The fascinating story of how quantum mechanics went mainstream
The discovery of the quantum—the idea, born in the early 1900s in a remote corner of physics, that energy comes in finite packets instead of infinitely divisible quantities—planted a rich set of metaphors in the popular imagination.
Quantum imagery and language now bombard us like an endless stream of photons. Phrases such as multiverse, quantum leap, alternate universe, the uncertainty principle, and Schrödinger's cat get reinvented continually in cartoons and movies, coffee mugs and T-shirts, and fiction and philosophy—phrases reinterpreted by each new generation of artists and writers.
Is a quantum leap big or small? How uncertain is the uncertainty principle? Is this barrage of quantum vocabulary pretentious and wacky or a fundamental shift in the way we think?
All of the above, say Robert P. Crease and Alfred Scharff Goldhaber in this groundbreaking book. The authors—one a philosopher, the other a physicist—draw on their training and six years of co-teaching to dramatize the quantum's rocky path from scientific theory to public understanding. Together, they and their students explored missteps, mistranslations, jokes, and gibberish in public discussions of the quantum. Their book explores the quantum's manifestations in everything from art and sculpture to the prose of John Updike and David Foster Wallace. The authors reveal the quantum's implications for knowledge, metaphor, intellectual exchange, and the contemporary world. Understanding and appreciating quantum language and imagery, and recognizing its misuse, is part of what it means to be an educated person today.
The result is a celebration of language at the interface of physics and culture, perfect for anyone drawn to the infinite variety of ideas.
Download and start listening now!
“Through the authors’ careful and vivid
storytelling, science and culture inspire and reflect one another, from
Einstein’s theories of relativity to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to
modern conceptions of causality. The authors keep their discussions of these
dense topics clear and fun to read without sacrificing detail…Crease and
Goldhaber provide an excellent reminder that quantum mechanics affects so much
of what we do and say and that concepts imagined one hundred years ago will
influence the physical and intellectual spaces we inhabit in the future. Always
entertaining and meticulously composed, this book will reorient your
relationship with the quantum.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
want to comprehend quantum physics, creativity, metaphor in physics, and
the history of modern quantum physics will enjoy this work. A lighter
read than a science text, this is more accessible to the average person
and will be enjoyed by creative readers who have a scientific leaning.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Readers will learn to appreciate the imaginative
process that transforms quantum formulas into new metaphors for understanding
the human condition. An exhilarating romp for the intellectually adventurous!”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Histories of quantum theory are typically dense with complex, abstract
ideas, but philosopher Crease and physicist Goldhaber, both of Stony
Brook University, offer a new twist, adding a fascinating look at the
ways the mainstream world has embraced (though not always accurately!)
the concepts of quantum mechanics…Crease and Goldhaber have
written an accessible and entertaining history that embraces both the
science and the silliness of quantum mechanics.”
— Publishers Weekly
“This is an amazing book for scientists and humanists alike! Every page
yields surprises—not only about the complex history of quantum physics
but about how it impacts our understanding of ourselves in daily life.
Required reading for anyone concerned with casting the fate of humankind
in a radically new light.”
— Edward S. Casey, author of The World at a Glance
“A fascinating tour of the lives and afterlives of some of the most captivating concepts of quantum theory.”
— David Kaiser, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics
“A delight! A tour de force that is both illuminating and extraordinarily readable.”
— Gino Segrè, author of Ordinary Geniuses: How Two Mavericks Shaped Modern Science
“Reading The Quantum Moment is a very fun way to learn about where quantum physics comes from and the strange, even astonishing places it has gone with or without the physicists for whom it is the language of their craft.”
— Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps, professor of science and physics, Harvard University
The Quantum Moment Listener Reviews
Be the first to write a review about this audiobook!
About the Authors
Robert P. Crease is a professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York. He is the
organizer of the Trust Institute at Stony Brook, which presents interdisciplinary
programs about contemporary issues. His articles and reviews have appeared in the
Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and elsewhere. He writes a monthly column, Critical Point, on
the social dimensions of science for Physics
World magazine. His books include The
Great Equations and World in the
Balance, among others. He lives in New York City with his family.
Alfred Scharff Goldhaber is a professor in the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and a 2014 winner of the State University of New York Chancellors Award in Scholarship and Creative Activity. He teaches an unorthodox course approaching quantum mechanics through optics.
About Sean Runnette
Sean Runnette, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, has also directed and produced more than two hundred audiobooks, including several Audie Award winners. He is a member of the American Repertory Theater company and has toured the United States and internationally with ART and Mabou Mines. His television and film appearances include Two If by Sea, Cop Land, Sex and the City, Law & Order, the award-winning film Easter, and numerous commercials.