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Quantum Paradoxes: Quantum Theory for the Perplexed

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-3527403912
ISBN-10: 3527403914
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Editorial Reviews


"This is a wonderful book for everyone who wishes to deep the knowledge and understanding of the foundations of quantum mechanics.[...] As a whole, "Quantum Paradoxes. Quantum Theory for the Perplexed" is an exclusively rare and inspirational book on quantum mechanics that explores the never-ending mysterious quantum paradoxes to bring the readers to the QuantumWonderland. This book I do believe should be recommended to everyone."
Zentralblatt MATH

From the Back Cover

Yakir Aharonov is one of the pioneers in measuring theory, the nature of quantum correlations, superselection rules, and geometric phases and, as such, has made monumental contributions to theoretical physics. Together with Daniel Rohrlich of the Weizmann Institute, Israel, he has written here a groundbreaking work on the remaining mysteries of quantum mechanics. With both students as well as researchers in mind, the authors provide an insight into that part of the field that led Feynman to declare "nobody understands quantum mechanics".

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-VCH (April 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3527403914
  • ISBN-13: 978-3527403912
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,947,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Steiner on August 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Understanding how to calculate quantum mechanics does not provide an understanding of quantum mechanics. This book addresses understanding quantum mechanics at a deeper level than calculations provide. Aharonov and Rohrlich organize "Quantum Paradoxes" not by examining progressively more complicated quantum systems to calculate as in conventional textbooks (i.e. first one dimensional potentials, later three dimensional, etc.) but by analyzing paradoxical phenomena to enhance understanding. Novel techniques for making nondisturbing measurement devised by Aharonov and collaborators are presented. These new types of measurements lead to sometimes surprising insights into what is essentially "quantum" about quantum mechanics and the many ways in which a quantum system can be probed. There are numerous subject areas covered throughout "Quantum Paradoxes", but I will review the Aharonov-Bohm (AB) effect, quantum measurement, and a particular type of measurement called weak measurement.

One might expect that if an electron passes through a double slit in which neither region after the slit has an electric or magnetic field, then there will be no effect on the electron. However, it turns out that there is an observable non-local quantum effect, which shifts the interference pattern. This remarkable prediction by AB is presented in Chapter 4 very clearly for two different cases. In one case there is a capacitor in the middle of the slits whereby there is an electric field inside the plates of the capacitor but there is no electric field where the electron emerges through either slit. In another case there is an inductor in the middle that causes a magnetic field again in a limited region but is zero where the electron moves through the slits.
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Format: Paperback
I obtained this book through interlibrary loan, with the intention of buying it if it looked as if it would repay careful study. I decided against buying it for reasons described below.

The loan period was only ten days, and I was only able to read the first eight chapters (about half the book) in this time. However, I did look over the rest, and its flavor seemed typical of the chapters that I did read. Most of the authors' arguments are exceedingly vague.

The preface begins:


"*Quantum Paradoxes* is a series of studies in quantum theory. Each chapter begins with a paradox motivating the study ... of a fundamental aspect of the theory. ...
The studies, taken together, set out a new interpretation of quantum theory.''


Before continuing, I should remark that the precise content of the "new interpretation of quantum theory" escaped me. Indeed, I wouldn't have guessed that the book contained such an interpretation had it not been for the above quote. Perhaps the "new interpretation" is implicitly contained in the chapters which I didn't have time to read carefully.

The authors seem to use the word "paradox" in the sense of "any unexpected result of a calculation" (my interpretation, not a quote from the book). Most of their "paradox"-yielding calculations are of the hand-waving variety. None of them seemed to me to justify the term "paradox".

For example, the Aharanov-Bohm effect demonstrates that a magnetic field can have an observable effect on electrons even when the field is confined to a region which the electrons never enter.
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Format: Paperback
I started reading this book because I have often read about the interesting Bohm-Aharonov Effect (which I will henceforth refer to as BAE), and therefore imagined that a book coauthored by Aharonov would be insightful and interesting. I am happy to report that my hunch has proved to be correct! Indeed, this book is full of interesting ideas, some of which are associated with the BAE, some from Ahronnov's association with David Bohm, and some from other sources. The authors treat the BAE in a way that is distinctly different from that in other books by placing it in a wider context.

The authors see the BAE as related to a quantum paradox, proposed by Einstein and countered by Bohr, in which an attempt is made to determine which of two slits a diffracted electron passes on its way to the detector. Einstein considered the possibility that the recoil (as mandated by momentum conservation) of the aperture containing the two slits could be used to determine the slit through which the electron passed. Bohr, however, countered with the observation that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle made such a position determination (based on a momentum-based recoil measurement) impossible due to the associated limits on the simultaneous accuracy in measuring conjugate variables like momentum and position.

The authors link the BAE to this two-slit measurement question by imagining the effect of the diffracted electron on either a parallel plate capacitor and its internal electric field, or a solenoid and its internal magnetic field--either of which would be positioned between the two slits and therefore sensitive to the slit through which the electron might pass.
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