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The World According to Quantum Mechanics: Why the Laws of Physics Make Perfect Sense After All Hardcover – March 31, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-9814293372 ISBN-10: 9814293377

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814293377
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814293372
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,289,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Henning Dekant on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Richard Feynman famously stated "I think it is safe to say that no one understands Quantum Mechanics."

This book is changing that. Although so far I have only read up to chapter 5, it looks like this unexpected treatise lives up to its preposterous subtitle.

The way Ulrich Mohrhoff introduces QM everything flows from the basic rules of calculating with probabilities and the uncertainty relation. The latter in turn is a logical requirement for stable matter and quite a misnomer in English (surprisingly the original German term "Unschaerferelation" captures its meaning significantly better).

Reading chapter 5 has been a most humbling experience. I studied physics and have always been captivated by the particle wave dualism that the classical two slit experiment embodies so beautifully. Feynman observed that this "experiment has in it the heart of quantum mechanics". Well, I feel like eating my heart out.

The way this book covers the two slit experiment everything falls into place and makes perfect sense. There is no wave particle dualism, just the naked necessity of a probabilistic regime. It is so simple. Painfully obvious. Easy to grasp with just a minimum of mathematical rigor. It boggles the mind that QM has not been understood this way from the get go. This feels like 20/20 hindsight writ large.

To add insult to injury, this is written as a text book that'll be easily accessible for an enterprising high school student, because it briefly introduces all necessary mathematical tools along the way. I.e. a physicist can easily skip these parts as they are cleanly separated from the chapters in which the author executes his QM program.

If you've been trying to make sense of QM you will hate this book. It'll make you feel stupid for not having been able to see this all along. Time to eat some humble pie.

I'll report back once I read the rest.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Icazuriaga on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For those who have been following Mohrhoff's revealing ideas during the last decade (the so called "Pondicherry Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics"), this book adds a few very important points to what is already one of the most comprehensive and consistent interpretations of the fundamental laws of physics that anyone has put forward up to the present date.

He obviously didn't start this journey one fortunate Monday morning. He is following the steps of people like Bohr, Peres, Mermin and many other physicists who have contributed greatly to one and the same philosophical project: the de-reification of quantum-mechanical correlation laws, and the enormous implications that this carries for our understanding of physical reality.

This book is probably the best synthesis of that long-standing project. Its merit not only lies in taking a few isolated ideas about QM's probability algorithms and integrate them into an overall consistent view, which would be a huge achievement in itself, but first and foremost, to explain classical mechanics and classical conservation laws as part of (in the limit of) that same fuzzy state of affairs.

In this way, he very cleverly differentiates between what an equation of continuity says and what a local conservation law is, basically "a feature of our calculational tools". Key concepts like energy and momentum are introduced as underpinning the homogeneity of time and space respectively, instead of being just symbols in an abstract equation. On the other hand, the deceptive idea of force, deeply entrenched in our perception of a physical world, is redefined in a way that permits us to make sense of the Lorentz force law and the gravitational force as not being a mediating agent between causes and effects.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Pete J on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in how mysticism can be connected up with physics in a practical way, to the benefit of physics, and without any beating around the bush, this book may be a godsend.

The mathematics of quantum mechanics is well beyond the comprehension of most people and for the most part it goes straight over my head. This text book, which seems to be a thorough introduction to this mathematics, complete with challenging exercises, is therefore unlikely to become a popular best-seller. It is also expensive, having the worst word-to-price ratio of any book I've ever bought. However, I'm glad I bought it. It is possible even for the non-mathematician to see at least how the various mathematical approaches fit together and why they are needed, while the real heart of the book is the interpretation it places on the mathematics and this is explained economically and in plain English.

Quantum theory is astonishingly successful despite the utter lunacy of its mathematics, but it rules out any hope of our ever being able to conceive of what it describes by the use of everyday `classical' concepts. We don't have any other kind of concepts, so we cannot conceive of what it describes. Whatever it describes would have to be vastly more weird and wonderful than anything we observe in our everyday world. So what are we to do? Must we accept that the way have to describe Nature must always remain incomprehensible to us?

While explaining why interpretations of quantum mechanics that try to accommodate classical intuitions are impossible, rendering futile any hope of creating a picture in our heads of what lies behind the mathematics, Mohrhoff quotes Dennis Diecks, Professor of the Foundations and Philosophy of the Natural Sciences at Utrecht University.
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More About the Author

Ulrich Mohrhoff joined the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE), Pondicherry (India), as an undergraduate student in 1972. From 1974 to 1978 he studied physics at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (India). Since his settling in Pondicherry in 1978 he pursues independent research in the foundations of physics and at the interface of physics and Indian philosophy/psychology. In 1996 he began publishing original research in various peer-reviewed journals. Since 2000 he teaches a philosophically oriented course of contemporary physics to higher secondary and undergraduate students at the SAICE.

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The World According to Quantum Mechanics: Why the Laws of Physics Make Perfect Sense After All
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