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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paul Halpern Narrator: Sean Runnette Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2015 ISBN: 9781481526272
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Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger were friends and comrades-in-arms against what they considered the most preposterous aspects of quantum physics: its indeterminacy. Einstein famously quipped that God does not play dice with the universe, and Schrödinger is equally well known for his thought experiment about the cat in the box who ends up “spread out” in a probabilistic state, neither wholly alive nor wholly dead. Both of these famous images arose from these two men’s dissatisfaction with quantum weirdness and with their assertion that underneath it all, there must be some essentially deterministic world. Even though it was Einstein’s own theories that made quantum mechanics possible, both he and Schrödinger could not bear the idea that the universe was, at its most fundamental level, random.

As the Second World War raged, both men struggled to produce a theory that would describe in full the universe’s ultimate design, first as collaborators, then as competitors. They both ultimately failed in their search for a Grand Unified Theory—not only because quantum mechanics is true but because Einstein and Schrödinger were also missing a key component: of the four forces we recognize today (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong force), only gravity and electromagnetism were known at the time.

Despite their failures, much of modern physics remains focused on the search for a Grand Unified Theory. As Halpern explains, the recent discovery of the Higgs boson makes the Standard Model—the closest thing we have to a unified theory—nearly complete. And while Einstein and Schrödinger tried and failed to explain everything in the cosmos through pure geometry, the development of string theory has, in its own quantum way, brought this idea back into vogue. As in so many things, even when he was wrong, Einstein couldn’t help but be right.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Halpern tells the entangled tale…with humor and concision.”

    Nature

  • “Fascinating and thought provoking…Halpern’s engaging account is a great human story and should be of interest as well to anyone fascinated by the still-unsolved questions that they pursued together.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “[A] fascinating book…Takes the time to explain the intricacies and significance of the two men’s work in wonderfully clear ways. He employs helpful analogies and metaphors to lower the reader gently into a strange new world…[written with] entertaining and evocative prose.”

    New Scientist

  • “A highly approachable book that will appeal to readers high school and up, who are interested in physics, the history of science, and the human and political aspects of scientists and their work.”

    Library Journal

  • “What Halpern plucks from obscurity is the revealing backstory of how Einstein claimed an improbable intellectual sibling in his quixotic fight against quantum randomness.…A tale of cosmic ambitions in earthbound men.”

    Booklist

  • “With verve, Halpern explores the fragile nature of scientific collaboration…Give Halpern serious credit for melding the wealth of math and physics that influenced both Einstein and Schrödinger’s work into a coherent whole…The author imbues the story with issues that touched the personal lives of both men…[and] ably explores the clashing personalities and worldviews that had physics in churning ferment during the early part of the twentieth century.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “With his trademark grace and clarity, Paul Halpern shines new light on the personalities, lives, and achievements of two of the twentieth century’s greatest theoretical physics, at the same time illuminating the fascinating interactions between the two. Halpern has a rare talent for bringing both the physics and the human stories to life.”

    Kenneth W. Ford, former director of the American Institute of Physics and author of 101 Quantum Questions

  • “Sean Runnette is an excellent narrator for this double biography of two great physicists…The author has a knack for explaining scientific concepts in comprehensible terms, no easy thing, and Runnette is up to the task, too. His command of technical terms and place names in English and German is almost flawless….He manages the almost impossible by consistently distinguishing the names of Max Born and Niels Bohr. (Halpern uses only last names.) This work is a significant addition to the intellectual history of twentieth-century physics.”

    AudioFile

  • A Publishers Weekly Pick for Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2015
  • A November 2015 Library Journal Bestseller in Physics
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