- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (April 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465075711
- ISBN-13: 978-0465075713
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics Hardcover – April 14, 2015
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About the Author
Paul Halpern is a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and the author of thirteen popular science books, most recently Edge of the Universe. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award. Halpern has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including "Future Quest," "Radio Times," several shows on the History Channel, and The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special. He has contributed opinion pieces for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is also a regular contributor to NOVA's "The Nature of Reality" physics blog. He lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.
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Einstein’s Dice and Schrodinger’s Cat is definitely a work not to be missed by science enthusiasts as well as anyone curious about the men behind many of the scientific theories taught today. I have also interviewed Dr. Halpern as part of my science in science fiction series and I can tell you that he is very dedicated to bringing science awareness to the greater public through social media, television, radio, and outreach in grade and high schools. I truly believe that his book will likewise significantly contribute to the essential popularization of science.
At least for me, where he makes it difficult for the lay reader is his discussion of the science of Einstein and Schrodinger. Before reading this book I would suggest that the lay reader become very acquainted with the equivalent of “quantum mechanics for dummies,” “relativity for dummies,” and “unified field theory” for dummies.” Alas with only one course of college level physics there were many parts of this book where I was lost. The book needs clearer examples of the theories and diagrams would be of great help.
Finally his title is somewhat of a misnomer. Neither Einstein nor Schrodinger, try as they might, never arrived at a unified theory of physics. Even today’s standard model which Halpern acknowledges does not account for the role of gravity while accounting for electromagnetism and weak and strong forces of nuclear interaction. With that last sentence I am way over my head.
My first problem is that the author attempts to give the lay reader a background in both quantum mechanics and relativity to provide some context. Admirable intention, but he stretches over far too much physics in far too little space. It's 17 years since I got my physics degree and I found this a useful reminder, but there is too much information for the lay reader.
My second problem is that the author tries to build in excessive biographical information. Both protagonists led unconventional love lives, but this is irrelevant to their late-in-life attempts to unify physics. Nevertheless, the author detours from the main thesis with plentiful information.
Each of them fell into conflict with the Third Reich. Einstein dealt with this speedily and simply: he got out and stayed out. Schrödinger had a significantly more complicated relationship and, again, irrelevant information is provided. Schrödinger found employment at a new Irish institute, and - guess what - we are given irrelevant information about the Irish political situation throughout the first half of the 20th century.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh on the author. He writes well and I was never tempted to give up on the book. I have no doubt that he could write (i) splendid popular science books on both quantum mechanics and relativity (ii) gripping biographies of both Einstein and Schrödinger and (iii) an authoritative history of physics under the Third Reich. But in trying to cover all of this in a single book, he has spread himself too thinly. I wish he'd devoted more space to the central theme and desisted from wandering, however engagingly, off the track.
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