Quantum mechanics stands as one of the most remarkable achievements of the 20th century, providing startling insight into the nature of matter and a spectacularly successful predictive theory. However, while the predictive ability of the quantum theory has been rigorously tested time and again, so that it now satisfies any criterion of reliability as a tool of scientific inquiry, fundamental difficulties remain with its interpretation.
The Mystery of the Quantum World, Second Edition introduces the philosophical issues raised by the success of the quantum theory and lucidly outlines the different points of view adopted by various physicists striving to understand the meaning underlying the theories used every day. The author encourages you to see how the most successful of physical theories is relevant to issues outside physics. Revised and expanded, this edition includes a new chapter that introduces the most important of the recent developments in quantum theory. The authoritative selection of topics ensures that readers already familiar with the first edition of the book will extend their knowledge of quantum theory, and those with no previous knowledge acquire an insight into this fascinating world.
Table of Contents
Preface to the 2nd edition. Preface. Acknowledgements. Reality in the quantum world: The quantum revolutions; External reality; The potential barrier and the breakdown of determinism; The experimental challenge to reality; Summary of chapter one. Quantum theory: The description of a particle in quantum theory; The wavefunction; The potential barrier according to quantum mechanics; Interference; Other applications of quantum theory; Summary of chapter two. Quantum theory and external reality: Review of the problem; The ensemble interpretation of quantum mechanics; The wavefunction as a measure of our knowledge; The wavefunction as part of external reality; Measurement in quantum theory; Interference and macroscopic objects; Can quantum mechanics be changed so that it will reduce wavefunctions? Summary of chapter three. Consciousness: The relevance of conscious observers: What is a conscious observer? Does wavefunction reduction require conscious observers? God as the conscious observer; The many-worlds interpretation; Summary of chapter four. Hidden variables and non-locality: Review of hidden-variable theories; The pilot wave; The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought experiment; Bell's theorem; Experimental verification of the non-local predictions of quantum theory; Can signals travel faster than light; Summary of chapter five. The mysteries of the quantum world: Where are we now? Quantum theory and relativity; Where do we go next? Early history and the Copenhagen interpretation; A bibliography and some recent opinions; A final plea for reality; A last look at the wavefunction; Conclusions. Recent developments: Models with explicit collapse; The Bohm model; Many worlds; Time and quantum theory; A peculiarly quantum measurement; Locality. Appendices. Index.
"… solid and reliable."
-The Good Book Guide
"… an excellent introduction to an interesting and ongoing field of research in physics for those who have some knowledge of quantum theory."
-A. Davies, Australian and New Zealand Physicist
"… a splendid book … a good reference for current undergraduates … there is an enormous amount to be learned from this book, both in terms of the quantum world itself and in terms of the spirit in which it might be enjoyed."
-Robert Lambourne, Physics Education
Praise for the Second Edition:
"His writing is … clear and commendably free from … mystification and hype …"
-John Polkinghorne (hononary professor of theoretical physics, University of Kent), Times Higher Education Supplement
"… outlines with great clarity the different points of view adopted by various schools of physicists who are striving to understand the meaning underlying the theories they use every day."
-INSPEC Science Abstracts
"There is much here to help the teacher develop, and to pass on to his students, the modes of thought which are appropriate for an understanding of this difficult subject."
-N.A. Dyson, HPA Bulletin
"... one of the best introductions to the mysteries of quantum theory for the reader without a background in physics and mathematics that has appeared."
-Lawrence Sklar (1-MI-Q), Mathematical Reviews