Oxford University Press, August 2006
The most successful theory in all of science -- and the basis of one-third of our economy -- says the strangest things about the world and about us. Can you believe that physical reality is created by our observation of it? Physicists were forced to this conclusion, the quantum enigma, by what they observed in their laboratories.
Trying to understand the atom, physicists built quantum mechanics and found, to their embarrassment, that their theory intimately connects consciousness with the physical world. Quantum Enigma explores what that implies and why some founders of the theory became the foremost objectors to it. Schrödinger showed that it "absurdly" allowed a cat to be in a "superposition" simultaneously dead and alive. Einstein derided the theory's "spooky interactions." With Bell's Theorem, we now know Schrödinger's superpositions and Einstein's spooky interactions indeed exist.
Authors Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner explain all of this in nontechnical terms with help from some fanciful stories and bits about the theory's developers. They present the quantum mystery honestly, with an emphasis on what is and what is not speculation.
Physics' encounter with consciousness is its skeleton in the closet. Because the authors open the closet and examine the skeleton, theirs is a controversial book. Quantum Enigma's description of the experimental quantum facts, and the quantum theory explaining them, is undisputed. Interpreting what it all means, however, is controversial.
Every interpretation of quantum physics encounters consciousness. Rosenblum and Kuttner therefore turn to exploring consciousness itself -- and encounter quantum physics. Free will and anthropic principles become crucial issues, and the connection of consciousness with the cosmos suggested by some leading quantum cosmologists is mind-blowing.
Readers are brought to a boundary where the particular expertise of physicists is no longer a sure guide. They will find, instead, the facts and hints provided by quantum mechanics and the ability to speculate for themselves.
hardcover | ISBN: 9780195175592 | Publication Date: August 2006
"A remarkable and readable presentation of the basic mysteries of science, our universe, and human life. Critically important problems in our understanding are interestingly discussed with perception, depth, and careful objectivity."
--Charles Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, inventor of the laser, and Templeton Prize recipient
"Employing the simplest, correct demonstration of the Great Quantum
Dilemma that I have ever seen, Rosenblum and Kuttner starkly expose
skeleton in the physicist's closet."
--Nick Herbert, author of Quantum Reality
"This book is unique. I know of no other which so artfully tackles
two of the
greatest mysteries of modern science, quantum mechanics and
consciousness. It has long been suspected that
these mysteries are somehow related. The authors' treatment of this
thorny and controversial. issue
is honest, wide-ranging and immensely readable. The book contains some
of the clearest expositions I have ever seen of the strange and
paradoxical nature of the quantum world.
Quantum Enigma is a pleasure to read, and I am sure it is
destined to become a classic."
--George Greenstein, Professor of Astronomy, Amherst College, Coauthor of The Quantum Challenge: Modem Research on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
"The boundary of existence that modern physics finds itself butting
against is consciousness. The cautious, sober approach of
Quantum Enigma makes its astonishing conclusions all the more
credible. This is an immensely important and exciting book."
--Raymond Chester Russ, Editor, Journal of Mind and Behavior