the undefined concepts of 'measurement', 'observer' and 'system' on which which QM stands. Can we really call a theory 'fundamental' when it rests upon undefined concepts? Reading this book is a pure pleasure mostly because it treats QM in a very simple and uncomplicated way. Some lines written in this book are almost poetic. This is a book for people really interested in foundations of QM and for those prepared to let go of quantum doctrines.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Bravo VINE VOICE on November 21, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a travesty that this book is out of print. Almost unbelievable, in fact. What is Cambridge University Press thinking?
This book is not destined to become a classic-- because It IS a classic ALREADY!! It is just one that hasn't been widely recognized yet.
That's only a matter of time.
Nowadays everyone and their uncle seems to be talking about Quantum Communication this and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen that-- and I guess with good reason, for we are now starting to see practical applications of this most esoteric of physics subfields.
However, it seems that the more non-intuitve and interesting a topic is, the more obfuscation (both intended and accidental) is written about it. (I'm not just talking about laymen and mystics, but physicists too!) Or, said another way, the more people talk, the less they really understand.
Forget all the rest of the [stuff] out there. Cut to chase. Read about the ESSENTIALS of what QUANTUM MECAHNICS really MEANS from one of the Masters of the field in about 15 short, lucid, crystal-clear essays.
There is some math here, but not much. That is the beauty and the danger of Quantum Mechanics-- because calculations are not that difficult in this field, people are lulled into thinking they really understand what it is they are calculating.
Well, most don't.
If you really want to get a grasp as to what it all MEANS-- forgetting the calculations for a moment--- you must read this book.
Feynman said that nobody really understood Quantum Mechanics. That may be so...
But John Stuart Bell came the closest.
You can't meet him at a conference anymore (he died in 1990,) but you CAN have him tutor you personally in this short, brilliant masterpiece.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
It would be difficult to find a more controversial topic in the philosophy of physics than what is discussed in this book. But its implications go beyond philosophy, in that some of the ideas in the book have been used in the attempts to build a quantum computer. Since it was written at a time when quantum computation was not taken as seriously as it is now, if at all, it is not surprising that experimental backing for the content is not included in the book. That such experimental evidence is lacking in the book is also a sign that such experiments are not conclusive in the verification of what the author expounds in the book. I can only speak for myself here, but having undertaken a painstaking look at the literature on the experiments purporting to verify entanglement and the "Bell inequalities", I have yet to find one that does so in a convincing way. The mathematical formalism employed by the author in the book allows him to prove some interesting theoretical conclusions, and those who work in the field of quantum computation even more so, but real-world experiments are lagging considerably behind these purely theoretical constructions.
The reader will find good discussions of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen and the de Broglie-Bohm delayed-choice "thought experiments" in the book, as well as a few other interesting discussions, such as the problem of hidden variables all from a pretty much philosophical viewpoint. The author however does not hesitate to use mathematical formalism where appropriate. Some of his conclusions will depend on what philosophical "school of thought" the reader is in. For example, in his discussion on hidden variables, he refers to the work of the mathematician Andrew Gleason on the impossibility of hidden variables.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric Dennis on January 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bell dispatches a number of quantum myths, most courteously and most irrevocably--in particular, regarding what quantum experiments require us to conclude about the world. E.g. #1 indeterminism; #2 nature (Schrodinger evolution) stops and sits on her hands when a "measurement" is made; #3 Bohr got the better of Einstein. Another interesting point of Bell: Bohm = many-worlds minus absurdity. I felt the urge to stand up and cheer certain passages. Also, a nice brain-teaser on Lorentz vs. Einstein relativity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ulfilas on April 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of 22 essays or journal articles written by theoretical physicist John S. Bell, a man who took it upon himself to develop a better understanding of quantum measurement than that left to us by Niels Bohr and his associates. At the same time, however, Bell sets up criteria to guard against the encroachment on this turf by the hidden variable theories first promoted by Einstein and de Broglie, and then further championed by Bohm and Everett. Ultimately, Bell's criteria look to experiment to settle the dispute brought on by the "spooky" non-locality and non-causality inherent in the Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation. According to Bell's friend Martinus Veltman in his historical retrospective on particle physics, Facts and Mysteries in Elementary Particle Physics, it was Bell's intention to put the claim of these hidden variable theories to rest. From what I have read in this book and in other treatments, it seems to me that Bell has succeeded in his quest. Nevertheless, as Bell clearly points out in these essays, the quest for an understanding of the presence and nature of quantum "spookyness" has been greatly aided by the development of hidden variable theories, especially by those developed by David Bohm (see Bohm and Hiley's The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory).
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