Find out more Quantum theory contradicts common sense. Everyone who has even a modest interest in physics quickly gets this message. We think the world is made from solid, discrete objects — trees and dogs and tables — things that have objective properties that we can all agree on; but in quantum mechanics the whole concept of classical objects with well-defined identities seems not to exist.
Why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is different Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. Philip Ball is a science writer who was for many years an editor for physical sciences at the journal Nature.
The subtitle indicates what his book is about. It is aimed at readers of books on popular science who have, Ball believes, been given a misleading impression of quantum physics, starting with the notion that it is 'weird', which Ball thinks is a cop-out.
It's non-intuitive but not weird. The idea that it is comes from our understandably contorted attempts to find pictures for visualizing it or stories to tell about it. Quantum physics defies intuition, but we do it an injustice by calling that circumstance 'weird'.
Quantum mechanics has the reputation of being probably the most obscure and difficult branch of science, but Ball insists that it isn't 'hard' in the way that car maintenance or learning Chinese are hard his examples.
That isn't to say that a slight readjustment of our intuitions will make everything suddenly explicable. On all these topics he makes one question the ideas one has acquired by reading popular accounts of them previously.
His approach is based on work by a number of physicists in the last decade or two. A central problem we are always told about in books of this kind concerns how the classical world of everyday objects, including us, emerges from the mysterious quantum world.
This occurs thanks to something cryptically described as 'collapse of the wave function'.
Ball seeks to explain this, and much else, in terms of information. Quantum experiments take place within a wider classical environment, and what happens is that 'information gets out of the quantum system and into the macroscopic apparatus'.
There's then no longer any need for an ambiguous and contentious division of the world into the microscopic, where quantum rules, and macroscopic, which is necessarily classical.
We can abandon the search for some hypothetical 'Heisenberg cut' where the two worlds impinge. We can see not only that they are a continuum but also why classical physics is just a special case of quantum physics.
On this interpretation there is no need for the radical 'many worlds' solution famously proposed by Hugh Everett III, according to which the world is continually splitting into different branches, in which innumerable copies of each of us continue to pursue different destinies.
Ball treats this theory at some length and concludes that it is both unnecessary and unworkable. Although this is mostly a book about theories, it does contain a quite lengthy discussion of quantum computers. This is included both as an illustration of the practical importance of quantum physics and also because Ball thinks that the questions it raises help to illuminate quantum physics.
Perhaps the most striking thing to emerge from this is the fact that no one is entirely sure how these machines actually work. Ball's usual method of approaching these is a little like a Socratic dialogue.The Music Instinct How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It Philip Ball.
Author Philip Ball is an award-winning science writer with a gift for translating complicated ideas for the general reader ; In-depth exploration of musical structure through the prism of how our brains respond to music.
Jun 21, · Philip Ball. is a British science writer, whose work appears in Nature, New Scientist and Prospect, among leslutinsduphoenix.com latest book is Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics is Different ().
He lives in leslutinsduphoenix.com: Philip Ball. Philip Ball. Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked previously at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.
Mar 15, · Here's what Philip Ball thinks today.
Keep in mind that Philip Ball is a science writer—it's part of his job to keep up with the science he writes about. “Molecular mechanisms that generate biological diversity are rewriting ideas about how evolution proceeds”.
Apr 27, · Philip Ball is a freelance science writer and author. He he written numerous bestsellers including 'Critical Mass' and 'Elegant Solutions'. With 'The Music Instinct', Ball turns his attention to.
From quantum computers that’ll make conventional machines redundant to a map of the brain, freelance writer Philip Ball highlights some of the key issues for science in the coming year.