Quantum LeapsJeremy Bernstein
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Bernstein, a former New Yorker staff writer and prolific popular-science author, embarks on an almost quixotic attempt to explain the mysteries of quantum mechanics. It's a daunting topic. The legendary nuclear physicist Niels Bohr once said, “Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.” Bernstein seamlessly interweaves the story of his own growing fascination with quantum theory and the people who were influential in nurturing his career with the theoretical conundrums that abound in quantum theory. He also is very eclectic in the sources he draws on to explain some of the more remarkable aspects of quantum theory: the Dalai Lama, W. H. Auden and the plays of Tom Stoppard all provide relevant points of interest. The scientific explanations that comprise much of the book—the problems of measurement and entanglement, how particles of energy and matter can become predictably correlated over great distances—are earnest and, because of the nature of the topic, unavoidably difficult for the uninitiated. But this is a labor of love, and serious science readers will find it worthwhile. Publishers Weekly 20090803 Former New Yorker science writer Jeremy Bernstein revisits his own encounters with the quantum world, first as a student at Harvard and then throughout his storied career, which features a cast of characters including W. H. Auden, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Tom Stoppard. Along the way, he discusses the strange intersections of quantum mechanics with Marxism and mysticism. This is an eclectic book by someone who understands the physics and has observed its cultural consequences first-hand. — Saswato R. Das New Scientist 20091010 No subject in recent memory has generated as much nonsense as the weird realm of quantum mechanics...The great science-writer Jeremy Bernstein provides a wonderful antidote in this lucid, witty book, which draws on his firsthand acquaintance with many of the principal players in the development of quantum theory. — John Wilson Christianity Today 20090901 [Bernstein's] exposition of the quantum conundrums is clear and bracing, and a stimulating challenge. Quantum Leaps is an intellectual curiosity, redolent of the strange mental landscape inhabited by the world's greatest intellects. — Peter Forbes The Independent 20100107 A physicist-turned-prolific-writer, [Bernstein] is among the most engaging and thoughtful of quantum explainers, and Quantum Leaps provides one of the best concise guides available to what the fuss is all about. — Tom Siegfried Science News 20091205 An engaging little book by a unique figure in science writing. — Robert Fulford National Post 20100803