A daring new vision of the quantum universe, and the scandals controversies, and questions that may illuminate our future--from Canada's leading mind on contemporary physics.
Quantum physics is the golden child of modern science. It is the basis of our understanding of atoms, radiation, and so much else, from elementary particles and basic forces to the behaviour of materials. But for a century it has also been the problem child of science, plagued by intense disagreements between its intellectual giants, from Albert Einstein to Stephen Hawking, over the strange paradoxes and implications that seem like the stuff of fantasy. Whether it's Schrödinger's cat--a creature that is simultaneously dead and alive--or a belief that the world does not exist independently of our observations of it, quantum theory is what challenges our fundamental assumptions about our reality.
In Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, globally renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin provocatively argues that the problems which have bedeviled quantum physics since its inception are unsolved for the simple reason that the theory is incomplete. There is more, waiting to be discovered. Our task--if we are to have simple answers to our simple questions about the universe we live in--must be to go beyond it to a description of the world on an atomic scale that makes sense.
In this vibrant and accessible book, Smolin takes us on a journey through the basics of quantum physics, introducing the stories of the experiments and figures that have transformed the field, before wrestling with the puzzles and conundrums that they present. Along the way, he illuminates the existing theories about the quantum world that might solve these problems, guiding us toward his own vision that embraces common sense realism.
If we are to have any hope of completing the revolution that Einstein began nearly a century ago, we must go beyond quantum mechanics as we know it to find a theory that will give us a complete description of nature. In Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, Lee Smolin brings us a step closer to resolving one of the greatest scientific controversies of our age.
LEE SMOLIN, a theoretical physicist of global standing, has made influential contributions to the search for a unification of physics. He is a founding faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. His previous books include Time Reborn, The Trouble with Physics, and Three Roads to Quantum Gravity. He lives in Toronto with his wife and son.
“Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution is at its best when it’s laying out these foundations for the realist vs. anti-realist arguments. Smolin’s description of how quantum mechanics works is both elegant and accessible using real world examples. . . . If you want to understand the basic issues at hand in these long running debates, as well at least one line of alternative, you will enjoy this book. . . . I deeply enjoyed Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution. . . . Smolin so clearly and expertly articulates his position that Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution becomes useful whether you agree, disagree or just want to learn some very cool ideas about physics and reality.” —Adam Frank, NPR
“Smolin is never less than an inventive and provocative thinker, as well as an engaging writer. . . . [H]is explanations are especially lucid.” —Philip Ball, Physics World
“A tantalizing glimpse of the theoretical possibilities beyond Einstein’s grasp.” —Booklist (starred review)
“[A]mbitious . . .upbeat and, finally, optimistic . . . Smolin is a lucid expositor.”—Graham Farmelo, Nature
“Full of extraordinary ideas . . . For anyone who would like the world to make sense, Lee Smolin’s proposition is appealing.”—The Times (UK)
“Smolin elucidates complex science without equations . . . [and] demonstrates there isn’t a thing in nature whose ‘contemplation cannot be a route to a wordless sense of wonder and gratitude just to be a part of it all.’” —Publishers Weekly
“This is a book about what it’s like to treat life as an uncompromising search for the nature of reality. It is about physics, but also our historical moment. Do we essentially know everything already? Are we only cleaning up details and consolidating our powers, or is humanity still mostly ignorant? Smolin starts with a scrupulously fair telling of recent ideas in physics, and then accelerates into a vision of the future of physics. Sentences that are as simple as possible, like elementary particles, populate the closing argument. Read them slowly. They cut deep.” —Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget
“The best explanation yet of what has yet to be explained.” —George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral
“Lee Smolin has written a superb and sweeping book. He takes us to Bohr, Bohm, Everett and far beyond in a masterful assessment, then on to the struggle to go beyond quantum mechanics towards quantum gravity. Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution is truly a fine work.” —Stuart Kauffman, author of At Home in the Universe