- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1st Edition edition (October 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465097588
- ISBN-13: 978-0465097586
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality 1st Edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Feynman was a doer, Wheeler a dreamer. So Paul Halpern aptly describes them in The Quantum Labyrinth, his book about their lives, work and friendship, and the virtues of their complementary styles....Feynman was one of the greatest intuitive problem-solvers in twentieth-century physics, a world-class doer. But I suspect that many readers will take most pleasure from the account of Wheeler's inspired dreaming."―Nature
"Paul Halpern brings the full story of these men to life in a brilliant way...Feynman's contributions to the development of quantum field theory...are not only covered, they're explained in gloriously in-depth and simultaneously comprehensible fashion...Well-researched, well-written, and highly accessible."
―Forbes.com/Starts With a Bang
"[The Quantum Labyrinth] provides a portrait of a rather neglected era in physics. Following the twin revolutions of quantum theory and relativity in the early 1900s, the 1940s to the late 1960s can appear like a time when already challenging ideas became all but incomprehensible beyond the academy. But Halpern shows that it was every bit as significant as the pre-war period that looks now to be an age almost of gods and legends."―Physics World
"Readers soon see that Feynman achieved his breakthroughs in physics by collaborating with his mentor, John Wheeler...With the same clarity that has attracted readers to Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat and his other books of popular science, Halpern retraces the way this unlikely pair smashed traditional understandings of time...A compelling reminder that even the most triumphant science comes from vulnerable humans."―Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Paul Halpern is a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and the author of fifteen popular science books, most recently Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Scientific biographies, on the other hand, often tend to focus on the lives of their subjects while making little effort to describe and explain the details of their scientific ideas and discoveries. This is, I suppose, to be expected, since such biographies are seldom written by physicists who fully understand, and thus can effectively convey, those highly complex ideas to non-scientist readers. A happy medium, for me, would be a book that explores both the personal and the scientific dimensions of these breakthroughs in the realm of physics. And here is where The Quantum Labyrinth shines.
The author, Paul Halpern, is a physicist. Happily, he has a gift for explaining complex, often purely mathematical concepts in physics – including the bizarre and non-intuitive behavior of matter at the sub-atomic scale described by the theory of quantum mechanics -- in a way which is engaging and, at least in my case, somewhat understandable. But he presents those explanations in both their historical context, as well as in the context of the personal lives and relationships of the people who developed them. His primary subjects are two of the greatest minds of 20th century physics – Richard Feynman and John Archibald Wheeler – whose friendship began when Feynman began his graduate work at Princeton and was assigned to be Wheeler’s teaching assistant. The book explores their unique personalities as well as the development of their scientific ideas -- and their friendship – over the course of many eventful decades.
But it doesn’t stop with Feynman and Wheeler; it includes many fascinating glimpses into their collaborations -- and their conflicts -- with other great physicists of their time, and shows how the newly emerging understanding of quantum mechanics – as well as many other breakthroughs – developed along many different pathways through the 20th century as a result of these collaborations. Familiar names from that era of science – Einstein (of course), Bohr, Dirac, Shroedinger, Heisenberg, Oppenheimer, and many others – all make an appearance, and Halpern makes an effort to show us who they were as people, not just as scientific icons. Particularly fascinating to me was the way their scientific breakthroughs ultimately became critical in the struggle to defeat the Axis powers in World War II, and how these scientists coped with being “drafted” into the war effort.
In sum, I heartily recommend this book for those interested in the history of science generally, the development of 20th century physics particularly, and in the fascinating lives of those whose extraordinary work gave us the world we live in today.
Paul Halpern has managed this with polished acumen.
Feynman was Wheeler’s PhD student. They carried out a lot of collaborative work, wrote a lot of papers together and had a lot of fun. What is original about this book is Halpern’s description of the way they set about it. What they actually worked on is not easy to describe in lay terms, and I certainly can’t manage the math, which is the real language theoretical physicists speak. It’s a language they invent as they go along and the experimental boys check it out to see if it works. Having a truly ground-breaking idea which is then proven experimentally is the way to pick up the Swedish prize. Feynman did this with quantum electrodynamics and LIGO did it with gravitational waves. Both Feynman and Wheeler had wide-ranging interests which led Feynman to work out why the Space Shuttle crashed in 1986, and Wheeler to think about black holes, which he described in terms of quantum information technology, which might well be the way forward for quantising General relativity.
History is very important in physics. How and when a theoretical physicist came up with a ground-breaking idea is at least as important as what he came up with. Halpern explains all this in such an expert way that you don’t even have to understand what Feynman and Wheeler discovered to enjoy this book. I enjoyed it immensely and can thoroughly recommend it.