- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (June 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393076369
- ISBN-13: 978-0393076363
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival First Edition Edition
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“Starred Review. An enthusiastic account of a coterie of physicists who, during the 1970s, embraced New Age fads and sometimes went on to make dramatic discoveries…Readers will enjoy this entertaining chronicle of colorful young scientists whose sweeping curiosity turned up no hard evidence for psychic phenomena but led to new ways of looking into the equally bizarre quantum world.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Starred Review. Science has never been more unpredictable―or more entertaining!”
“It is hard to write a book about quantum mechanics that is at once intellectually serious and a page-turner. But David Kaiser succeeds in his account of a neglected but important group of physicists who brought together quantum mechanics, Eastern religion, parapsychology and the hallucinogen LSD. … Illuminating.”
- Hugh Gusterson, Nature
“Exhaustively and carefully researched. [Kaiser] has uncovered a wealth of revealing detail about the physicists involved, making for a very lively tale. … Fascinating.”
- American Scientist
“This entertaining, worthwhile read is as much about the nature of society at the dawn of the New Age as it is about quantum physics.”
“Kaiser’s style is engaging, which makes this history of the time when physics left the short-sleeved white shirts, skinny ties and plastic pocket protectors behind one of the best science books of the year.”
- Sacramento News & Review
“Meticulously researched and unapologetically romantic, How the Hippies Saved Physics makes the history of science fun again.”
- Matthew Wisnioski, Science
“How the Hippies Saved Physics takes readers on a mind-bending trip to the far horizons of science―a place where the counterculture’s search for a New Age of consciousness opened the door to a new era in physics. Who knew that the discipline that brought us the atom bomb had also glimpsed Utopia? Amazing.”
- Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture
From the Back Cover
Advance Praise for How the Hippies Saved Physics:
“This book takes us deep into the kaleidoscopic culture of the 1970s―with its pop-metaphysicians, dabblers in Eastern mysticism, and counterculture gurus―some of whom, it turns out, were also physicists seeking to challenge the foundations of their discipline. In David Kaiser’s hands, the story of how they succeeded―albeit in ways they never intended―makes a tremendously fun and eye-opening tale. As the physicist I. I. Rabi once remarked: ‘What [more] do you want, mermaids?’”―Ken Alder, author of The Measure of All Things and The Lie Detectors
“At first it sounds impossible, then like the opening line of a joke: What do the CIA, Werner Erhard’s EST, Bay Area hippie explorations, and the legacy of Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schroedinger have in common? It turns out, as David Kaiser shows, quite a lot. Here is a book that is immensely fun to read, gives insight into deep and increasingly consequential questions of physics, and transports the reader back into the heart of North Beach zaniness in the long 1960s. Put down your calculators and pick up this book!”―Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps
“What happens when you mix the foundations of quantum mechanics with hot tubs, ESP, saffron robes, and psychedelic drugs? How the Hippies Saved Physics chronicles the wild years of the 1970s when a group of largely unemployed physicists teamed up with LSD advocate Timothy Leary, EST founder Werner Erhard, telekinesist Uri Geller, and a host of other countercultural figures to mount a full-scale assault on physics orthodoxy. David Kaiser’s masterly ability to explain the most subtle and counterintuitive quantum effects, together with his ability to spin a ripping good yarn, make him the perfect guide to this far-off and far-out era of scientific wackiness.”―Seth Lloyd, author of Programming the Universe
“David Kaiser shows us the wonder, mystery, and joy of the scientific pursuit that helped define, and inspire, a particular moment within the counterculture. Some have seen and long appreciated these resonances, but no one has stated the case this authoritatively, this fully, and this colorfully, particularly from the science side of things. Clearly, this book signals, like the entangled photons with which it begins and ends, a fantastic new world of possibilities―historical, human, and scientific.”―Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
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Above and beyond telling an enthralling tale in its own right, it also reinforces and further elaborates on the themes of Kuhn's 'Structure of Scientific Revolutions' - providing a timely reminder that society's indispensable, progress-begetting edge is lost whenever too much heed is paid to establishmentarians, unimaginative thinkers aka self-styled hard-nosed realists, and bean counters.
A 'perfect storm' of unplanned but confluent events - budgetary constraints, the Vietnam War, and a few other non-linear events - led to the crucible that then enabled the coming together of an exceptional group of people in time and place.
We can only ardently wish that such conditions were enabled by design rather than by happenstance. However, society's pressures most often tend to work the other way - towards a stifling of free-thinking iconoclasm unmoored from immediate utilitarian concerns.
An indispensable book.
It describes the work and enthusiasms of a unique collection of individuals fascinated by Bell's Theorem and non-locality and all that it might entail however bizarre. Of course these days who isn't fascinated by such topics - with quantum encryption in use, quantum teleportation experimentally demonstrated, and full blooded quantum computers somewhere just over the horizon. But back in the late 1970s such an interest was a career-killer along with any discussion of foundations or any association with the 'paranormal'. The book also describes that in great detail with all of its implications. The mandarins of scientific orthodoxy should read their own foundation myths - Galileo et al - what role would theirs now correspond to back then? Of course having said that, a lot of it did turn out to be nonsense, revered performers exposed as fakes and hucksters. But really interesting nonsense well worth investigating. Some of it turned out to be the basis of new science and new technology which will soon enough take our breathe away. How can you expect to tell the difference without some serious investigation. These guys didn't hesitate and their work was magnificent.