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The Unconscious Quantum Hardcover – November 1, 1995
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More About the Author
Moving to Los Angeles on a Hughes Aircraft Company fellowship, Dr. Stenger received a master's of science degree in physics from UCLA in 1959 and a PhD in physics in 1963. He then took a position on the faculty of the University of Hawaii, retiring to Colorado in 2000. He currently is emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. Dr. Stenger is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. Dr. Stenger has also held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford in England (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.
His research career spanned the period of great progress in elementary particle physics that ultimately led to the current standard model. He participated in experiments that helped establish the properties of strange particles, quarks, gluons, and neutrinos. He also helped pioneer the emerging fields of very high-energy gamma-ray and neutrino astronomy. In his last project before retiring, Dr. Stenger collaborated on the underground experiment in Japan that in 1998 showed for the first time that the neutrino has mass. The Japanese leader of this experiment shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for this work.
Victor Stenger has had a parallel career as an author of critically well-received popular-level books that interface between physics and cosmology and philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. These include: Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe (1988); Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World beyond the Senses (1990); The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (1995); Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (2000); Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003); The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come From? (2006); God: The Failed Hypothesis--How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007); Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness (2009); The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (2009); The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed for Us (2011); God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion (2012). God: The Failed Hypothesis made the New York Times Best Seller List in March 2007.
Vic and his wife, Phylliss, have been happily married since 1962 and have two children and four grandchildren. They now live in Lafayette, Colorado. They travel the world as often as they can.
Dr. Stenger maintains a website where much of his writing can be found, at http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger.
Top Customer Reviews
The problems arising around quantum mechanics can be analyzed using the famous Bell equation, which Stenger develops extremely nicely (although it helps to be able to read the simple algebra in the optional 'boxes'). The violation of Bell's inequality, he argues (drawing on many technical papers and books) violates either Determinism + Locality or Separability + Locality, or Completeness + Locality (all terms well defined in the book). He argues strongly that quantum mechanics does not violate Locality itself,which Stenger takes as very important to maintain.
Stenger presents the classical Copenhagen interpretation of the collapse of the wave function, as well as Bohm's hidden variable interpretation, the many-worlds interpretation, and the most recent (and to my mind satisfying) decoherence approach.
The Unconscious Quantum's main message is that modern physics provides absolutely no support for New Age and more traditionally religious notions of supernaturalism. Stenger is refreshing in not denying the existence of spirituality, but holding that the world of spirituality does not, as far as we know, intersect the natural world described in the natural sciences. "While I cannot bring myself to worship a hypothesis," he notes, "I have no wish to disparage those who do. I simply ask that they not assume that science, in its current state, provides any buttress for their belief...Read more ›
Stenger repeatedly belittles alternate interpretations of QM and points out that functionally all serious interpretations are the same. This means that the interpretations he favors have no more going for them technically than the ones he derides.Read more ›
The book could be better. It would be nice if he spent a bit more time discussing some of the confusion regarding 'mind', but I think he has done a good job of laying out the basic issues for the well-educated lay person, and of urging skepticism before seizing upon strange phenomena as a justification for one's metaphysics.
Stenger acknowledges that the microworld of quanta cannot be viewed in the same way as the macroworld of concrete objects that make up our everyday experience. However, if people are willing to suspend their everyday intuition and accept some very logical but unintuitive concepts, like time symmetry and decoherence, then the quantum world makes perfect sense without mastering Zen or contemplating your navel.
Stenger also shoots down the ideas of consciousness directly affecting the physical world, and faster-than-light communication between quantum particles. He explains the EPR "paradox" and other experiments which spawned these interpretations, and how they can easily be resolved using the simple but unintuitive concepts already mentioned.
The text is written for the science amateur, and requires little background knowledge, but some persistence with technical concepts (you may have to read a few parts twice to get the idea). Supporting equations are included in boxes, separate from the text. The text stands alone, but mathaholics are welcome to indulge themselves in the formulae. The first six chapters are the most technical, but it gets much easier after that, and it's definitely worth it for anbody who wants a genuine understanding of quantum physics, sans the mystical rhetoric that pervades most pop literature on the subject.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It can be very dense to read at times, but the content is phenomenal. Anyone interested in a mix of psychology, neurology, quantum mechanics, and philosophy should consider reading... Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by CollinS
Way over my head and excessably wordy. I didn't finish the book. I will buy other books by Victor Stenger however, as I have enjoyed several other books by him.Published on April 8, 2013 by Donald E. Gould
I didn't necessarily agree with some of Stenger's arguments, but thought he explained a number of things in Quantum theory that I couldn't grasp from other authors. Read morePublished on August 16, 2011 by U Dream
Stenger sets himself up against almost all of the major figures of 20th century quantum mechanics in denying the existence of nonlocality (action at a distance). Read morePublished on October 3, 2001 by Christopher Carter
Stenger is quite right that there is a lot of sloppy thought and unjustified claims in the popular New Age, New Paradigm movement. Read morePublished on February 8, 2001 by Thomas J. McFarlane
This is a refreshing alternative to the consciousness nonsense and second-hand explanations by reporters. Read morePublished on October 2, 2000 by Not a Clue
Stenger is a physicist completely at home in contemporary mathematical physics, yet incurably curious about the deeper philosophical issues brought up by quantum mechanics. Read morePublished on August 4, 2000 by Herbert Gintis
Boy you know, just reading one paragraph of Victor Stenger's writing makes it apparent that he's closed minded and filled with tons of a priori assumptions that he doesn't even... Read morePublished on May 19, 2000 by Winston Wu