Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality: Solving the Quantum Mysteries

Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality: Solving the Quantum Mysteries


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In this eagerly anticipated sequel to the classic bestseller In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, John Gribbin digs even deeper into the mysterious and confounding world of quantum mechanics. Gribbin takes infinitely complex, mind-bending experiments, brings them to life, and makes them accessible to the lay reader. Under his deft guidance, we can begin to grasp the fundamental riddle of today's quantum mechanics: how a single photon can be seen going in two directions at once. Along the way, Gribbin reveals some fascinating discoveries: how quantum particles could one day be used in a Star Trek-type teleportation system, and how quantum cryptographers have developed ways of making unbreakable codes using quantum effects. Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality illuminates the world's most intriguing and enigmatic scientific phenomenon - and shows how the "impossible dreams" of such legendary scientists as Bohr, Feynman, and Einstein may soon become reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316328197
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/01/1996
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi
Preface vii
The light fantastic
Electronic interference
The standard view
The cat in the box
Another aspect of reality
The daughters of Schrodinger's cat.
Ancient Light
The first modern scientist
From Woolsthorpe to Cambridge-and back
In Newton's shadow
Newton's view of the world
Young ideas
Fresnel, Poisson, and the spot
The bookbinder's apprentice
Faraday's fields
The colours of magic
Maxwell's amazing equations.
Modern Times
The death of the ether
Towards a special theory of relativity
Einstein's insight
Faster than light/backwards in time
Enter the photon
The man who taught Einstein to count photons
The strange theory of light and matter
The triumph of QED
Light of future days.
Strange But True
Seeing impossible light
Shedding more light on light
Seeing double
Something for nothin
'Beam me aboard, Scotty'
Quantum cryptography
Inside the photon
Watching the quantum pot
The great electronic round-up
When is a photon?
Desperate Remedies
The Copenhagen collapse
I think, therefore
Von Neumann's silly mistake
The undivided whole
A proliferation of universes
Variations on a quantum theme
Counsels of despair
A relativistic aside
An experiment with time.
Thinking About Thinking About Things
Constructing quarks
Putting Einstein in perspective
Getting a grip on reality
The bulk-buying approach to quantum reality.
Making the most of mass
The simple face of complexity
Shaking hands with the Universe
Taking time to make time.
Bibliography 248(7)
Index 255


Exclusive Author Essay
Not many people know that I am a failed science fiction writer. I got into science through reading SF at a very early age (eight), and, like the clown who wants to play Hamlet (or the other way around), I always wanted to write fiction. Eventually, I managed to do so, learning the tricks of the trade through collaborations with two skilled novelists, Douglas Orgill and D. G. Compton. I even managed to get a couple of novels published all by myself -- counting the collaborations, I've published more novels than Joseph Heller. But not to such effect.

My agent complained about this, since apart from the first book I wrote with Douglas Orgill (The Sixth Winter) none of these novels were commercially successful. But a strange thing happened. Through the discipline of learning how to plot stories, build up suspense, and get inside believable characters, I found that my nonfiction writing was getting better. Even my agent had to agree. By writing novels, I became a much better science writer, even if the novels didn't succeed on their own terms.

It started out the other way around -- The Sixth Winter grew out of my interest in the nonfiction developments in the scientific study of climate change, and another collaboration with Douglas Orgill, Brother Esau, out of my interest in human evolution. Both appeared in the early 1980s, just before I set to work on what is still my best-known book, In Search of Schrödinger's Cat. Writing about science fact that reads like fiction (quantum physics) clearly benefited from the novel-writing! The circle from fact to fiction and back again was completed when I returned to the theme of human evolution in Being Human (written with my wife, Mary), and the storytelling aspect of writing fiction was particularly useful in a string of scientific biographies that I got involved with, including Richard Feynman: A Life in Science (also written with Mary).

Emboldened by this, I went back to writing fiction. I wrote my very best novel (The Sixth Winter included) and had a good publication deal lined up. Then, the publisher went bankrupt. I still have the novel, if anyone would like to take a chance on publishing it, but I've promised my agent not to write any more unless and until it sees the light of day. Even so, for those with eyes to see (as they say), my latest book, The Birth of Time, clearly bears the stamp of a writer who has been at least once around the fiction-writing block. Since this book deals (in part) with my own scientific work, it involved some personal storytelling which I could never have managed so well without that background.

So when people ask me who the biggest influences on my career have been, the answer has to be, first, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke (for their fiction, not their nonfiction), and then Douglas Orgill and David Compton, for teaching me how to do it. And I've not given up. Maybe I'll try a movie script....

John Gribbin is a visiting fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex and the author of many popular science books, including In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, Almost Everyone's Guide to Science, and Q Is for Quantum. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (a unique honor for a science writer).

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